Book Reviews

Jacqueline Susann-Valley of the Dolls




Valley of the Dolls was published in 1966 and the “dolls” within the title refers to the pills that the three main female characters take. Jacqueline Susann was an American actress and writer, and Valley of the Dolls is her most famous work. It has sold approximately 30 million copies and in 1967, it was adapted into a film.

Anne Welles (Susann evidently based this character on herself and the novel is based on her own experience working in the entertainment industry) is an intelligent young woman with girl- next- door good looks who relocates to New York City to escape from Lawrenceville, Massachusetts. She works as a secretary at an entertainment law firm but goes on to star in beauty commercials. She’s in love with a man who can never love anyone as much as he loves himself, which is a large part of her demise.

Neeley O’Hara (her character is supposedly based on Judy Garland, Betty Hutton, and Frances Farmer) goes from being a struggling vaudeville performer to a hit star. Neeley is genuinely talented but she’s also incredibly self-destructive. She is in fact, her own worst enemy.

Jennifer North (her character is supposedly based on Carole Landis and Marilyn Monroe) is a showgirl who relies on her beauty to get ahead. When she realizes her looks are fading and that her fiancé loves her physical attributes first and foremost, she ends her life.

Valley of the Dolls explores the highs and lows of stardom from 1945 until 1965. All three women marry numerous times, dabble with drugs and alcohol, struggle with growing older, etc.

If you look past the over-the-top and often unrealistic parts of the novel, it’s an entertaining glimpse into an era that was both an amazing and awful time for female celebrities. If you’re interested in the 1940’s, 50’s, and 60’s, I would recommend that you read this novel. Afterwards I read about the various stars that Susann based her characters on and find their various lives fascinating.

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  1. It’s been a long time since I thought about that book. It was quite a sensation at the time.

  2. I like it. I’ve already put it on by TBR list. Because that’s definitely not long enough as it is, right?

    Thanks Kristy!
    Katie Cross recently posted…Giveaway and Book Review: Invisible by Cecily Anne PatersonMy Profile

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