Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Review of the Day: Valley of the Dolls



Valley of the Dolls may be the most famous of all "trashy" novels, which is why I've always wanted to read it. I have never even seen the movie, so I never knew what it was about. I had a vague, misconceived notion that the book was about women (dolls) . . . who lived in a valley? Maybe in Connecticut?

How do these ideas take root?

Jacqueline Susann's novel is actually about three young women who come to New York City after World War II, looking for fame and fortune. Anne comes from a well-off but stodgy New England background, gets a job as a secretary to a high-powered attorney-for-the-stars, and exercises extremely poor judgment in her choice of men.  Neely is a 17-year-old vaudeville trouper who dreams of becoming a musical star. Jennifer is a no-talent bombshell who builds a career around her enormous boobs.

The story rips along through two decades, following the careers, love affairs, break-ups, crack-ups, and tragedies of the three until they start to lose their youth, beauty, health, and sanity.  As life gets tougher, all three eventually turn to sleeping pills (red "dolls) to get through the night and pep pills (green "dolls") to get through the day.

And there is no happy ending.

Which is why I now  wish I hadn't read it. I don't mind sordid during the story, but I like a happy -- or at least hopeful -- ending, with the bad guys getting their comeuppance and the good guys prevailing. What with the booze and pills and adultery and abortions and back stabbing and general ugliness, I just wanted a good scrubbing by the time I got to the end. 


OTHER REVIEWS
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NOTES

I read this for the Birth Year Reading Challenge hosted by the Hotchpot Cafe. So at least I get a candle!


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