Valley of the Dolls is the pits

Valley of the Dolls is a tale of three amoral young women looking for happiness in New York City in 1945.

They live life in the fast lane, pointed downhill and accelerating.

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susan

Bernard Geis, 1966. 442 pp. #1 bestseller 1966. My grade: D-.

collage of women's faces, pills

Anne Wells is a Radcliff-educated beauty with impeccable taste in everything except men.

Through her job for a theatrical attorney, Anne meets Jennifer, who is trying to parlay her face and figure into a fortune, and Neely, who is trying to become a star through talent and hard work.

All three sink to bed-hopping and pill-popping.

Perhaps Jacqueline Susan’s packaging of her novel as an exposé of life in the fast lane was the bait that led normally sensible readers to make it the top-selling novel in the US in 1966.

It certainly wasn’t the plot, which is little more than a dramatization of the graffiti found in a high school toilet.

Susan ends the novel by assuring readers that people who do the things she has described so vividly will end in the valley of the dolls, a slang term for drug addiction.

Instead of being the saving grace that pulls the novel from the gutter, the tacked-on moral ending is the damming blow that condemns it forever to the trash heap.

© 2016 Linda Gorton Aragoni

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Linda G. Aragoni

I make big ideas simple for learners. In eight sentences, 34 words, I taught teens and adults to write competently. Now I'm writing guides to turn willing volunteers into great nursing home visitors.

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