Author Henry Farrell
Publisher Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date October 1, 2013
The neighbors all whisper about the two sisters who live on the hill: It's Blanche Hudson who lives in that house, you know. The Blanche Hudson, who starred in big Hollywood films all those years ago. Such a shame her career ended so early, all because of that accident. They say it was her sister, Jane, who did it--that she crashed the car because she was drunk. They say that's why she looks after Blanche now, because of the guilt. That's what they say, at least.
Nobody remembers that Jane was once a star herself. A fixture of early vaudeville, Baby Jane Hudson performed her song and dance routines for adoring crowds until a move to Hollywood thrust her sister into the spotlight. Even now, years later, Jane dreams of reviving her act. But as the lines begin to blur between fantasy and reality, past resentments become dangerous--and the sisters' long-kept secrets threaten to destroy them.
“The neighbors all whisper about the two sisters who live on the hill: It’s Blanche Hudson who lives in that house, you know. The Blanche Hudson.”
Anyone who knows me, knows that my favorite actress is Bette Davis, who starred in All About Eve, Dark Victory and What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? This was the reason why I picked up Henry Farrell’s novel. In the case of Baby Jane, I saw the movie before I read the book and thus began with a wonder of how much had been adapted. In What Ever Happened To Baby Jane they were right on. It was an early Misery minus James Caan/Paul Sheldon getting his foot cut off, but enough about the movie.
I read the introduction before beginning What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? something I rarely do. I am so glad I did, as it gave a fascinating insight into both the author, his reasoning and thought the process behind the book and making of the film.
The novel itself was campy but eerily so and held a suspenseful element. This was shown subtly with Baby Jane revising her old act in replicas of her old costumes and the “Chef Specials” she would give to her sister Blanche. Henry Farrell did a superb job setting the run-down stuck in time Hudson Home with just as vivid of characters. Jane, while I hate to do the comparison, but she was Shirley Temple but only if Shirley Temple was a washed up drunk. Her sister the invalid, once great movie star Blanche, while playing the sick card both for real and sometimes for the annoyance of her sister I felt she knew something beyond the circumstances from her accident.
What Ever Happened To Baby Jane is masterly crafted and should be a read for anyone who enjoys old Hollywood or just a good creepy read.