I bought a copy of Down the Rabbit Hole by Holly Madison and decided to review it when I realised just how interested everyone else seemed to be! I had naively thought that watching Girls of the Playboy Mansion (originally titled Girls Next Door in the US) was my own dirty little secret – but it turns out a lot of my friends used to watch it too, and lots of them were intrigued to see what secrets Holly spilled in her book!

I initially became interested in the book when I read an article where someone had asked Holly if she was worried about ex co-star Kendra Wilkinson reading what she’d said about her in the book. Holly’s response was something along the lines of “in all the time I knew her, I never once saw her read a book so I think I’m safe.”

What I love about this book is that Holly clearly knows why people will be buying it. She doesn’t go into some self indulgent story of her childhood; she gets straight to the point. A large chunk of the book is taken up with her time living with Hugh Hefner, first as one of seven girlfriends, and then as his main girlfriend.

The book paints Hugh Hefner (or “Hef” as he’s known, seemingly by everyone) as a manipulative, controlling man who delights in setting his girlfriends against each other in a “divide and conquer” sort of way. Meanwhile, the girlfriends are all going out, seeing other boyfriends on the side, sneering at Hef behind his back, and being mean to Holly.

The biggest shock in this book for me was the realisation that neither Holly, Kendra nor Bridget Marquardt were actually paid for the first season of Girls Next Door. When they brought this fact up with the producer from the TV Channel, E!, they were basically told, this is a show about Hef’s girlfriends, not you as people. You’re replaceable. I find it terrifying that in 2005, these women were being basically kept as possessions, treated as nothing more than replaceable arm candy – and a massive TV company was not just allowing it to happen, but helping it to happen! None of these three women earned an income from this massive TV show until season 2 when it became apparent it was a hit. Fast forward a few seasons; Holly, Bridget and Kendra had all left the house, and been replaced by Crystal (now Hef’s wife) and the Shannon twins. Season six, without its original stars, was a massive flop. Seems like they weren’t replaceable after all!

The book goes into Holly’s life after leaving the mansion too, which is interesting – but I hadn’t actually heard of the man she ended up in a relationship with afterwards. He was a magician in Vegas, and she seems to have gone from one abusive, controlling relationship to the other. Even though I’d not heard of the man, this part of the book was still interesting and I’m sure it will ring bells for a lot of people who’ve found themselves in a similar situation.

I did find there were points in this book where it felt a bit like Holly was perhaps holding back part of the truth about what went on. She mentions sex with Hef only once, before she’s even moved into the mansion. There were several points where I found myself thinking, “oh, come on; you must have said something/done something/reacted/whatever”  – she seems just a little bit too whiter than white.

There are also a couple of moments that made me cringe, where she tells stories possibly designed to make Kendra look bad – but they actually make Holly look a bit unkind. For example, there’s a bit where they go to a restaurant and Kendra mis-pronounces the word “sake” – the Japanese rice wine. The incident is ostensibly showing how rude Kendra is to the waitress, but it feels a bit unkind to highlight it at all.

Either way, whether she is omitting certain details or not, it’s an incredibly interesting story, made all the more so by the fact Hefner was apparently very unimpressed by her publishing the book.

I found this book incredibly easy to read and hard to put down. Whether Holly Madison has “rewritten history” as Hefner has said, or omitted a few details to make herself look less like… the person we all assume one would be if they went from being all but homeless to living in the Playboy Mansion for several years, it’s still a great read. I’m almost tempted to read Kendra’s book now… probably.

At the time of writing, Down the Rabbit Hole is £11.89 on Amazon UK.

Note: I was not provided with this book for the purposes of review. I reviewed it because I enjoyed it and thought my readers may be interested to know what I thought. All words and opinions are my own!


Thanks for reading.

You can read my other book reviews here.



Categories: Books

Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


Jenny Kearney · 17/08/2015 at 07:59

I love the sound of this book and show, can’t believe I’ve never watched it before! #readwithme

    Vicky Charles · 17/08/2015 at 17:09

    It’s one of those “guilty pleasure” tv shows that’s easy to get sucked into Jenny. Especially the first few seasons where it was the 3 original girls and Hef. Very fluffy and light hearted. I used to watch the show all the time, but the book has made me see it in a different light!

Becky, Cuddle Fairy · 17/08/2015 at 11:00

I’ll admit that I have watched the Girls Next Door show too. It is such an odd situation that you get sucked in, wondering what it’s all about. The book sounds very interesting. I’m shocked that the girls were paid to be on the show! I bet there is much more to the story than what was in the book too! Lovely review & you have me tempted to go buy the book now! #ReadWithMe x

    Vicky Charles · 17/08/2015 at 17:06

    Thanks Becky. I think it’s the perfect Summer read because it’s just easy to get into. I really enjoyed it. It’s also enlightening from the point of view of what goes on behind the scenes on a “reality” show as she tells you about how much of it was staged, and what really happened.
    I remember seeing the scene where Kendra told Hef she’d met another man and was leaving and it just seemed so staged!

chantelle hazelden · 17/08/2015 at 14:22

I haven’t read a celebrity style book in quite a while but I’ve heard plenty about this one in the news, she almost comes across a bit like Katie Price, wanting the shock factor. thanks for sharing with #readwithme

    Vicky Charles · 17/08/2015 at 17:05

    I think they do perhaps have a little in common. Having read one of Price’s autobiographies, the way she comes across as a little *too* blameless and innocent is soemthing they both have in common! I think this book is probably more interesting though purely because it’s behind the scenes on a popular TV show, not just a list of random boyband members the author has slept with!

Nat Jones · 18/08/2015 at 13:20

This sounds really interesting! I’ve never watched the show (am so off to hunt for it now!) but It sounds interesting to see what goes on in that famous house!

    Vicky Charles · 18/08/2015 at 18:07

    I found it really interesting to see the contrast between what was portrayed on the show and what really went on.

Adventures of a Novice Mum · 19/08/2015 at 07:43

Love the disclaimer at the bottom :-)

I saw some of the TV comments on this. Shame they didn’t pay them for the first run; so unfair to make so much money off their backs. Replaceable or not, there wouldn’t have been the show without them. #Twitter

    Vicky Charles · 19/08/2015 at 12:28

    It’s shocking isn’t it. The whole thing seemed to be based on the idea that people would be tuning in to see about Hugh Hefner’s life and whoever he might be dating, rather than them as people.

katy allred · 19/08/2015 at 19:50

Oh boy, I admit it, I watched that show for the seasons those girls were on! It was nearly impossible to turn it off. I’d forgotten all about it until seeing this post but now I’m curious to read this book!

    Vicky Charles · 20/08/2015 at 07:35

    Oh Katy, if you watched the TV show the book will be incredibly enlightening. Everything from the state of the mansion to the way the girls were treated and how the show was filmed and scripted. It’s an interesting insight into all “reality” shows to be honest!

aidrouge · 20/08/2015 at 17:56

Really gives an insight into the world of the mansion and how ridiculous people are to idolize an old pervert. I like that Holly overcame all that crap and moved on.

Sharon Powell · 21/08/2015 at 10:22

I never watched the series but I still think I would enjoy reading this book. I do enjoy biographies because I’m nosey and I love a bit of juicy gossip :) x #ReadWithMe

    Vicky Charles · 21/08/2015 at 19:49

    lol Sharon this is definitely good for a nose and some gossip!

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