By People Staff
November 21, 1988 12:00 PM

by Joan Collins

Following her muse, the one called Cashing In, Joan Collins has written a novel. The plot turns on five actresses who are vying for the lead in a prime-time soap opera. The lame story is a 276-page version of the song Three Coins in the Fountain, with emphasis on the line, “Which one will the fountain bless?” The fountain, in this case, is the powerful, shrewd producer Abby Arafat. If you ignore the disclaimer that this is only a work of fiction, it would be powerfully tempting to think Arafat has something to do with Collins’ Dynasty producer, Aaron Spelling, even though the author has cleverly hidden him in Marvin Davis’ body and George Burns’s birth certificate, meaning that Arafat is both overweight and old. Among the contestants hoping the fountain will spritz some good fortune their way are the creatively named Chloe Carriere, Emerald Barrymore and Rosalinde Lamaze. (What? No Druid Schwartz?) Be advised that Chloe, the plucky English actress, has the best moral values, the prettiest face and given half a chance—or maybe just a whole man-wants nothing more than to be a faithful wife. This being Ms. Collins’ first novel, she is apparently still working out the kinks, such as what it is exactly that constitutes a sentence. “Sat back and drank him in” is a sentence, according to our scrivener. Her prose is chockablock with “fusing bodies” and curls that “tumble artlessly.” Alas, the way the curls tumble is also the way the words are strung together. The dialogue is hopeless, the happenings hokey, and everything is predictable. The use of profanity is uninspired and the sex scenes perfunctory. Real names are woven in ad nauseam in asides like “Barbra’s no beauty” and Brooke Shields‘s “mother’s a pain in the ass.” Prime Time doesn’t even make it as camp. There’s one admirable thing about the book: The stock is of good quality, and at the end there are four blank pages. If you carefully tear them out and cut them in half, you will have eight nice note papers for phone messages or grocery lists. (Linden Press, $ 19.95)