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Valley of the Dolls

3.67  ·  Rating Details  ·  30,714 Ratings  ·  2,228 Reviews
Sex and drugs and shlock and more -- Jacqueline Susann's addictively entertaining trash classic about three showbiz girls clawing their way to the top and hitting bottom in New York City has it all. Though it's inspired by Susann's experience as a mid-century Broadway starlet who came heartbreakingly close to making it, but did not, and despite its reputation as THE roman ...more
Paperback, 467 pages
Published November 24th 2003 by Time Warner Books UK (first published 1966)
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Dec 03, 2013 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lindsay lohan, britney spears, et al
If you haven't read this book, I suggest you quit dicking around on the internet and do absolutely whatever it takes to snag yourself a copy this instant. Granted it's probably not for everyone, but I gotta tell you, this is seriously among THE MOST VASTLY ENTERTAINING books I have ever read in my life.

Imagine you are lying in a silk-sheeted waterbed next to a vast swimming pool, smoking a ridiculously long cigarette, wearing an Italian bikini and extremely large, expensive hat, and you've just
Paul Bryant
May 18, 2014 Paul Bryant rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I bought a copy for 10p at the Oxfam shop. I returned to my space age bachelor pad, switched on my lava lamp, reclined on my La-Z-Boy (late 1970s Magic Fingers model), mixed a bright puce cocktail made out of three parts flamingos and ten parts vermouth with amusing parasols stuffed in the tall tall glass, then I threw on that cd where some genius put modern beats to Gregorian chants, and with my ultramarine-dyed and topiaried poodle named Gregoire gazing raptly up at me I read up to page 100 an ...more
Sep 06, 2007 sayDIE rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
i remember the first time i read valley of the dolls. i picked it up, instantly hated it, and then read it nonstop for a series of days. i hated that neelie was such a bitch, and that anne could be so haughty. and that other chick.. yeah, you know the one. the porn one who went to spain or whatever. anyway. in the entire course of the book i found myself loving the girls, hating them, feeling mortified when they made a scene in public, and ultimately, hurting with them when they fell from their ...more
Apr 24, 2012 Kaion rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern, school
Or How To Write An American Classic

This is going to sound crazy, but hear me out: The Valley of the Dolls is totally like The Great Gatsby.

One is a culturally-important, best-selling, drug-fueled, homoerotic classic with several unfortunate movie adaptations; the other is well, a culturally-important, best-selling, drug-fueled, homoerotic classic with this gem in it:

"Give me back my hair, you little bitch," Helen yelled. "It cost me three hundred bucks!"... "Hey--what the hell are you doing?" H
May 29, 2014 Gregsamsa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The dude who checks books out to me at my library gave an arched eyebrow and a curled lip at me when I checked this masterpiece out. I promptly flipped the book over with a satisfying *whomp* and pointed out: "Uh, it's put out by Grove Press, ever heard of them?!"

Sheesh, the philistines I have to deal with daily! Just makes ya need somethin' to relax with: say, a handful of benzodiazepines, a mug of ice cream and The Captain, the latest issue of The Baffler, and some Esquivel on the Hi-Fi.

Ahh, t
Joe Valdez
Nov 21, 2015 Joe Valdez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-general
Some novels have baggage. Valley of the Dolls, Jacqueline Susann's 1966 bestseller, arrived like a Lear jet rolling into Aspen and unloading a cargo hold full of contraband. This rags to riches tale chronicling the show business rise and fall of three women features nightlife, penthouses, virgins, abortion, drug overdoses, a fight in the ladies' room and the search for love, all doled out in the most mundane language possible. Contrary to my expectations, I ate it up.

Unfolding over twenty years
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
Zzzzzzzzzz.....Valley of the Dulls is more like it.

One hundred pages was all I could stand of endless cheesy dialogue between a bunch of sleazy people with no personalities. Watch the movie instead. At least it's bad enough to be entertaining.
Aug 25, 2008 Mitch rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who like the bad movie adaptation
This book is BAD! Which is why I love it so much. Susann had no idea how to write a book.

Susann's shallowness and immaturity (you get the impression a 14-year-old wrote this) is rampant throughout the book. No one has real feelings. People get married as business contracts. All men cheat; women never do. Blonds are icy and cold. Brunettes are smart and nurturing, and only women with glossy blue-black hair are sexy and passionate (Susann's hair was black).

Her pacing in the book is just wacky. O
Oct 18, 2012 Elle! rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Light readers not looking for any value.
Recommended to Elle! by: Friend
A trashy treasure of a chick lit novel.

I'm so guilty..... For three things.

1. I liked how melodramatic this horrible written novel was.
2. I could feel my brain cells dwindling as I read it.
3. I stayed up for nights reading this book.

Errrr.........I'm very embarrassed but I'll give this a five, for enjoying it 100% percent , all the way to the sleazy cliche oversexed men to the dull cliche girls. I like it! Not for the literary stand -point of the novel because we all know there isn't any in thi
Jan 11, 2008 Megan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this in high school... goodness knows why. I didn't particularly enjoy it, though it does keep moving along and kind of holds you in town hoping that eventually things will go right for the characters or that they will have some insight into their lives and take a little responsibility or face up and change eventually... but it never happens. This has got to be one of the most depressing books I've ever read. Unfortunately I can't even really say it presents women in a bad light or unfair ...more
Jan 07, 2008 Robin rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: insomniacs, masochists, glamour pusses
Back cover proclaimed that it was brilliant. Was in fact rubbish. Lyon Burke is basically a cardboard cutout, yet apparently everyone's in love with him. What. The narrative is bad enough to be bad, but not bad enough to be funny. You spend pretty much the first half of the book wondering when something actually interesting is going to happen, and then when it does, you've lost any and all interest in the people that things are happening to. The only character I liked was Helen. On and on and on ...more
Susann knows how to sink her claws into the reader. Just when things seem to get better for our women and the future shines bright in the distance, something happens and the tunnel closes. Then some turn of events gets you believing again, and the roller coaster starts again and again and again... The circle of life turns into a circle of dolls and resentment.

Valley of the Dolls isn't a mushy romance that sinks into an abyss of paper-tasting plastic characters, who seem to melt under a tighter s
What an amazing book - I couldn't put it down. I had always envisaged this as old-school chick lit (and had avoided it until Virago released their delightful 30th Anniversary covers and I had to buy it for that) but it really isn't - it is a scathing attack on how women are used and abused by the entertainment media and spat right back out again while men are revered and protected. It is certainly bleak but the way the book is written with such clinical passion (yes I know - an oxymoron but apt) ...more
Well. I have conflicting opinions about this book. First, and most obviously, this was almost entirely meant to be a mental vacation after the insanity of planning and executing a wedding in 6 months. In that capacity, "The Valley of the Dolls" shone brilliantly. I was highly entertained by the book and the easy trashiness was somehow comforting, as it always is.

But I couldn't help actually reading the book whilst I was busy regaining balance in my chi or whatever. It's an irritating habit of m
May 16, 2009 Alina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Enter endless debauchery! I can see why people put up such a stink about Valley Of The Dolls when it was published. The book makes me happy to not have fame.

As an example of roman à clef, friends close to the author suspected that Susann wrote this book based her own experience, Ethel Merman, Judy Garland, Carol Landis, JFK, Monroe, Dean Martin etc. You couldn't make this stuff up if you tried. If you look up the real biographies, there are many parallels to the book.

Hollywood was and still see
Reading Valley of the Dolls is akin to eating a pint of your favorite ice cream, in that it's wonderful and delicious down to the last bit, but it can come with a bit of a hangover if you start to think about what you just did.

This is the story of Anne, Neely, and Jennifer, and their struggles to survive as women - women who want love, careers, a comfortable standard of living, etc., mostly in New York, but also in LA, and primarily in the stage and film businesses. It's gossipy, brutal, and fun
Oct 07, 2011 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
So, I finally got around to reading this one (I got it out of the library) and I must admit the book was slightly better than the movie (which I also borrowed from the library). However, when I found this poem based on the movie, I thought it pretty much summed up all my thoughts on both the book and the movie. Plus, I don't think I could of said it better myself:

“Things to Do in Valley of the Dolls (The Movie)” by David Trinidad

Move to New York.
Lose your virginity.
Become a star.
Send money to
Jun 13, 2007 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read this book at least three times. I must have read it at a very impressionable age (the first time), because it has burned itself in my memory. I love it; and every other time I've read it, it's been a guilty pleasure for me - just like reading US Weekly or InTouch magazine. Its a wondrous piece of thinly veiled fiction, chronicling the glamorous lives of three up-and-coming New York/Hollywood ladies. "Sparkle, Neely! Sparkle!" Jacqueline Susann is my heroine.

Goodness, this is a DEPRESSING book. Just... gah.

But it's great. I mean, the writing is sharp and easy to read, but not overly simplistic. It did bother me that there were so many slurs-- I spent half the thing cringing-- but I guess it's authentic for the time period and the way the characters would have spoken. I feel like this is more complex than a lot of novels, because it really does go into the inner lives of the three leads, and they really are all shades of grey-- with Jennifer probably
Oct 21, 2014 Nicole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I loved Valley of the Dolls. This book is in my top ten of saddest stories of all time. This book is sad and honest, which makes it even worse. This book deals with addiction, the pressures of being a woman and maintaining a certain look, pills to make you look that way, fame and the pressures that come with it and of course, sexuality.

The character of Neely O'Hara was my favorite in the beginning. A young, vibrant girl who had talent, came from nothing and wanted to make it big.
If I'm going to rate this book by quality of writing, I'd have to give it 2 stars. This book is full of the kind of pedestrian writing that you see in books like Trading Up, which I read for about 100 pages in high school before I get fed up with the writing and passed it on to someone with more plebeian tastes. Seriously guys, it's real bad.

However, the trashiness of the plot made this book so fun to read despite the bad writing and campiness, which means I'd rate it 4 stars based on pure enjoy
Aug 06, 2011 Lena rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I first became interested in this classic piece of scandalous literary trash after learning that its author, in her zeal to promote this book, was responsible for the creation of the modern book tour.

I wasn't entirely certain what to expect, but was surprised to find it was actually a pretty decent read. It tells the story of Anne Welles, a reserved New England woman whose primary act of independent thought in the post WWII years is to reject an assumed marriage and expected life in a small town
Kavita Ramesh
Apr 25, 2016 Kavita Ramesh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You have to remember, this novel was written in 1966, so what reads as clichéd today was an original back in the day. I am rating it by its 1966 standards (or what I imagine were 1966 standards!).

This book was unputdownable. It might not be the most masterfully written story ever, but it is a fast moving plot, which keeps you engaged.

And with the way Shia LaBeouf and other Hollywood types have been behaving, you know that her portrayal of Hollywood is probably not all that far off the mark. =P

I declare this book extremely 1000% Ridiculous & problematic.

Is this book readable? Yes if you can ignore all the shitty characters, the shitty plot, and the shitty ending. All the characters act like they’re 12 year olds on crack, they all whined and complained about everything, throwing tantrums when they don’t get what they want, the women think they can only be happy when they’re married and have a man supporting them or when they’re thin, young, and famous. The men only care for the wom
Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 09, 2015 Michael rated it really liked it
Shelves: modern-classic, 1960s
Pills! Pills will fix everything. Known as dolls, these red, yellow or green pills all serve a purpose. Although the more frequently you take them the more tolerance you build up, requiring more pills in a vicious cycle. Valley of the Dolls is a 1966 cult classic written by Jacqueline Susann, exploring the world of pop culture and Hollywood. This is a roman à clef that explores the life of three friends; Anne, Jennifer and Neely and their aspirations in life.

Jacqueline Susann is very blunt in th
Feb 29, 2008 Alison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Alison by: probably my Mom
Shelves: lady-lit
Those who know me will recognize the startling similarities between my life and one of the main characters - she's a small town girl who moves to NYC without knowing anyone here. She lands the first job she interviews for and even stays at the same women's hotel I stayed at when I first moved here. But then the book and my life take a drastic split when she becomes a famous hairspray model and pill popper and I work in advertising and only take prescription medicine prescribed by my doctor.
Jun 16, 2015 Katy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
As a wise woman once chanted: oooh, this my shit, this my shit. The story of three vibrant young women in 40s-60s NYC as they negotiate love, sex, work, friendship, and all-consuming barbiturate addiction. Cannot wait to read Susann's other books now. If I develop a sudden taste for Jackie Collins it can all be traced back to this dark masterpiece of salacious Plathian proto-chick-lit.
Knarik Avetisyan
Damn. This. is. a. Real. Piece. of. Shit.
Laura Grable
I will call this book mindless fun even though it ended up being pretty depressing. I'm torn between this book being ridiculously anti-feminist (full of women who define themselves by the love of a man and are so pretty they always get what they want) or this book being a cautionary tale about the dangers of showbiz, drugs and poor judgement. However, I'm pretty sure it's a realistic child of the time: the 1960's. I at least had hope for Anne since she seemed to always keep it together, but even ...more
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Jacqueline Susann was one of the most successful writers in the history of American publishing. Her first novel, Valley of the Dolls, published in 1966, is one of the best-selling books of all time. When The Love Machine was published in 1969, it too became an immediate #1 bestseller and held that position for five months. When Once is Not Enough was published in 1973, it also moved to the top of ...more
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