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Down the Rabbit Hole

Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny
Narrated by: Holly Madison
Length: 10 hrs and 51 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (345 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 number-one girlfriend and star of The Girls Next Door.

A spontaneous decision at age 21 transformed small-town Oregon girl Holly Sue Cullen into Holly Madison, Hugh Hefner's number-one girlfriend. But like Alice's journey into Wonderland, after Holly plunged down the rabbit hole, what seemed like a fairy tale life inside the Playboy Mansion - including A-list celebrity parties and her own number-one-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.

©2015 Holly Madison (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Roz
  • Perth
  • 28-12-2015

Lacked Flow

I enjoyed this story and was interested in Holly's back story having watched The Girls Next Door. I listened to the whole book start to finish on a long haul flight and found that it lacked flow and narrative, the chapters would start on one subject but need to be backed up by other past events. Entertaining though and didn't require me to listen too carefully.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Both great and rubbish

I found this book really good in the beginning. You can definitely relate to her struggles while young, and understand more about what drew her to the house and made her stay too long.
However it is peppered with random catty comments and weird references to how well she is doing now. I think if this book was restructured with some pointless stories removed (for example when she bought Kendra a matching skirt?), it would sound less one -sided.
Generally Holly is likeable and the first half of this book is great, the second half however falls into boring feuds and references to how much money she earns - hence boring.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Interesting enough

Performance was great. Story was ok but i did find her very hypocritical and had a bit of a poor me complex. The story is told in more of an up beat way and its easy enough to not let it bother you because of that. Wouldn't have finished the book if it was not being read to me i don't believe.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Don't waste a credit on this

She sold her soul, but that's everyone else fault but hers. There 10hrs 51mins I'll never get back.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A really great listen!

I really enjoyed this book, I've listened to it many times. Usually I need to wait years before I listen to or read anything again. It really gives an insight into what others believe is an ideal life, and is actually quite enlightening.

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Great read

Well read and thought out. Enjoyed every minute, was hard to stop listening. Nice to learn the truth behind the mansion.

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Surprisingly great

I chose this book for something 'lighter' to listen to. Within the first chapter I was hooked, Holly's story is truly fascinating and I was an engaged reader/listener right until the very end. If you're a fan on the girls, 100% listen to this!

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Loved it from start to finish

I loved Holly's delivery of her story in this audible telling. I enjoyed it from start to finish and plan to listen to her next book right away. A very interesting and balanced insight into her life before, during and after the playboy mansion.

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Loves it

Easy listening book!! Enjoyed the stories and honesty . Made and entertaining commute to work. Awesome

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Simply awful

The narrator was extremely nerve irritating. Reading a book outloud requires a beautiful melodic voice not the harsh shrewness of this reader. And Holly's constant whining about her life wears very thin. She plays the victim well in this narrative and for someone who claims to always take the high road in life she wastes no time in bitching about everyone who ever crossed her. Buy this book if your interested in the behind scenes of the playboy mansion but forget about it if your want a balanced read.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 28-06-2015

Entertaining but a bit one sided and snobby

While I appreciate anyone willing to write about their life, their struggles, and their insecurities (some of the most seemingly confident people can't even summon the courage to do that), I feel that at times, Holly worked a little hard at trying to portray herself as the good girl. I don't know her personally, but you don't really have to know someone well to deduce that they at some point in their life did things they weren't proud of. I highly doubt that Holly, in her self described "prison" of the Playboy Mansion, surrounded by catty, conniving, women for almost a decade, never once did anything she wasn't proud of. I feel in order to write a true biography/memoir, one needs to tell the whole story and be truthful about who they were as a person at the time good and bad. This book was entertaining at best, it took me a few days to finish but I'm glad I did. I'd say, like a guilty pleasure TV show, this book will entertain you but don't expect it to insight any reflection or deeper thinking after its done.

73 of 82 people found this review helpful

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  • MaiduCali
  • 25-06-2015

Holly knows how to tell a story

I decided to pick this book only because I found the whole thing odd. But honestly, her story telling skills and performance make this audible book very enjoyable. While I don't know whether the whole story is true, I find that the book was entertaining. This book is meant to be an audio book.

36 of 40 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Najima Rainey
  • 11-07-2015

Good beach read.

I never bought anything Hugh Hefner was selling. Not his cheap, trashy, idea of beauty, not his bs idea of the "playboy lifestyle" and definitely not the girl's next door. So I was actually kind of interested in Holly Madison's story. It's an easy, dishy, funny read and to be honest she's the least interesting part. Once the story gets into her post-mansion life it gets boring. It's definitely something for a long boring plane/car ride! By the time you're through the good stuff you'll probably be at your destination.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Brianna Gallagher
  • 24-06-2015

"Mean girls", magicians, mansions, and more!

During the early 2000s my best friend and I (freshly out of high school) idolized The Girls Next Door. We bought the simultaneously sexy and wholesome act hook, line, and sinker. Although one got the feeling it wasn't perpetual sunshine and roses, it's clear life at the mansion was darker than it seemed.

Now that I'm approaching 30, this tell-all journey of personal mistakes and self discovery resonates with me on a different level. Despite her fame, and perhaps infamy, Holly's relatable struggles in her romantic and professional lives provided a humorous but thoughtful expose fraught with "mean girls", magicians, mansions, and more.

Holly is charming, although occasionally awkward in her phrasing, but decidedly mature and candid. Her "Alice in Wonderland" theme is nicely appointed by well chosen quotes at the begin of each chapter. This is the first memoir I've ever read, but I'm very glad I did. All together very interesting, and even slightly nostalgic.

55 of 62 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Kevin Stokes
  • 27-07-2015

Very well written considering what it is.

As a man who mostly listens to fantasy and science fiction novels, this was a very unusual choice for me. Although apparently more than 1/2 of the USA would know who this woman was, I did not, for I had never heard of the 'Girls Next Door' reality show.
Ms. Madison does a very brief introduction of herself but quickly gets to where she moves into the Playboy mansion. Over 90% of the book is her describing a listless and unpleasant life where she can drive fancy cars and buy $1000 of clothes per month, but is prevented from advancing in life by draconian rules.
The main purpose of the book seemed to attempting to demonstrate to everybody how terrible Hugh Hefner is, and that she herself was just an innocent and intelligent girl that got herself in a bad situation. This is not her life story. There is so much left out of the narrative that it sometimes feels like she just wanted to cherry pick events where she felt she was wronged. For example, there is one instance where a security guard that had been friendly was rude to her. It had no reason to be included except that it bothered her.
On the other had, she really had no description of her life before the mansion. We don't know what her family had to say about any of this. What about high school and college boyfriends? There is only the briefest description of sexual activities that she participated in, because she wouldn't want to talk about that.
Overall, I thought this a much better book than you'd expect. Ms. Madison did a good job explaining exactly how everyday life worked in this bizarre household. My impression was that Ms. Madision indeed is no dummy, and that she did make some really terrible choices, but in the end, I think she did manage to skillfully turn it around in the end. Despite the shortcomings of this book, I mostly enjoyed it because it was so far out of my world. I don't know any people like this, who's life revolved around clothes, make up, and mind games with catty women.
So while keeping in mind that she wrote this self serving book because (as she states many times) she doesn't want people to think of her as a dumb bimbo, I still think she is a likable person, and I found it worth listening to.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Marwa ashoor
  • 23-06-2015

Love!

Really really good couldn't stop reading. Highly Recommend to anyone that wants a interesting book.

13 of 15 people found this review helpful

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  • Tori Nicxole
  • 25-06-2015

The other side of Girls Next Door

Like many fans that read this book.. I was a hardcore fan of the Girls Next Door. I always appreciated Holly in the show but found her somewhat cold and distant. Just as I hoped this book tells why. Things aren't always what they appear. I appreciate her honesty & willingness to open herself up to again more criticism. It was nice to actually hear her tell her story & im sure it was the final stage of letting go. I'm proud of her & really didn't want the story to end. Good job Holly!

26 of 31 people found this review helpful

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  • Lisa
  • 01-07-2015

Great listen.

Loved learning about the behind the scenes of The Girls Next Door and the subsequent shows for Holly. While I love her determination and honesty I was slightly bothered by her cruel honesty about so many who came through her life. I am doubtful that she was off about Hugh Hefner. I felt she had too many bad things to say about so many as if she was never wrong. While I not one to pass judgement, she chose to tell her story so she leaves herself open to criticism. Regardless, I am still a fan of Holly. She comes across as highly intelligent which I am sure she is given the schools she attended. I wish her well and sorry I missed her in Peep Show.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Erica
  • 28-06-2015

I am ashamed I enjoyed this!!!

The Walking Dead books are my guilty pleasure. You know, something with no literary value, but you just really just enjoy listening to. This book isn't even intelligent enough to fall into my guilty pleasure category! I am actually kind of ashamed I enjoyed it so much! Holly Madison is her own biggest fan, and she will tell you about it for hours and hours in this memoir. She was always my least favorite GND, but now, I think she is lipstick (and a big boob job) on a skinny runt of a pig. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you! This gal has the audacity to mother-F almost everyone that she ever used as a stepping stone in her B-- career. I can't lie though, I did enjoy all the BS! Holly and I are the same age (or at least the age she claims to be) so this pop culture phenomenon is from my generation. I had a go as a Hooters Girl and a swimsuit model, and I related to the way she described her early days doing the same. So that being said, there was something in me that always enjoyed GND. They were enjoying my same lifestyle but on a much more grandiose scale! I grew up and left that all behind so this book transported me to a time and place that will never be again. I enjoyed that so much and thank Holly for the instant time machine, BUT I am leaving this book with absolutely no respect for her. Throughout the book she will try and convince you that she was a victim but her calculating ways always manage to shine through. She is like a junior high girl in the way she blames everyone else for every single bad choice she made. Just own it, girl! Plus, at our age, it is really in poor taste to talk about others the way she did throughout her book. And to all of those who thought Madonna had the absolute worst fake English accent ever SURPRISE!!! You know the feeling, the one where your skin crawls because you are embarrassed for someone? Well, you will get it every time she introduces a new chapter using it. All that being said, if you are curious at all about this lifestyle, you will never regret spending this book credit!

11 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Jasmine
  • 01-07-2015

Don't Fall for the Shameless Tricks!

I was so excited to listen to this and the anticipation to read it continued to build as Holly Madison shamelessly promoted her new book; however, as I listened to her audiobook, I felt like I was the one spiraling down the rabbit hole. The first 4 hours that I listened to, I was at the edge of my seat! Then, the next 3 hours, I was slightly losing interest and was hoping for more depth. The final 3 hours, I was completely over Holly Madison and her pathetic attempt to bash a host of people, all of which included Hugh Hefner, Kendra Wilkinson, and Criss Angel. She seriously played the victim, THE ENTIRE BOOK (with the exception of the last hour, in which she describes her current husband and the birth of her child *rolls eyes*).

Without a doubt, this book was destined to be excellent; but, only if she took some accountability. She complained that Hugh Hefner was essentially a controlling womanizer, but she didn't want to accept the fact that she was a glorified whore! How could she admit to asking to stay in the Playboy mansion because she had no where else to go and she hoped that it would lead to an acting career, all while calling the other equally ambitious girls, "Hefner's concubines"? As if she was innocent in everything! Absolutely appalling! There seemed to be a double standard when it came to Madison and everyone else.

I believe Madison was attempting to shock readers into disliking the legendary Playboy founder, but instead, I lost all respect for her. This story was one lame excuse after the other, no sense of accountability, and an utter waste of listening time. I am very disappointed.

75 of 94 people found this review helpful

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  • Jilly Jones
  • 08-05-2019

BITTERNESS AT ITS FINEST

this book drained me. it wasnt fun at all. I've changed my opinion on holly.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Alice
  • 27-03-2019

Couldn’t stop listening

Holly perfectly explains all the details of the mansion, without being crude or disrespecting anyone else. A really funny, emotional and empowering story!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 12-06-2019

strong independent with a beautiful soul.

Smart , ambitious and Intelligent. Not every gorgeous Blonde is a good diggar.
Ambition would of got Holly to the top with or without Hugh Hefner.

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  • Georgia
  • 07-01-2019

Perfect for Fans

I couldn't stop listening! I loved the Girl's Next Door so Holly's stories kept me hooked. Perfect for fans of reality TV.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-11-2018

An invitation to the Playboy Mansion

This book is for anyone who has ever wondered what it's really like in the world of Playboy. I'd seen documentaries and gossip column news about Hugh Hefner and the playboy bunnies, but I always wondered what it was really like, and why the girls were happy to be paraded around in groups of cloned blonde bombshells. Holly Madison tells her own story and not only does she portray it well, but she really gives an open insight to the reality of that world. I enjoyed listening to this book a lot, and I liked how Holly read the story and told it. The book is light hearted and interesting, I would highly recommend it.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Rachel Hardy
  • 28-09-2018

Good if you can forgive the flawed narrator

there are a number of times during this book that holly comes across as spiteful, spoilt and in denial (or lying?!)

having said that, if you can view her as a 'flawed narrator' and read between the lines it is an enjoyable story and I found it very interesting to hear her version of what happened.

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  • Matthew R.
  • 06-08-2018

a unique insight into a tough world

poor Holly that was hell, she changed her life and made it, an inspirational story.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Customer
  • 23-07-2018

Not what it promised

I was hoping this was going to be a story about the rise to fame, the ups and downs, the good, the bad and the ugly. I was expecting some serious tea spilling and dark dirty secrets.
What I got was mostly a load of petty catfights and very one-sided stories from saint hollys perspective about how the other girls were bullies and gold-diggers, and took the totally innocent things she said the wrong way, which didn't all seem entirely believable.
The performance was good except for when she tried to put on mens voices which just sounded weird.
I have not seen the tv show which I thought would be a plus and it would all be new to me but actually it all was rather boring and one-note from beginning to.....well if you actually even got to the end.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Elaine Adu-Poku
  • 14-03-2018

Engaging and funny

The Girls of the Playboy Mansion (as the show was known in the UK) was a guilty pleasure of mine, and I watched every episode ... up until the original three left. Of the three Holly was my least favourite. This book however has changed my opinion of her. I was sympathising and laughing throughout.
The anecdotes and the reasonings why anyone would choose to be a ‘girlfriend’ are so alien to me, but this is an aspiration for many. And of course they slept with Hef, why else would they be living with him. The post Hef era with the awful illusionist (I can’t be bothered to write his name as he isn’t worthy 😂) and her meeting her Mr Forever show that one can definitely make the best lemonade from the lemons life throws at you.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-03-2018

loved!

really nice relatable story, couldn't put it down x z x x x x x