Valley of the Dolls | Jacqueline Susann
Because I've recently started writing this blog, I find myself being drawn to reading new releases. My favorite things to read are psychological thrillers and adult fiction, so if I'm not careful I'll get into a reading rut where I'm always trying to read the latest and greatest thing.
Enter one of my favorite things to do while hanging out with friends- asking them tell tell me about their favorite book. That's actually how I found the Valley of the Dolls. I vaguely remember this book being around my house when I was little (mom and I are both huge readers), but for some reason I always thought this was a scary book. I think I'm thinking of children of the corn or something about children living under the stairs... I don't know. The 90s were weird. At any rate, thanks to my friend I came across this book. She described it as a book that's set in the 60s that chronicles the rise and fall of three women in show business. And the dolls? They're a euphemism for pills.
I LOVED this book! it is an absolute classic. It was a debut novel for Jacqueline Susann that was published in the late '60s. It's definitely dated (the word fag is used a lot, and not in reference to cigarettes) but there are themes that are definitely still relevant today. It was also really fun to read and gave me a sense as to what it must have been like to be a women in that era. Honestly, it reminds me of a 60's version of The Real Housewives.
There are three main characters: Anne, Neely, and Jennifer. Anne is model beautiful but doesn't know it. She moves to New York and gets a job as a receptionist, and immediately falls in love with the worst guy for her. Her neighbor, Neely, is a fantastic singer who has been in the business since she was a kid who is struggling to get noticed. Jennifer is an established star, who is stunningly beautiful with questionable talent. The girls struggle to make it big in show biz, and ultimately dabble in prescription pills, plastic surgery, booze, and sex. The story is told in 3rd person, so the reader is privvy to the girls' inner monologue. It was a fascinating look into the expectations of women at that time- and a lot of it is not that far off from how it is today. The emphasis placed on trying to be perfect ultimately leads to all of their downfall.
I don't often read books that were written 50+ years ago, but this book did not seem dated to me at all. I can completely see why this is a cult classic. I don't usually watch movies but after reading this I had to run to Netflix and check out the movie version. And it was terrible in the best way possible. The fashion is everything, it's cheesy as hell, but it actually follows relatively closely to the novel. Patty Duke (Neely) is stunning and fantastically overdone and Sharon Tate is a beautiful Jennifer North. I also couldn't help but think about Tate's actual death (for the Millennials- she was murdered by members of the Manson family. The murder that the book The Girls was based on). Both the book and the movie are classics and I will certainly read this one again!