I am somewhat breaking my cardinal rule of not discussing book club books before book club on account of I just finished this month’s selection, Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls, and I simply must write a (brief) review now! Valley of the Dolls is the perfect summer beach read. In fact, I’m kind of disappointed I didn’t save it for my upcoming trip to Myrtle Beach. While I probably won’t have a whole lot of time to read while I’m chasing Leah around the beach, it’s just the kind of book that makes you think “beach read!”. I suppose now I’ll have to go buy some cheap but trashy romance novels somewhere!!!
Valley of the Dolls is the story of Anne, Neely, and Jennifer, three unknowns who arrive in New York City and climb the show biz ladder to fame and fortune. Neely arrives with a traveling vaudeville act and becomes a Broadway star which leads to movie stardom, Jennifer starts on Broadway and moves to European art films before returning to the US to become a major star, and Jennifer works as a secretary for a talent agency and eventually is discovered and becomes a TV star in her own right. All three women find out it’s not so much fun at the top, their paths littered with broken hearts and bottles of pills, which they call “dolls”.
I must say, I enjoyed the hell out of this book, probably to an embarrassing degree. I was sure I would hate it, it seemed from the description rather superficial and uninspired, but it was compelling and interesting. It was a bit voyeuristic, and I could only imagine the headlines today if these women and their men had been real people. No doubt we’d see them splashed across the cover of People and Us and OK with alarming regularity.
I rated it 4 stars on GoodReads, although I based that on my enjoyment of the book rather than on its merits. It also counts for the TwentyTen Book Challenge, in the “Older Than You” category, since it came out in the lat 60’s, and I am of mid-70’s vintage.