WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? by Henry Farrell

WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?

KIRKUS REVIEW

Farrell’s groundbreaking tale of two elderly sisters caught up in a murderous web has been re-released. This volume includes three additional, never-before-published short stories from the author (1920-2006).

Baby Jane Hudson was a child star in the early 1900s. A Shirley Temple type of wunderkind, Baby Jane sang, danced and enthralled audiences all over the world. She was also a tiny terror, holding her family hostage with her bad temper and earning power, tormenting her younger sister, Blanche, and dominating her doting parents. Since then, Blanche has had a sparkling career as a Hollywood star, appearing in dozens of movies and dazzling audiences everywhere. But a terrible accident has forced a change in her lifestyle: She is now a cripple that Jane cares for in the fortresslike atmosphere of the former movie star’s once-fashionable home. And Jane is deluded. Although close to 60, she cakes her face with makeup and dresses like a little girl, dreaming of the day when she can once again return to show business. In order to prepare for that day, Jane hires an accompanist and starts practicing for the resumption of her childhood career; but she’s also immersed in a deadly game with her dependent sister, making certain that Blanche becomes more and more isolated from the outside world. In the process of ensuring that isolation, Jane resorts to cruel tactics that reinforce her mental instability. Farrell’s writing comes across as a bit melodramatic by today’s standards, but this ageless and much-emulated tale (turned into a classic film starring Bette Davis and Joan Crawford) still resonates. The book includes three additional, never-before-published Farrell stories. "Whatever Happened to Cousin Charlotte," the story that birthed the film Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte, is another relatives-gone-bad story in the same vein as Jane; "The Debut of Larry Richards," about a successful actor whose path crosses with an actor he has spurned, with disastrous results, tips its hat to the old Twilight Zone television series; and "First, The Egg" provides a fanciful, light look at a romance between a man who finds what he believes to be a dinosaur egg and the woman who loves him, even if she does think he's a bit batty.

Farrell’s psychological thriller-classic holds up. The bonus stories add value to this edition.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-4555-4675-6
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2013




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