Jacqueline Susann’s 1966 novel follows three beautiful young women as they attempt to navigate the fast-paced world that is New York City. The story picks up with Anne Welles’ move from Lawrenceville, MA, a small-minded small town filled with tight-lipped, stereotypical unfeeling New Englanders, to a shabby one-room apartment in uptown Manhattan. In a Cinderella-esque story, she quickly becomes engaged to Allen Cooper, a timid man who, along with the multi-carat ring, reveals himself to be one of the town’s greatest millionaires. Yet, as foreshadowed through the warnings of her boss and trusted advisor Henry Bellamy, Anne finds herself falling for known lady-killer Lyon Burke.
Anne befriends Neely O’Hara, a bright-eyed ambitious 17-year-old performer, and Jennifer North, a stunning, yet talentless starlet. As the ladies advance through their careers, finding fame, fortune, illicit love affairs, and the occasional romance, they turn to pills, or as they so affectionally refer to them as, “dolls,” to provide an escape from their worries. The intermittent pill soon becomes habit, washed down with a half-bottle of brandy and a monologue.
To venture through a 442-page novel such as the vehemoth that is Valley of the Dolls may seem like a nuisance, but you find yourself more invested with each unexpected (and, at times, inevitable) plot deviant until you eventually end up wishing the book was three times its mass. To say that it’s worth a read would be an understatement.
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