The Love Machine (novel)
|Publisher||Simon and Schuster|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Pages||512 pp (first edition, hardback)|
|ISBN||ISBN 0-553-10530-2 (first edition, hardback)|
|Preceded by||Valley of the Dolls|
|Followed by||Once Is Not Enough|
The Love Machine is a 1969 novel written by Jacqueline Susann. Her first book following her successful Valley of the Dolls, it was published by Simon and Schuster in June 1969. While it ultimately was not as successful as Dolls, it was an enormous best-seller and, like its predecessor, it is something of a "roman à clef". In 1971 it was adapted into a film of the same title.
The Love Machine tells the story of Robin Stone, a charismatic young man who rises from print and television journalist to become first the head of news and eventually the president of a would-be fourth major television network, before his late-developing executive ruthlessness leads to his downfall. According to Susann biographer Barbara Seaman, the character is based in part on one-time CBS Television Network president Jim Aubrey---whose own ruthlessness and scandalous private life led to his own downfall---and in part on Susann's father, who shared Robin Stone's initials. Seaman cited Aubrey as having known Susann would base her protagonist on him, urging her, "Make me a real bastard." There are two major things that distinguish The Love Machine from Jacqueline Susann's other novels: the main character is a man, and the book has a happy ending.
After making his reputation as a serious journalist, Robin Stone rapidly climbs the corporate ladder following his appointment as the IBC Network news president. He also breaks the hearts of many women along the way while forging friendships of convenience with a number of men. Regardless of the fact that he always makes it clear that he's not interested in a long-term relationship, women still tend to fall for him. His success irks IBC network television head Dan Miller, whose commercialism equals Stone's push for prestige. Stone is also incapable of forming a long-term relationship due to being haunted by his past, barely able to come to terms with his birth to an unwed prostitute, but solicitous of his adoptive mother until her death. The book is divided into three main sections devoted to the women who are affected by Robin the most: Amanda, a beautiful and emotional model; Maggie, a brilliant fellow journalist; and Judith, a middle-aged socialite and the wife of network chieftain Gregory Austin, who makes Stone his protege.
Stone becomes IBC chief after Austin is stricken with cancer and appoints him, at Judith's urging, to run the company in his absence. As company chief Stone becomes ruthless and unaccountable, and his private life continues as a relentless womaniser until a brutal encounter with a prostitute drives him to intense psychotherapy, where he comes to terms with his past and breaks his womanising style. But it isn't enough to stop him from destroying his career after a strange party at which Judith is injured and Stone concocts a cover story to protect her reputation and those of two friends. In its aftermath, Judith reconciles with her husband; former network president Dan Miller is restored to his old job; a fading actor who befriended and then betrayed Stone becomes a successful television producer; Stone's first novel is published; and, Maggie decides to return to him after receiving a note saying the one thing Stone was never able to say to anyone in his life before.