My heart leapt with unexpected happiness at discovering Jacqueline Susann’s classic The Valley of the Dolls available to download as an audio drama on BBC iPlayer Radio.
I have an enormous affection for this book. It tells a story of women by women that isn't 'period' (Jane Eyre this is not). It is a book about female friendship, enmity, rivalry, success, failure, relationships. It straddles a period of about 20 years from the end of the Second World War and, in so doing, it is also a late Twentieth Century history of women, albeit certain kinds of women. It describes a period when women wanted to be independent, but still, largely, felt that independence would be gained through making a good marriage.
I have a huge affection for this book because, although our times have undoubtedly moved on, in many ways, deep down, it sometimes feels as if we haven’t that much. That people still think along similar lines to all the characters – male and female – of the book. They just don’t say so out loud.
I love the way it borrows unashamedly from real life. The principal women (Anne, Neely, Jennifer and Helen Lawson) are each several 'Golden Age' era stars rolled into one. I love that even though the women live for their men and would die for the man of their dreams, it is the men who get played. Every single time.