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. 

(If you would like your review posted here, please leave a comment with a link to your review post and I will add it.)


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


  1. Hmm, yes, I pretty much thought this was about the same thing that you did. Girls in a valley. I'll probably check it out at some point out of curiosity, but I'll keep your words in mind.

  2. I read this years ago and wondered what all the fuss was about after I did. I didn't think it was all that well written and I thought it was sad.

  3. I read it when it came out to see what all the buzz was about. I have successfully blocked it out since then.


  4. Does this mean you won't be checking out the movie version? Good, trashy fun! Go Patty Duke! Oh yeah, and Susan Hayward and Patty Duke have a catfight...whee..

    The trashy novel on my to-read list is called The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe. It has eluded my grasp for decades. The one time I saw it, I was too broke to buy it! @#$%$!

  5. I should thank you for saving me time, I don't think I have to read this book!!!Thanks.

  6. Charley -- Nothing like lowered expectations to make it more bearable!

    Bermuda -- It was sad! Really sad. That's what made me so grouchy.

    SS -- I need to block it out. I was not expecting such a dark ending.

    Bybee -- Now I don't know about the movie. Maybe they sugar coated it, which I would like better. But if it is one of those 1970s realistic movies, I may pass. I am still recovering from Cassandra Crossing.

    BookQuoter -- Yes, there are plenty of other trashy novels that would be much more enjoyable. And, for sexy classics, you can't beat Fear of Flying.

  7. I remember my mother reading this when it came out and although I didn't know the details, it remains strongly associated in my mind with thrilling, illicit "adult" things. Must have been a real barrier-buster for its time, but it sounds like it hasn't aged well.

  8. P.S. But you got a candle for it, anyway! :-)

  9. Don't worry, no one would ever call the movie "realistic." I loved this book. Forgot about the sad ending (the movie ending is more hopeful), but I guess that didn't really bother me so much. I think this is a fantasic trashy read! You should watch the moive.


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