Everybody has guilty pleasures.
From ice cream at midnight, to "bodice rippers" books, we all love our guilty pleasures every now and then. Mine happens to be "can't put down" books and Toblerone chocolate. So it was that while we celebrated our country's birthday several days ago, I picked up a copy of the 50th anniversary edition of Jacqueline Susann's cult classic novel, Valley of the Dolls. I had been a fan of the movie for years, yet I never read the book. However, as I began reading it that night, I knew that it would be even better than the movie. Two days later, I can honestly say that it was.
Meet Anne, Neely, and Jennifer - three girls in New York in the late 40s who want a different life than what society had deemed for them. While Anne had the distinguished looks and reserved New England demeanor, Jennifer had large "assets" and a body that wouldn't quit, and Neely had the golden heart of a singer who wanted to make it big on Broadway. These three women wanted a different life filled with designer clothes, men who wanted to marry them, and respect in all forms. They wanted to be the new women of the world, a different age than their parents. They had the world at the their feet and they knew it.
(yes, I really do own the original soundtrack on vinyl!)
Only one problem: the rise to success was a slippery slope, and soon they found themselves in a deep valley, one that is impossible to get out of. It is a valley made of "dolls", or pills that either woke you up and kept you from eating, or made you sleep through the night when sleep wouldn't come naturally. Just one little doll, they would all say. Just one doll and my life suddenly becomes better.
Valley of the Dolls is one of those books that must be read with much chocolate and no disturbances. Once you meet the three women and are suddenly flung into their lives, you find it hard to disentangle yourself from the webs they weave. Anne would do anything for a certain British man, even going so far as to dump two other millionaire men who desperately loved her. Neely rose to the top of her game, yet paid a price that even she could never escape. Jennifer wanted a man who would love her and not just her "assets", yet used her body as both a weapon and her ticket out of a crummy life. Lies are spoken, hearts are repeatedly crushed, wigs come flying off, and pills are freely given out. Welcome to the Valley.
Like I said, I am a big fan of the movie; when I found out that this year was the 50th anniversary of the book, I knew I had to get it. Such a worthwhile guilty pleasure that chronicles America as it surged through so many changes. Buy this book, watch the movie, and don't be tempted by the Dolls!