With two autobiographies —anyone can have just one— under her belt, Sharon Osbourne has turned to fiction. The tough-talking reality TV star, and loving wife of heavy metal legend Ozzy Osbourne, has penned a novel, Revenge. Is it any good? It’s hilarious, although I’m not sure it’s meant to be… But given Osbourne’s shrewd nature I imagine she has her eye on the commercial success of a novel penned by one of the loudest personalities in showbiz as opposed to critical acclaim.
Just so nobody’s under any illusions as to the nature of the novel, publisher Sphere has produced a black sparkly cover with a hot pink font that reads “Two sisters. One dream. Winner takes all.” The sisters are Chelsea and Amber Stone, the dream, to be an international superstar. The winner? Quite possibly their mother who, having missed her chance in the spotlight, becomes the stereotypical showbiz mom living vicariously through her daughters.
Small town girl Margaret “Maggie” May moves to London, intent on becoming a star of the screen. Unfortunately, the screen has enough stars, and instead she ends up a barmaid, knocked up by devilish rogue Derek who promptly does a runner with her flatmate and leaves a bewildered Maggie crying on his gay brother George’s gay shoulder. Closet case George Stone needs a beard to further his career and Maggie fits the bill, complete with a ready-made baby girl, Chelsea. A second daughter, Amber, follows a few years later, when a sexually-frustrated (and apparently clueless) Maggie demands some action from her husband.
On the outside, the Stones seem solid, but a suicide, a drug addiction and a few years of simmering sibling rivalry soon spice things up. Having cracked the States with her mother and manager at her side, Amber has a successful, if somewhat boring, career as a Hollywood actress. The action really begins when, tired of being the overweight, drug-addicted, washed-up child star, Chelsea decides that she wants what Amber has and boards a plane to LA. And she starts by stealing her sister’s man, Hollywood producer Leo Russell, who every chick-lit reader worth her salt knows is Bad News from day one.
Revenge tends to take a back seat to sex in this shameless romp-com. The raucous, full-on sex scenes are the ones that read the most convincingly. The rest of the time, the characters lean towards becoming caricatures spouting overly dramatic monologues about achieving huge international fame/losing a substantial amount of weight/ruing the day their sister stole their man, or indeed all of the above together.
Right from the start, you’ll find yourself speculating wildly about exactly which of the story’s seedier parts were inspired by real life. The Stones relocate to America, namely LA, home to the Osbournes, to further their careers. Chelsea follows in her father’s footsteps and becomes a ruthless workaholic. Wasn’t Sharon’s own father, music mogul Don Arden, a notoriously tough businessman? And haven’t the Osbournes endured harsh criticism from the media over their weight and general appearance (a reoccurring issue in Revenge)?
So naturally you can’t help but wonder about the closet gay husband. Or the Russian pole-dancer who overdoses in the nightclub. Or the blatant use of sex to advance a career. Yes, we know they’re probably not based on the Osbournes’ personal experience, but a big part of Revenge’s appeal is that you feel you’re hearing about the life of an international star straight from the horse’s mouth. And let’s face it, who doesn’t love an inside story? Camp, over-the-top and with a plot that relies heavily on sex, would we expect anything less from Mrs Osbourne?