We all know you can't judge a book by its publisher. Still, when I came across this offering from Amour Press, I figured I was in for something -- shall we say? -- trashy. So I was happily surprised by this serious study of destructive love. "Haynes Lubou," incidentally, was a pseudonym chosen by the writer later known, after her marriage to Lorenz Hart's brother, as Dorothy Hart. She was 28 when this was published.
Reckless Hollywood by Haynes Lubou. Amour Press (1932), 312 pp.
A Broadway show girl, Petty Love, comes west to become a movie star. Eventually, she tires of the endless dieting, the intermittence of the work, and the constant pressure to trade sexual favors for career opportunities. She lands a steady job at a fan magazine. Though still surrounded by a highly charged sexual atmosphere, Petty remains chaste until she becomes involved with a self-centered movie stunt-pilot, Danton Egeau. He is handsome and charming and is fond of her in his own fashion. But he beats her, shows no interest in her life, and drinks relentlessly. She continues to love him. Is she on a path to destruction or will she finally break her ties to Danton?
Although the story has lots of gossipy stuff about the movie business, its main focus is on the abusive relationship between Petty and Dan. The book, written from Petty’s viewpoint, does an especially good job of showing why she can’t break free. Petty's conclusion, and probably the author’s, is that intense sexual attraction can often generate feelings of love and attachment which are both delusional and damaging. The book is extraordinary not only for its depiction of a destructive romance and but also for its refusal to condemn an unmarried woman for her active sex life. With her earnest tone and clean writing style, the author has taken the makings of a lurid melodrama and turned them into a serious novel, one deserving of a place in the upper ranks of Hollywood fiction.