Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann blogtour book review

valley of the dolls

Valley of the Dolls was written by Jacqueline Susann back in 1966, 2016 marks the 50th Anniversary of this iconic novel that broke the mould in literacy.  I am so pleased and honoured to be part of the blogtour with Virago in honouring and celebrating this historical story.  Valley of the Dolls achieved the number 1 spot on The New York Times bestseller list and remained there for an unrivalled 28 weeks.

To purchase this wonderful 50th Anniversary edition, that has wonderful pink edging to the pages please visit the following link:

Product Details (as per amazon page)

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 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.


I’d like to thank the publishers Virago for my copy of this classic in return for an honest review.

The story starts in 1945 when country girl Anne arrives in New York to start her new life in the most exciting city in the world.  Anne ended up working for a big theatrical attorney.  She was definitely ‘a fish out of water’ in this new world at the start of the celeb culture but Anne soon settled and soon made friends.  One of her first friends was Neely, a 17 year old singer and dancer trying to make it big in a dance/singing trio.  Another friend Anne made was Jennifer whose beauty and figure helped her get a role in the next big Broadway show.  Neely also managed to get a role in this Broadway show with help and encouragement from Anne.We follow the girls on their quest for stardom, love and happiness but the rise to fame comes with many costs.

The demands that were placed on these young women dreaming of stardom were insurmountable.  They felt like the only release for them was a ‘red, yellow, green or even blue striped pill’ washed down with alcohol.  This was the start of a regime that very easily spiralled out of control.  Hollywood was turning the young and beautiful starlets into monsters.  This was the start of the media obsessed culture and producers expected their girls to act and look a certain way.  All most of the stars wanted was to be loved whether by an audience or by a partner.

It was a fascinating read, probably the first book to look at showbiz culture in the raw. All the razzmatazz was clouded and fuelled by drugs, alcohol and sex.  Young actors were used, manipulated and thrown aside all to make sales and Hollywood look good.  Jacqueline Susann was very honest, frank and raw with her writing.  This era wasn’t very kind to the homosexual community and people openly called them names.  With the open use of drugs, sex and alcohol and the independence of women post war wanting to work this novel and Jacqueline Susann helped to pioneer addiction, women’s rights and gay rights.

I felt very sad for Anne, Neely and Jennifer, their lives were controlled by men who wished for them to be or act like someone else.

Just as the young stars were drawn to drink and drugs I felt myself as a reader ‘drugged’ by the words on the pages.  I couldn’t get enough.  I was eager to know what happened next.  On the one hand Valley of the Dolls was shocking, tragic and heart breaking BUT on the other it was also glamorous, sexy and very indulgent!  5/5*

To find out more about this iconic novel and it’s 50th Anniversary celebrations please click on the following links:

Virago Books will be holding many celebrations with this iconic novel, please look out for details on their twitter page:

4 thoughts on “Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann blogtour book review

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