Favorites: Valley of the Dolls by Jaqueline Susann

22 Apr

“You’ve got to climb Mount Everest to reach the Valley of the Dolls.”

This book is, and always will be, in my top five favorites. I’ve re-read it on countless vacations. This is trashy, sensational writing about sex, drugs and Hollywood. And it’s wonderful.  While the title is probably mostly known from the 1967 film adaptation starring Patty Duke as Neely O’Hara, Sharon Tate as Jennifer North and Barbara Parkins as Anne Welles, the book was a runaway sensation in its own right.

The book stands the test of time because Hollywood still peddles these stories when they market actresses today. You have Anne Welles, the blond, moneyed, uptight New England girl trying to make it on her own in New York. And Neely O’Hara, the gypsy girl who comes from nothing, upstages the biggest star of her day and becomes an international sensation. And finally, Jennifer North, the homespun girl who is gets “discovered” out of the blue, achieving super stardom.

When you get the one thing you’ve always wanted, what comes next?

For these women, it was the Dolls. Those iconic rainbow pills -drugs like Seconal, Demoral, Percocet and sleeping pills.

All three get what they want most in the world. For Anne, it’s Lyon Burke, the perennial bad boy. When she finally lands him, she finds herself trapped in an emotionally dead marriage. For Neely, it’s superstardom. But when she makes hit movie after hit movie, she finds herself without the self worth she assumed would accompany fame.  For Jennifer, it’s fame and adoration.  Yet when she achieves it using her body, she desperately wants to be valued for something else.

They all turn to pills. And they all fall to pieces. Neely’s self destruction is loud, noisy and splashed across every newspaper a la Lindsay Lohan.  Anne’s is quieter, as she sinks into herself and the terrible life she created.  Jennifer goes out with a bang, unable to cope with the fact that the world will never see past her body.

Outside the fantastic stories, Susann broke down barriers for female authors as the first woman to achieve this level of sales for a roman à clef, or a fictionalized version of real life events. And yes, that’s right. This book is a thinly veiled version of real life events. Check out the wikipedia page for an overview of the real life actors, actresses and experiences that Susann drew from when creating the book.

Need a sample of the drama before diving in? Check out the movie trailer!

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7 Responses to “Favorites: Valley of the Dolls by Jaqueline Susann”

  1. bookgirl1987 April 24, 2012 at 2:05 pm #

    I’ve read Valley twice. It’s a flamboyant book you might feel embarrassed with at first but you inevitably finish it. Valley fits perfectly into my Guilty Pleasure category, and I love a good trashy read every now and then. The 1967 film looks a tad boring once you’ve read the book and the acting can be so exaggerated in older films. A modern version might interest me, though. Again, it’s a good book. Do you recommend Jacqueline Susann’s other novels?

    • HelloKatieO April 24, 2012 at 5:11 pm #

      I really liked Once is not Enough. In a similar vein, I’m finishing Peyton Place now which reminds me of Valley of the Dolls, except set in a scandalous small New Hampshire town.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. HelloKatieO’s #CBR4 Review #29: Peyton Place by Grace Metalious « Book It. - April 26, 2012

    […] Place is a classic soap opera set in an uptight New England town. It’s closely tied to Valley of the Dolls in my mind – both were groundbreaking, trashy novels about the scandalous realities of a […]

  2. Review #29: Peyton Place by Grace Metalious « Book It. - April 26, 2012

    […] Place is a classic soap opera set in an uptight New England town. It’s closely tied to Valley of the Dolls in my mind – both were groundbreaking, trashy novels about the scandalous realities of a […]

  3. HelloKatieO’s #CBR4 Review #29: Peyton Place by Grace Metalious « Cannonball Read IV - April 26, 2012

    […] Place is a classic soap opera set in an uptight New England town. It’s closely tied to Valley of the Dolls in my mind – both were groundbreaking, trashy novels about the scandalous realities of a […]

  4. Book Review 21: The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe | Book It. - March 13, 2013

    […] each other, and the world, has changed, I straight up enjoyed The Best of Everything much more.  Valley of the Dolls is one of my all time favorite books, definitely top 5, and I’ve easily read it 20 […]

  5. HelloKatieO’S #CBR5 Review #21: The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe | Cannonball Read V - March 13, 2013

    […] each other, and the world, has changed, I straight up enjoyed The Best of Everything much more.  Valley of the Dolls is one of my all time favorite books, definitely top 5, and I’ve easily read it 20 […]

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