REVIEW - Valley of the Dolls (50th Anniversary Edition) by Jacqueline Susann

Title: Valley of the Dolls

Author: Jacqueline Susann

Publisher: Virago Modern Classics

Release Date: 1966! This version 30th June 2016

Source: Publisher ARC
Before Jackie Collins, Candace Bushnell and Lena Dunham, Jacqueline Susann held the world rapt with her tales of the private passions of Hollywood starlets, high-powered industrialists and the jet-set. Valley of the Dolls took the world by storm when it was first published, fifty years ago. 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 best 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.
  • Fifty years ago, in 1966, Valley of the Dolls achieved the No. 1 spot on The New York Times bestseller list, and stayed there for an unprecedented 28 weeks.   
  • Valley of the Dolls remains the all-time pop-culture classic, a pioneering work that tackled drug addiction, women’s rights and gay rights, profoundly influencing generations of cultural figures from Gloria Steinem to Lena Dunham   
  • Valley of the Dolls has sold over 40 million copies in 30 languages 

Jacqueline Susann is a legend in American publishing. Susann was the first author to have three consecutive #1 books on the New York Times Bestseller List. She was married to her beloved husband, producer Irving Mansfield, until her untimely death on September 21, 1974, after a courageously fought battle with breast cancer. Susann's intensely private twelve-year fight to overcome the disease was not known publicly until after death. She was 56. 

Praise for Valley of the Dolls 

“Valley of the Dolls is truly a timeless classic . . .Today Neely O’Hara would become a YouTube sensation, Jennifer North would be an Instagram influencer, and Anne Welles would be a Snapchat queen. No matter how high-toned people want to be, there’s nothing more addictive than a juicy, scandal-filled, drama-laced soap opera!”—Mickey Boardman, Paper Mag  

“Jackie, it seemed, understood by instinct that her readers were ready for the raw side of love . . . for a franker sexuality and a tougher kind of story—for romance with tears and oral sex.”—Michael Korda, New Yorker

“Racing against time for fame, Susann knew how to give readers what they wanted: a shockingly contemporary page-turner that went deep into the stuff of taboo, but still adhered to old scripts of women suffering virtuously in their undying love of men.”—Tim Murphy, Nation

“I marvel as always at the raw energy, the detail, and the grim authenticity of the book’s depiction of New York show biz society in 1945 . . . I grew up as a writer believing that this kind of bestseller was ‘trash’ . . . But I have learned from Jackie Susann. I have always respected her power.”—Anne Rice

“Susann predicted the celebrity culture we live in now. Actually, she invented it: fame is as fame does.”—Letty Pogrebin

“If Jacqueline Susann was not precisely the ‘voice of the 60s,’ then she was its aching female heart.”—Amy Fine Collins, Vanity Fair

“Decades ahead of its time . . . Mesmerizing . . . The equation of emotional dependencies with drug addiction in one comprehensive personality disorder is, if anything, more chic today than in Susann’s time.”—Mim Udovitch, Village Voice Literary Supplement

“Jacqueline Susann’s questioning of glamour and fame, so unsettling in its honesty, crept into my head and stayed there, lingering for years until I was finally able to give it my own expression.”—Lori Goldstein

“Exciting news for all you modern Dolls (#squadgoals) and aspiring millennial readers . . . the story feels more relevant than ever.”—Micaela English, Town & Country

“Valley of the Dolls remains a pop-culture touchstone: a gleefully salacious story of friendship, sex, backstabbing and pills (or ‘dolls’).”—Alexandria Symonds, T: The New York Times Style Magazine

“Valley of the Dolls is a zipper-ripper that has been called trashy, tawdry, glitzy, lusty, sordid and seamy—and that’s just the beginning of its appeal.”—Nancy Bachrach, NPR

“One of the sexiest novels ever written.”—Earl Wilson

“A generation that knows ‘Sex and the City,’ and which connects to Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls,’ may not instantly connect the dots to Susann, who did it all first, and in Pucci. A culture that cavalierly tosses off the term ‘chick lit’ doesn’t fully realize how fast Susann was out of the gate so many decades ago in the way she gave frank talk to women.”—Shinan Govani, Globe and Mail (Toronto)

“Jackie played a role in merging publishing with the entertainment industry and turning it into really big business.”—Esther Margolis

“As an adolescent I ‘borrowed’ a copy from my mother’s bedside basket of books without telling her. The Pepto Bismol–pink cover was irresistible to me, and the novel rewarded my curiosity . . . a salacious read I’ve revisited several times in adulthood.”—Laura June, The Cut, New York Magazine

“Susann’s lurid descriptions of three pill-popping young women struggling with fame and beauty—based off her own life—were vivid and relevant enough to a generation of women
clamoring for stories about themselves.”—Kate Dries, Jezebel

I originally bought this book maybe about ten years ago, it didn't have the cover that it has today but it had the most eye-catching cover with a big glittery pair of lips, white teeth and in between those teeth, a big pink pill.  As soon as I saw the cover, I had to have it.

I find it hard to believe this book is 50 years old, you could literally take any of the characters and plonk them right in this moment in time, of course they might need a few more tech gadgets but it is still a book about women, the lives they lead the friendships they forge and the men who complicate matters.

It begins in NYC in the mid forties, war is over and Anne has left small town USA and moved to the big city, beautiful and smart she finds a job working for theatrical attorneys.  

Her life goes from mundane to midtown madness as she finds friendship with Neely and Jennifer, together they start their assault on NYC, together they will climb high but what goes up must come down and that is where those delicious dolls come in.

The story covers 20 years and it really is a glamorous, sexy read but there are a lot of times when it becomes very dark.  I think this book was obviously very ahead of its time and it has obviously been a massive influence on the bonkbuster authors such as Jackie Collins and Jilly Cooper.  

I would much rather read a book like this than Fifty Shades of Grey, Valley of the Dolls may be 50 but it hasn't aged at all.

A classic to definitely put on your must read list.

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  1. I remember seeing the film on cable in the 80's, and my mom turning it off once she caught me watching it. LOL! Great review!

  2. I loved the movie. I remember seeing it on some late night movie program at my friend's house. I think that is why I ended up reading the book. I remember liking it, but not mot as much as the movie. It would be interesting to see what I think as an adult rather than a teenager.

  3. I'm very familiar with the book, but haven't actually read it. #Loser I think I saw the movie a long time ago, though. I suppose now would be a good time to read it! :D

  4. Wow. It seems like even though this book may be celebrating an anniversary it is still accurate and relevant for today. I just love books like that :D


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