I remember reading this many moons ago, and enjoying it.
In honour of the 50th anniversary Little, Brown book Group and Virago are celebrating with a special anniversary edition, due to be released on June 30th.
Before Jackie Collins, Candace Bushnell and Lena Dunham, Jacqueline Susann held the world rapt with her tales of the private passions of Hollywood starlets, high-powered industrialists and the jet-set.
Valley of the Dolls took the world by storm when it was first published, fifty years ago. Never had a book been so frank about sex, drugs and show business. It is often cited as the bestselling novel of all time.
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.
Extract from Valley of the Dolls
She would never go back to Lawrenceville! She hadn’t just left Lawrenceville – she had escaped. Escaped from marriage to some solid Lawrenceville boy, from the solid, orderly life of Lawrenceville. The same orderly life her mother had lived. And her mother’s mother. In the same orderly kind of a house. A house that a good New England family had lived in generation after generation, its inhabitants smothered with orderly, unused emotions, emotions stifled beneath the creaky iron armor called ‘manners.’
(‘Anne, a lady never laughs out loud.’ ‘Anne, a lady never sheds tears in public.’ ‘But this isn’t public, I’m crying to you, Mama, here in the kitchen.’ ‘But a lady sheds tears in privacy. You’re not a child, Anne, you’re twelve, and Aunt Amy is here in the kitchen. Now go to your room.’)
And somehow Lawrenceville had pursued her to Radcliffe. Oh, there were girls who laughed and shed tears and gossiped and enjoyed the ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of life. But they never invited her into their world. It was as if she wore a large sign that said, Stay Away. Cold, Reserved New England Type. More and more she retreated into books, and even there she found a pattern repeated: it seemed that virtually every writer she encountered had fled the city of his birth. Hemingway alternated between Europe, Cuba and Bimini. Poor bewildered, talented Fitzgerald had also lived abroad. And even the red, lumpy-looking Sinclair Lewis had found romance and excitement in Europe. She would escape from Lawrenceville! It was as simple as that. She made the decision in her senior year at college and announced it to her mother and Aunt Amy during her Easter vacation.
‘Mama . . . Aunt Amy . . . when I finish college I’m going to New York.’
‘That’s a dreadful place for a vacation.’
‘I intend to live there.’
‘Have you discussed this with Willie Henderson?’
‘No. Why should I?’
‘Well, you’ve kept company since you both were sixteen.
Everybody naturally assumes . . .’
‘That’s just it. In Lawrenceville everything is assumed.’
‘Anne, you are raising your voice,’ her mother said calmly. ‘Willie Henderson is a fine boy. I went to school with his daddy and his mother.’
‘But I don’t love him, Mama.’
Jacqueline Susann is a legend in American publishing. Susann was the first author to have three consecutive #1 books on the New York Times Bestseller List. She was married to her beloved husband, producer Irving Mansfield, until her untimely death on September 21, 1974, after a courageously fought battle with breast cancer. Susann’s intensely private twelve-year fight to overcome the disease was not known publicly until after death. She was 56.
Fifty years ago, in 1966, Valley of the Dolls achieved the No. 1 spot on The New York Times bestseller list, and stayed there for an unprecedented 28 weeks.
Virago Modern Classics designer hardback and merchandise (notebook and mug) also available, designed by the founder of Biba, Barbara Hulanicki
Valley of the Dolls remains the all-time pop-culture classic, a pioneering work that tackled drug addiction, women’s rights and gay rights, profoundly influencing generations of cultural figures from Gloria Steinem to Lena Dunham
Valley of the Dolls has sold over 40 million copies in 30 languages
‘50 years later, it’s still spot on. The world’s changed immensely but the climb to the top is still a tough one’ Michael Kors
‘Much imitated, but never bettered’ Daily Telegraph
‘Jackie, it seemed, understood by instinct that her readers were ready for the raw side of love… for a franker sexuality and a tougher kind of story – for romance with tears AND oral sex’ The New Yorker