Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann (Book Review)

Valley Of The DollsValley Of The Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This guilty pleasure of a book is the kind of awesome that should be hidden in the nightstand drawer with a bottle of gin.

Tame by today’s standards, but still one of the top five trashy beach reads of all time. I remember lying out on a blanket on the lawn, skimpy bikini, slathered with oil and reeking of coconut, probably with lemon juice in my hair – this was when every teenaged girl wanted to look like Farrah Fawcett. My mom looked at what I was reading, rolled her eyes, and said, “Don’t let your father see that, and please be halfway dressed when he gets home.”

Don’t think the four stars I gave it represent any actual literary quality. There is none of that. This is about as far from Literature as you can get. The dialogue is cheesy, it’s all tell and no show, the pacing is completely whacked, the characters are two-dimensional. I wanted to slap Anne upside the head through the whole thing – God, what a Mary Sue. Neely is a post-war Britney Spears, and Jennifer is the stereotypical blonde bombshell with no talent. All three seek the success of good marriages and showbiz, in the days when Nice Girls didn’t do it, men were encouraged to be oversexed, misogynistic douchebags, and it was still socially acceptable to wear real fur.

That’s what you read this book for, the glitter and the smut and the ladies’ room catfight. You don’t read it for the writing. The writing is like a high-schooler’s first draft of a soap opera.

Seconals. Irma had given her four. (“They’re like gold to me. I can’t give you any more.”) Irma had replaced Neely in the show. She claimed the little red ‘dolls’ had saved her life.

Like that. Seriously, the writing is bad. All the sentences are the same length.

But — it works. My high school friends and I passed tattered paperback copies around like Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill at a basement sleepover. Broadway and Hollywood! Booze! Pills! Premarital sex, extramarital sex, revenge sex! More pills and more booze! Sequins and lipstick and ten-carat diamond engagement rings! Modeling jobs and movie contracts! London affairs and Reno divorces and Mexican abortions! Or is it Mexican divorces and Swedish abortions? Whatever! Yet more pills, washed down with yet more booze!

I have to say, it was almost as much fun as a reread, but with a nice merlot.


Author: Deborah Lee

I like trees, dreaming, magic, books, paper, floating, dreaming, rhinos, rocks, stargazing, wine, dragonflies, trains, and silence to hear the world breathe.

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