Book review: Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

Valley of the DollsValley 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 sited 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.


Today is my stop on the blog tour for the Valley of the Dolls 50th Anniversary! Before getting the opportunity to review this book I honestly hadn’t heard of this book, even though it is 50 years old now. Way back in 1966 this book spent a whopping 28 weeks at the top of the New York Times bestsellers list. Things like that are what made me want to read The Valley of the Dolls. I needed to know why people thought it was so good and why it is still popular 50 years later.

The novel follows three protagonists, Anne, Neely and Jennifer and their lives in New York. They all trying to make it in the entertainment industry. I found it a little strange that the book wasn’t really about the women’s journey to ‘making it’. The novel focuses on the kinds of struggles that each woman encounters once she has actually achieved her dreams.

I really enjoyed how real this novel was. I can imagine it would have been quite shocking when it was released back in 1966. A large part of the novel is about drugs and there are also cat fights, affairs, drinking, porn etc. Although 50 year old, Valley of the Dolls is still so relevant because of the issues raised. I think this is why I liked the book as much as I did. I could see how people would react in some of the same ways today, had they been put in the same kinds of situations.

Something else that I really enjoyed was the focus on body image. It was interesting to see what people would do to achieve what they thought was required of them. Not only is this still really relevant in the entertainment industry now but in a lot of different places and situations. People feel pressured to wear certain clothes, look a certain way and be as skinny as people on the front of magazines. This is something that comes up every day in current culture and a topic I think is  really important to tackle.

Valley of the Dolls was not what I was expecting and I liked it much more than I thought I would!

Be sure to check out other stops on the blog tour!

You can take a quiz here to find out which doll you are!

*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

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