Say what you will about long, sweeping family epics, but every so often I want to escapte something I could see on 80s primetime or (Contemporary) Lifetime Movie Channel. Enter a conversation with a family member which led to the ultimate reading productivity suck—Jackie Collins’ Lucky Santangelo series. And, as every saga has a beginning, I started with the first book in the series, Chances.
While it starts in an elevator in New York during the infamous New York blackout in the 70s, it is really the story of Gino Santangelo—the man whom would eventually sire Lucky Santangelo. Chronicling Gino’s move from Italy to the US– his modest beginnings and his hands-on approach to creating his empire. It lays out the choices and decisions he made (or the CHANCES he had) that propelled his meteoric rise to the top of his game. And the creation of Lucky Santangelo and her earlier life (and his mistakes with her) that help shape her into the force of nature she is now.
I was anticipating this to be a lot more about Lucky. That being said, there are parallels between the meager American roots of the Kennedy family (bootlegging, politics) and the Santangelo family. As a result, this story felt very familiar and I wasn’t comforted and both disturbed by never having any experience with it, but it feeling so close to me.
It is, for all intents and purposes, a sweeping family epic. But, also an origin story for a strong female figure in literature. It is definitely written for women, as all of the sympathetic or ‘good’ men service their women first, and all of the bad men treat their partners terribly.
Chances was published in 1981, but some of the universal truths in it will resonate with readers today. It is definitely a summer guilty pleasure. Check it out in your favorite format today