Reviews Women's Fiction

Book Review | Valley of the Dolls

October 17, 2020
Valley of the Dolls on white shelf with snake plate by Jess Pierron

by Jacqueline Susann

A trashy little treasure for your bookshelf. You’re welcome.

Goodreads Description:

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 women become best friends when they are young and struggling in New York City and then climb to the top of the entertainment industry – only to find that there is no place left to go but down-into the Valley of the Dolls. 

The synopsis is small but there is so much to unpack from this book. 

So back in 1966 Jacqueline Susann wrote this book during a time where being a housewife was just what women were expected to do. But also in 1966 women were starting to embrace their femininity and inner sex goddess.  Susann’s literary writing helped pave a way for women’s rights and gave women a voice in the midst of silence.

Valley of the Dolls was considered one of the most racy novels of the 1960’s (which after reading Talia Hibbert’s books is a total laugh) but it was still the best seller of 1966 and has since sold more than 30 million copies.

This book tackles so many subjects: gay rights, women’s rights, drug abuse, coming-of-age, friendships, romance, the entertainment industry. Jacqueline Susann did an amazing job writing on difficult but very real subjects. Even though it was published over 50 years ago, it is completely relevant still today. You got sucked into these three women’s lives; their hurts, their romances, their idiotic decision-making. 

The reader follows Anne, Jennifer, and Neely while they navigate Hollywood’s entertainment industry and being a woman in a man’s world. We watch them grow and mature (well, at least try to mature) through their 20’s, 30’s, and 40’s. There will be moments where you will find yourself going, “Yep – been there, sister,”

Valley of the Dolls is labeled a cult classic and I can totally see why! It became it’s own little “doll;” sucking me into it’s bookish addiction. Wild friggin’ ride. Is it long? Yes. Is there an overload of information? Yes. Would I change a thing? Absolutely not.

I’ve got a library copy of Gone with the Wind, a quart of milk and all these cookies. Wow! What an orgy!

Jacqueline Susann, Valley of the Dolls

PUBLICATION DETAILS: Grove Press; February 1966; 442 pages; Women’s Fiction, Chick Lit, Romance, Classics

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