Kings Of America by R.J. Ellory
Rebel Voice has previously read a novel by Roger Jon Ellory and thought it a fine piece of writing. A Quiet Belief In Angels is streets ahead of Kings Of America which is, quite frankly, a terrible book.
In his forward, Ellory commented upon the research that he undertook for this book. As the story is mainly set in 1930s Hollywood, the author focused his research in that arena and it shows. The plot is educational in that there is a lot of information concerning that so-called Golden Age of Hollywood. We learn about the actors and actresses who frequented the studios in those heady days. We are told of where they ate and drank, and who knew who and why. Sadly, it is all unnecessary. R.J. Ellory appears to have been so determined to get factoids into his plot that he interrupted the narrative with constant trivia.
Additionally, his research on Ireland during the same period and throughout World War 2 was apparently non-existent. To compound these egregious errors, the plot is formulaic and gives the impression of being little more than facets from various movies having been taken and stitched together. Frankenstein’s monster was prettier than this.
Danny McCabe is an Irish boxer who gets in trouble at home and is forced to flee abroad. It’s in New York that he meets Nicky Mariani and his beautiful sister, Lucia, from Corsica. The three end up throwing their lot in together as they struggle to realize their dreams in the proverbial Land of Opportunity. The story moves from New York to LA and the reader is obliged to suffer one cliche after another as stereotypes are beaten to death by an author completely lost.
Far and Away (Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman), Gone With The Wind (Clarke Gable and Vivienne Leigh), LA Confidential (Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger) all get pilfered in this debacle. The plot is like something that was written by a Stepford wife. It is predictable. It is wooden. It is protracted. It is dull.
Rebel Voice was unable to read this book in full, and so was forced to browse merely to see if anything unusual popped up. It had nothing to redeem it. The only thing missing, apart from a good plot and believable characters, was Danny McCabe glaring at Lucia Mariani and stating, Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.
Stories about emigrants to the US have been done to death. Any telling of such a story today requires an entirely new approach. Kings of America does not have one. It does have a good title but that’s about it. If you have bought this book then immediately seek your money back. If that’s impossible, then go into the garden and throw this hardback through your horrible neighbour’s bedroom window and scream, That’s what I think of you!
Sult scale rating: 3 out of 10. Refuse to read this with much the same enthusiasm that you would refuse to drink milk from the same glass in which your shrivelled Granddad keeps his teeth.