A ROMAN TALE by Carroll Baker

A ROMAN TALE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A lead-footed roman à clef from Baby Doll actress Baker (author of a well-publicized 1984 autobiography of the same name), in which an American sex goddess going under for the third time lands with a splash in the wonderful world of Italian movies. Pity Madeline ""Venus"" Mandell, the simpering (but really very bright) blonde bombshell who 12 years ago was one of Hollywood's top box-office draws but now--at the age of ""approaching 35""--finds herself flat broke and in desperate need of a career change. (Plus which, entre nous, she is simply unable to reach orgasm. ""Wouldn't the press. . .be in for a shock if they knew. . .that the alleged sex symbol was longing to make some of those 'hot' movie scenes come true?"") The remedy, Madeline decides, is la dolce vita and the burgeoning Italian film scene of the 60's. Once in Rome, she competes with a bevy of European starlets (all of whom are modeled on either Brit Eklund, Anita Ekberg, Gina Lollabrigida, or all of the above) for one of the four female leads in the soon-to-be-made Boccaccio Volgare, a movie based on a quartet of Boccaccio tales and starring none other than Umberto Cassini himself, ""Italy's only truly international star,"" he of the doleful eyes and hangdog comic turns. It's love at first sight for Umberto and Madeline, but the author keeps them apart through a series of clumsy, tiresome plot entanglements, while the conniving English actress Serena Blaire nearly steals the movie (and Umberto) from Madeline; the day is saved when Serena unexpectedly becomes pregnant (a breach of contract), and Madeline gets the role, Umberto, and plenty of orgasms. In sum: trash without flash, unredeemed even by the various and assorted explicit sex scenes (a little something for everybody) placed firmly and quite cynically every 30 pages or so.

Pub Date: May 15th, 1986
Publisher: Donald Fine