Valley of the Dolls
Valley of the Dolls took the world by storm when it was first published in 1966. Never had a book been so frank about sex, drugs and show business. It is often cited as the bestselling novel of all time.
Dolls – red or black; capsules or tablets washed down with vodka or swallowed straight. For Anne, Neely and Jennifer it doesn’t matter, as long as the pill bottle is within easy reach. These three beautiful women become friends when they are young and in New York, struggling to make their names in the entertainment industry. Only when they reach the peak of their careers do they find there’s nowhere left to go but down – to the Valley of the Dolls.
Tempted by the beauty of the Virago Modern Classic edition, this book once purchased sat, beautifully on my shelf. Never quite making it off the shelf, for fear of being too ‘light’ too ‘romantic’ too ‘Jackie Collins’ too ‘female’? All of these things and more, until that is an Instagram readalong gave me the nudge to open this stunning edition of Valley of the Dolls.
And am I glad I did. This is such an entertaining read, well deserving of its status of best selling book of all times. Following the lives of three women Anne, Neely and Jennifer as they achieve success in the world of show business, this book tells their stories through timeshots of their lives in named and dated chapters. Their friendship remains as their path’s converge at points in their journeys.
This book reads like a story of 2 halves, the success and ascent of fame, with all its glamour and material wealth makes for a glitzy first half. Then, once at the top of their game, the women realise it is not everything it promised to be. Leading sad and empty lives the book takes a tragic turn while remaining a highly entertaining read.
Of its time, this book highlights the role, perception and aspirations of women in post war America. I was surprised not to feel frustrated by this, in terms of how the women perceived there own worth, how tied to appearance this was and the need for a man. Despite this the women were strong and determined within their roles, wanting to achieve success and independence and in many ways they were liberal and this book shocked on its release.
I found this book a very enjoyable read and would highly recommend it. Within the group I read it with there was a little disappointment over the ending, particularly of Anne’s story, however this did not detract from the enjoyment of the read, which got a unanimous thumbs up!
First published 1966
Virago Hardback Edition Published 2008.