Tuesday, March 21, 2017

*Review* #BeatTheBacklist - Down the Rabbit Hole by Holly Madison

Genre: Memoir
Published: June 23, 2015
Pages: 352


The shocking, never-before-told story of the bizarre world inside the legendary Playboy Mansion—and, finally, the secret truth about the man who holds the key—from one of the few people who truly knows: Hef’s former #1 girlfriend and star of The Girls Next Door
A spontaneous decision at age twenty-one transformed small-town Oregon girl Holly Sue Cullen into Holly Madison, Hugh Hefner’s #1 girlfriend. But like Alice’s journey into Wonderland, after Holly plunged down the rabbit hole, what seemed like a fairytale life inside the Playboy Mansion—including A-list celebrity parties and her own #1-rated television show for four years—quickly devolved into an oppressive routine of strict rules, manipulation, and battles with ambitious, backstabbing bunnies. Life inside the notorious Mansion wasn’t a dream at all—and quickly became her nightmare. After losing her identity, her sense of self-worth, and her hope for the future, Holly found herself sitting alone in a bathtub contemplating suicide.
But instead of ending her life, Holly chose to take charge of it.
In this shockingly candid and surprisingly moving memoir, this thoughtful and introspective woman opens up about life inside the Mansion, the drugs, the sex, the abuse, the infamous parties, and her real behind-the-scenes life with Bridget, Kendra, and, of course, Mr. Playboy himself.
With great courage, Holly shares the details of her subsequent troubled relationship, landing her own successful television series, and the hard work of healing, including her turn on Dancing with the Stars. A cautionary tale and a celebration of personal empowerment, Down the Rabbit Hole reminds us of the importance of fighting for our dreams—and finding the life we deserve.


I listened to the audiobook version of this book, because as I've mentioned before, if I'm going to read a book about a celebrity, I might as well have them read it to me. It makes me feel important. Fun fact, you can likely listen to this book at 1.5 speed with no problems whatsoever. 

I was a fan of The Girls Next Door when it aired on E! (I started watching when my son was an infant and I needed mindless entertainment that I didn't feel invested in because I was not getting much sleep at the time and could not mentally handle that kind of mental commitment. And The Girls Next Door fit the bill quite well.) Now, because of that, I had some rather deeply ingrained notions about what type of person Holly was, and it seems that most of those notions were dead wrong. I should have known better, but like many of the viewers, I got sucked up into the fantasy that was portrayed on television. I was probably most interested in reading this book, however, because of the way Kendra Wilkinson bashed it. If a woman who was clearly in Hef's good graces (she did get married at the mansion after all) was trying to discredit it, then it should at least be entertaining if nothing else. And it was entertaining. 

While I was listening to this book, I couldn't help but feel bad for Holly, and all the other girls that lived in the mansion as Hef's girlfriends. While I had been aware of the curfew and no boys rule, I didn't realize just how repressive mansion life was on a day to day basis for the girls. And I realize that the girls made the choice to be there on their own, but the way both Holly and Kendra tell it, at the time, they didn't feel like they had a lot of other choices. And I can certainly understand the appeal of having a guaranteed roof over your head and an allowance for clothes. I can't say that I would be willing to do what they did to get those things, but I can't say for sure that I wouldn't either. I do at least understand why they made the choices they did. And once they were in, I can understand how getting out may have seemed downright impossible for a while. But these are things that we never saw when the cameras were rolling. 

I think the part of this book that I really found the most entertaining was when she was talking about her life after Playboy though, probably because it didn't have as much gloominess looming over it from mansion life. Also, that's when the Twitter feud with Kendra took place, and I'm a sucker for drama like that. But mostly, she was clearly getting her life on track and taking charge of her own destiny, so that part of the story was much more uplifting. 

Overall I give Down the Rabbit Hole 5 out of 5 stars and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoyed watching The Girls Next Door. You just might learn a thing or two. - Katie 

Buy the Book

About the Author

Holly Madison spent five seasons on the #1 rated E! hit reality show The Girls Next Door as the main girlfriend of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. In 2009 she landed the leading role in Tony Award-winning director-choreographer Jerry Mitchell's Las Vegas burlesque act, Peepshow. During this time, Madison also starred in two seasons of E!'s series Holly's World, chronicling her new life in Sin City. Madison has made countless appearances on radio and television shows, magazines, and feature films such as Dancing with the Stars, CSI, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, General Hospital, Scary Movie 4, and The House Bunny. Madison divides her time between Las Vegas and Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.

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