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Beauty AND Brains: Valley of the Dolls Book Review

I'm going to start a new series here at Socialite Dreams called Beauty AND Brains which will be book reviews of stuff that I read and found to be interesting, that you may enjoy as well :)   

The first book that will be reviewed here is a classic written in the 60s yet could have been published last year and no one would have known any better.  It's crazy that relationships, show business, friendships, etc have changed so little!  In my reviews, I'll try to not give away TOO much of the plot so that it's not spoiled.

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann 

Love/relationships, drugs, show business, betrayal...this book has it all for those who like chick-lit!  It was quite ahead of its' time apparently and a good read in this time.  Some of the references/ideas are a bit quaint and clearly of a bygone era, but for the most part it shows that how we deal with one another is timeless. 

The story starts with Anne the naive 20 year old who needed to escape her dull New England town where she's been raised to live, breed, and die in the same house who has just moved to NYC and wants to work/live on her own so that she can experience real life, Neely the spunky 17 year old who wants a shot at fame but needs someone in her corner for once who'll nurture her singing/dancing talents, and Jennifer, the sexy goddess who has been raised by a mother to use her looks/body to get what she wants (money) when what she really craves is stability and married life/kids. 

They each are at a point of trying to get some type of career rolling when the book begins: Anne has started working at an entertainment agency/law firm, Neely is attempting to become a stage star with a little group that she's in, and Jennifer is the looker who has taken a role in a play so that she can continue to hobnob with celebrities and marry someone wealthy.  

Things start moving for them with relationships, job offers, cross country moves but they remain friends and it's interesting to see how fame/wealth can change some and leave others completely the same. The "dolls" in the title are in reference to the drugs that they each start to depend on at different points in their lives, innocently started as diet or sleeping aids and turning into full on addictions.  Drugs are still rampant in the fame circle where doctors seem unable to JUST SAY NO to their famous clientele (I swear to god Neely's drug habits sounded like what's been told/released about Michael Jackson's unfortunate descent, from sleeping aids to demerol, etc. Crazy!).   

My main gripe with the book would be the male characters.  The men were mostly narcissistic jackasses who only cared about themselves:  two of them happily strung along a main character in different ways for 15 years, one waited until he was old and broken down to suddenly "need her in his life" and wanted to marry her when really it was a desire for a NURSE because she'd have to take care of him now that he was old and worn out.  

There was NO self reflection on any of the characters parts, really.  I don't know why the book had to span more than a decade when the characters at the end of the book pretty much acted/thought the same way as they had at the beginning.  It was a good read with lots of ups and downs, but dang!  No one learned anything in 15 years???  Even through drug overdoses, suicide attempts, bombshell revelations, betrayals?  

I can see how this would have been pretty scandalous in 1966 with the rampant drug use, premarital sex, sassy women but it's hardly raunchy by today's standards lol.  It IS good though, if you like looks into people's lives as they fall in love, deal with relationships, battle self esteem issues, go into rehab/funny farms/nuthouses, have abortions, climb the social/career ladder and sometimes plummet from the top.  

I give the book a 4 out of 5 stars :)   

It can be purchased here: Amazon

Have you ever read it?  What'd you think?

2011 Reading Challenge

2011 Reading Challenge
Vonnie has read 10 books toward her goal of 100 books.

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