Scandalous Women

Mad Men meets the world of publishing in international bestselling author Gill Paul’s new novel about Jackie Collins and Jacqueline Susann, two dynamic, groundbreaking writers renowned for their scandalous and controversial novels, and the beleaguered young editorial assistant who introduces them.

1966, NYC: Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls hits the bookstores and she is desperate for a bestseller. It’s steamy, it’s a page-turner, but will it make the big money she needs? In London, Jackie Collins’s racy The World Is Full of Married Men launches her career. But neither author is prepared for the price they will pay for being women who dare to write about sex.

Jacqueline and Jackie are lambasted by the literary establishment, deluged with hate mail, and even condemned by feminists. In public, both women shoulder the outcry with dignity; in private, they are crumbling—particularly since they have secrets they don’t want splashed across the front pages.

1965, NYC: College graduate Nancy White is excited to take up her dream job at a Manhattan publishing house, but she could never be prepared for the rampant sexism she will encounter. While working on Valley of the Dolls, she becomes friends with Jacqueline Susann, and, after reaching out to Jackie Collins about a US deal, she is responsible for the two authors meeting.

Will the two Jackies clash as they race to top the charts? Will Nancy achieve her ambition of becoming an editor, despite all the men determined to hold her back? Three women struggle to succeed in a man’s world, while desperately trying to protect those they love the most.


Scandalous Women

Published in the US and Canada on August 13th, and in the UK, Australia and New Zealand on August 29th.

Scroll down for reviews:

PRAISE for Scandalous Women

“Scrumptious!” Eve Chase, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Midnight Hour and The Birdcage

“Scandalous Women is sensational! Honestly, I flew through the pages, adored it. It’s a pacy, brilliantly written tale of two bestselling authors in the wildly sexist publishing industry of the 1960s.” Tracy Rees, international bestselling author of Elopement

“This fabulous novel makes me feel like cheering as it celebrates two indomitable female trailblazers who face down misogyny, critical snobbery and personal heartache to emerge at the top of the bestseller lists. It’s not only an unputdownable page-turner but also a moving story of the importance of friendship and a fascinating insight into publishing in the 1960s.” Maggie Brookes, author of The Prisoner’s Wife

“This book unlocked so many emotions in me. It made me woozy with nostalgia, remembering how much I adored and devoured Jackie Collins books growing up. As a shy girl from the suburbs, Jackie’s writing transported me to glamorous places filled with palm trees and ballsy women. As a (nearly) 50-year-old woman, Gill’s writing reminded me why I still absolutely love reading fiction!

Gill has captured the essence of these two dynamic and groundbreaking female writers and encourages us to look again more deeply at their phenomenal achievements.

This book also reminded me of the horrific misogyny faced by women from all backgrounds! The fireman’s pole! For me, this is Gill at her absolute best, offering up a strong revisionist history with sparkling and propulsive writing. A fitting and empathetic love letter to the “two Jackie’s”. Emotional, compelling, memorable.” Kate Thompson, bestselling author of The Wartime Book Club

“Gill Paul has a sublime talent for mixing fact with fiction, and just like the two real subjects of this captivating novel, Jacqueline Susann and Jackie Collins, she is a wonderful storyteller. I absolutely galloped through this book and it has given me great admiration for these two groundbreaking authors who paved the way for countless women writers who followed in their wake and who have entertained and delighted millions of readers around the world. Kudos to the author for bringing us this story – it is definitely one of my favourites of the year!” Louise Fein, author of The London Bookshop Affair

“It’s easy to forget what a snooty, stuffy publishing world Jacqueline Susann and Jackie Collins initially faced when trying to sell their ‘racy’ books about modern women and their real desires. Gill Paul captures perfectly an imagined relationship between the two ground-breaking authors in this scandalously delicious novel – especially fun for anyone who loves books and publishing.” Liz Trenow, author of The Secret Sister

“In SCANDALOUS WOMEN, Gill Paul once again throws back the curtains on real-life women in recent history, letting her vivid imagination reveal what was and what might have been. Readers will be captivated by her elevation of two pioneering women on the publishing scene in male-dominated 1960s and forever grateful for the Jackies and Jacquelines who paved the way for a new brand of storytelling. Paul’s blend of the intimate moments of women’s lives and the world stage they fight to be on confirm her as a favorite in this genre.Camille Di Maio, bestselling author of Until We Meet

Reading Group Questions

1. The sex scenes in Jackie Collins and Jacqueline Susann novels are tame compared with those in 50 Shades of Grey and the many spin-offs it spawned. How do you feel about sex scenes in novels? Do you find them cringey? Offensive? Who writes the best ones you’ve come across?

2. Nancy is clearly very smart academically, so why is she so naive when it comes to Stephen Bailey?

3. Have you read any Jackie Collins or Jacqueline Susann novels? Can you understand why they caused such outrage in the Sixties? Do you think feminists were right to condemn them?

4. Jacqueline Susann invented the book tour in order to bypass hostile reviewers and reach out directly to readers. Do you ever attend author events? If so, what do you like about them? Do you pay more attention to the author in question afterwards?

5. The overt sexism in the workplace that Nancy encountered is now against the law, but there are still vestiges of sexism in many jobs. Sometimes it’s so subtle, it hardly seems worth calling out; at other times women are afraid of losing their income so they accept it. Do you feel that you have been discriminated against because of your sex? And did you call it out?

6. Did you like Jacqueline Susann in the novel? On the negative side she’s pushy and bossy and tries to control those around her, but she can be a great friend to have. Do you think you would have liked her had you ever met her in real life?

7. During the research for the novel, I talked to several people who knew Jackie Collins personally and not one had a bad word to say about her. Is it possible to be stratospherically successful and still be a nice person?

8. In the 1960s, men were the main breadwinners and only around 40% of married women had paid jobs. If working, women were often sacked if they got pregnant, and they were routinely paid less than men. What qualities do you think made Irving and Oscar able to cope with being married to women who earned substantially more than them?

9. George was quite patronising to Nancy in the beginning, but he grew to care deeply for her. Do you think theirs would turn out to be a good marriage after the end of the book?

10. Being a friend to someone who is seriously ill can be tricky. You worry about being insensitive, but perhaps what the sick person needs most is honesty. Have you ever been confidante to someone who is dying? How did you manage, and how did it affect you?