Valley of the Dolls (Jacqueline Susann, 1966)

August 21, 2023 | Posted by Lesley Jakobsen | FILM, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS | 1 Comment |

In 1945 Anne Welles is a prissy but astonishingly beautiful young woman who will do anything to get away and stay away from her small home town.  She trips in, all nice and fresh, to New York and immediately gets a job with a marvellous legal firm that specialises in managing movie stars’ contracts.  Her new friend Jennifer North is astonishingly beautiful too but most importantly she has SENSATIONAL KNOCKERS.  Everyone admires her boobs.  The brain dead but astonishingly beautiful singer she marries wants to drink from them (vomit). The sensitive upright senator she is later engaged to calls them ‘my babies’ and fondles them when Jennifer is in a hospital bed (Double vomit).  Anne and Jennifer are friends with Neely O’Hara who is not astonishingly beautiful but freckly and pert and is an astonishingly fabulous singer.

Anne compromises her way through life, ignoring the wise advice of her boss Henry Bellamy, the best character in the book, although he is not astonishingly beautiful. Henry tells the reader what is wrong with Anne’s latest mad idea.  He tells her not to touch his younger business partner, the fickle but astonishingly beautiful Lyon Burke. We know she cannot resist Lyon. No-one can, that’s the problem. The only advice Anne does accept from fatherly Henry is financial. So she becomes fabulously rich and stupidly unhappy..

Meanwhile Jennifer is using her chest to full advantage in risque European movies (those French!) and Neely is degenerating into Judy Garland.

The book was (allegedly) shocking for the time, given its characters’ relatively loose morals: no-one had sex or took drugs in 1966, apparently. The ‘dolls’ of the title, are, famously, ‘pills’.  These chicks do take a lot of uppers, downers and sidewaysers, even judgmental old Anne in the end, but the title seems misplaced: this reader expected much more stuffing of the face with drugs. It’s certainly a page-turner, pacey and absorbing. Not Dostoyevsky (but it’s got boobs).

1 Comment

  1. Reply

    Margot Jakobsen

    August 24, 2023

    Great read by an acerbic wit.

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