Book Review: Valley of the Dolls

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

The blurb: The exploits and excesses of three pill-popping showbiz heroines: Anne, the smalltown girl supposedly modelled on Grace Kelly, who captivates a millionaire but falls for an English cad; Jennifer, the beautiful Marilyn Monroe clone who possesses everything – except immortality; and Neely, the ruthless Judy Garlandesque understudy-turned-superstar. As friends – and enemies – they learn the hard way that fame, fortune, beauty and stardom don’t always equal happiness. Jacqueline Susann’s sensational novel staked her claim as a pop pioneer, perfectly crystallized the decadence of the 1960s – and ushered in a whole new genre of mass-market fiction.

My review: This book was recommended to me by a friend who had just read it in her book club. The cover is fabulous although I think slightly misleading. I thought the book was going to be set in the eighties during a pop pink, excess showbiz lifestyle. But it is far classier than that.

As the blurb states, Valley of the Dolls follows the lives of three girls, Jennifer, Anne and Neely in post-War New York. Three girls who are thrown together and become friends, their rise to super-stardom and their inevitable fall from grace.

I really warmed to Jennifer and Neely, I wanted them to succeed and yet they had the bigger personality flaws, the tougher obstacles to overcome. Whereas New England Anne has it relatively easy, is portrayed as the nicer of the three, the one who’s the most there for the others and yet I didnt warm to her at all, I nearly didnt continue with the book as Anne is the main focus of the first section. I also found some of their decisions and situations they found themselves in to be slightly ridiculous but that’s probably with my 2011 eyes.

You can see why VotD is a cult classic, its an epic, spanning decades of New York and Hollywood at their most glamourous, in the time of Fred Astaire and Judy Garland. I’m glad I’ve read it, I won’t necessarly be recommending it to everyone I meet, but there’s a story in there of great magnitude with an emphasis on fame and what it does to our humanity. The things you are forced to give up, the decisions that women have to make, or had to make, it’s almost a reverse feminist book, a what not to do. All three women in the book give up their dignity and pride at different points.  Definitely a classic, definitely something that will stay with me but don’t read it if you like the brighter side of life!

7 out of 10 stars *******!

BUY ME! Valley Of The Dolls

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