Valley Of The Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

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.

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Before Ana met Christian and Carrie met Big there was a story filled with the desire for love, the pull of passion and the addiction that life within the spotlight can bring.

Valley of the Dolls begins with small town girl Anne leaving her life behind in Lawrenceville in the 1940’s. Anne is in search of something more and heads to New York City to find it.The story spans two decades and follows the lives of Anne and two other women.

When Anne first embarks on her life in New York City she finds herself neighbour to Neely, a petite seventeen year old with plans bigger than her small frame.
Later on Anne meets Jennifer, a glamour puss who has the beauty women yearn for and the body men long to touch.

Three women all from different walks of life all striving to make their way in the world!

I absolutely adored this story, it is strange to think that it was written 50 years ago and still the material seems as fresh as the day it was penned. This story hits home on the pressures that are placed not just in Hollywood or on Broadway but the pressures that women are placed under by both society and themselves.

The story explores the use of drugs (the dolls) as a way to keep slim, alert, fight insomnia etc, it explores the cocktail of drugs that at times some would use to function day to day. But this story isn’t one to glorify the taking of drugs for it also demonstrates the effect they have on a person and their mental state.

This story had my emotions on a rollercoaster when it came to rooting for the characters because there were times when my heart went out to them but there were also times when I found myself annoyed at the path they were taking.

The story also explores sexuality and passion, it was likely to have been extremely racy back in its day and thanks to the sexual exploits of Anne, Neely and Jennifer it could still be considered slightly suggestive. Throw into the mix Lyon Burke an easy on the eye cad (a present day player) and you have some sizzling chemistry.

This book has had an effect on me, I don’t know whether it is the fact that something written 50 years ago still seems current and gripping or whether it was Mr Henry Bellamy and the helpful advice he offered within the pages but either way this book has fast become a favourite of mine. And after finishing Valley of the Dolls I found myself wondering…

Did this story pave the way for advances in female literature? The taboo subjects it raised no doubt caused controversy in its era but yet something about it has remained timeless and classic making it a story that will hopefully live on forever!

A big thank you to Helen at Little Brown/Virago for sending me a copy to review and introducing me to such an incredible book!
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