I awoke this morning to the news that Jackie Collins has died at the age of 77, after a six-and-a-half year battle with breast cancer. At the risk of doing the same as everyone else, I felt that this amazing woman deserved a little attention here on Authordom – not to mourn her death so much as to celebrate the amazing life she lived.
I’ve got to be honest, Collins’ books are not really for me. I’ve only read one (Lovers and Players) at the behest of my rational father, who thought it fair that I should read some of her books before I discount them and who, quite correctly, said that no-one can be considered well-read if they have only read classics or what is wrongly considered ‘higher’ literature. He’s right of course – you can only be well-read if you’ve read a bit of everything and in the spirit of fairness, I decided to try a bit of Collins.
I enjoyed the book I read, in so much as it was a light, fast read. It was pure indulgent escapism that allowed me to leave my brain at the door before I stepped into this world of the cultural elite that Collins so loved to write about. And actually, there’s nothing wrong with that. Great philosophical works of literature that burrow into your brain and spark thoughts are great, but we all need a little escapism now and then and even if we didn’t need it, we most certainly want it. So whilst Collins’ books are not for me, I can most definitely appreciate their appeal.
I’m obviously not the norm either. During her writing career, which spanned nearly four-and-half decades, she wrote 32 novels – and every single one of them ended up on the New York Times bestseller list. Every single one of them. If that’s not success, then I don’t know what is. Her books, full of raunchy rendezvous and outrageous antics have sold more than 500 million copies in forty countries.
It’s not just that though. Even if I’m not a massive fan of her writing, I can’t help but admire the woman she was. She was fascinating and exceptional, if a little kooky. She was outlandish and brash and she didn’t care what anyone thought of her and if you didn’t like it, then that was your problem not hers. She epitomized what I think of when I think of decadence, but in the best possible way – she acted out, in real life, that little play in all our heads – that tiny little part of us that wants to live in luxurious self-indulgence and bugger to everyone else (and then, of course, revealed it all to us normal folk who’ll likely never experience it). She was feisty, full of fire and fight and passion that not only drove her own ambitions but pulled everyone along with her. She motivated people, strengthened people, and stood up for what she believed in.
In a statement issued by her family, she is described as “a true inspiration, a trailblazer, and a creative force,” and there is absolutely no denying that that’s true. So here’s to Jackie Collins: the legend that was.