Osbourne, Sharon. Revenge

Sphere, $32.99

Poor Maggie arrived in London as a pretty teenager with stars in her eyes. Then she fell pregnant to a dodgy con-artist who reacted to this joyous news by nicking off with Maggie’s upper-crust flatmate. So she reinvented herself as staid Margaret, and married his stable (but in-the-closet gay) brother who claimed this daughter, Chelsea, as his own. A cringeworthy attempt to eventually consummate their marriage conceived another child. This younger daughter, Amber, became conduit for all of her mother’s derelict dreams, while Chelsea was scorned as the reminder of past mistakes.

Just your regular-issue stage mum, laying some choice foundations to stuff up everyone’s lives.

With soap-operatic frequency of makeovers and life-changing moments, Revenge tells the dissenting fortunes of this family as the sisters rise and fall along differing paths to celebrity. Sharon Osbourne’s own life experiences colour the melodrama. Valid descriptions (including Soho in the 70s, 90’s burlesque clubs, and more recent celebrity machinations) keep Revenge from being a paper nest of stereotypes.

But our favourite clichés need not fear unemployment: young breasts are still pert, lips are ruby red, limbs coltish. Etcetera.

With one eye on the film rights, the other on a sequel, Osbourne channels Jackie Collins and mixes in Jacqueline Sussan — or rather, her uncredited ghostwriter does.

Reading Revenge is a bit like sitting down in front of Video Hits with a big bag of Twisties. The first few are not that appealing, really, and the music kinda sucks, but then all of sudden you’ve reached the end of the packet and you’re dancing around the lounge room covered in crumbs. How did that happen, then?