Tag: Jacqueline Susann

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

Posted December 6, 2015 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Classic / 0 Comments

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline SusannTitle: Valley of the Dolls (Goodreads)
Author: Jacqueline Susann
Published: Time Warner Books, 1966
Pages: 467
Genres: Classic
My Copy: Paperback

Buy: AmazonBook DepositoryKindle (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Pills! Pills will fix everything. Known as dolls, these red, yellow or green pills all serve a purpose. Although the more frequently you take them the more tolerance you build up, requiring more pills in a vicious cycle. Valley of the Dolls is a 1966 cult classic written by Jacqueline Susann, exploring the world of pop culture and Hollywood. This is a roman à clef that explores the life of three friends; Anne, Jennifer and Neely and their aspirations in life.

Jacqueline Susann is very blunt in the Valley of the Dolls and it is painfully obvious what she wants to say. This did not stop me from absolutely enjoying this novel and I found myself slowing down to stay in the world of these three woman. Susann wants to explore ideas of fame, money and even love; showing that just because you have what seems like the perfect life, does not mean it is perfect, particularly when it comes to fame. Each character seems to succeed in their perspective careers and once at the top, there is nowhere left to go but down.

Each of the three characters are different and the shifting perspectives help explore their lives. I really liked Jennifer, she was sassy and head strong. She was considered a great beauty, with big breasts and it was interesting to follow her life. She frequently becomes nothing but a pair of breasts and people often cared about nothing else about her. Anne was the more grounded character and gave a nice balance between Jennifer and Neely. I did not like Neely as a character; a big shot actress and often a difficult diva. I liked how different each character was but I did find myself wanting the sections about Neely to hurry up and end so I could move on to one of the others.

The novel deals with plenty of social issues, and we have to remember that the 1960s was a time of great political and social change. This allowed Jacqueline Susann a chance to express her opinions on sex, sexism, addiction, abortion and mental illness. At times it can be very descriptive and hard to read, especially when it comes to the sexism and slurs. I think this is an important element of the book and really allowed you to feel the negativity that these women had to struggle through.

Valley of the Dolls was such an enjoyable novel, not without its flaws but I found myself sucked into this world. I am glad to follow these three woman, through their ups and downs in life. I find myself become more of a fan of the roman à clef; which is a book about real life disguised as a piece of fiction. I know this novel gets a lot of criticism, mainly about Jacqueline Susann’s bluntness towards the social issues but I found this wonderful and so happy to finally read it.