Valley of the Dolls was sexy, shocking, and unrelenting in its revelations of the dangers facing women who dare to chase their most glamorous dreams. It shot to the top of the bestseller lists in 1966 and made Jacqueline Susann a superstar. It remains the quintessential big, blockbuster, must-read, can't- put-down bestseller. Before her death in 1974, Susann spent many months working on a draft for a sequel that continued the stories of Anne Welles, Neely O'Hara, and Lyon Burke. Now, after thirty years, the perfect writer has been found to turn Susann's deliciously ambitious ideas into a novel that matches the original shock for shock and thrill for thrill. In Jacqueline Susann's Shadow of the Dolls, Rae Lawrence picks up the story in the late '80s and brings it right into the next century. Long a devoted "Valley" girl herself, Rae has re-imagined the original characters in a contemporary reality (and adjusted their ages just a bit), exactly as Jackie would have wanted her to. And if you've never read Valley of the Dolls, no matter. Sometimes the present is even more surprising and fun when you don't remember the past. And what a story! Neely's golden voice has brought her fame and success, but now she craves acceptance in social circles where her kind of success means nothing at all. Anne, born and bred in those very circles, must choos between returning home or pursuing a fabulous television career - and the kind of passion she once knew with Lyon. And Lyon, who loses everything including Anne, looks for happiness in the most unexpected of places. Taking us behind the closed doors of New York, East Hampton, and Los Angeles, whetting our appetites for more with a new generation of young women and men who grow up far too fast, and spicing the whole story with a generous sprinkling of sex, drugs, and cosmetic surgery, Jacqueline Susann's Shadow of the Dolls is the ultimate beach read for our time. But feel free to devour it any time of the year, wherever you are. It's been a long time since readers had this much fun between the covers. It's time to jump back in.
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Rae Lawrence is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel Satisfaction. She lives in New York City.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Whatever happened to Anne Welles? people used to ask.
It was a parlor game played at parties, after the dishes were cleared and the fresh bottle of vodka came out, after everyone had drunk too much but no one wanted to go home yet. Whatever happened to that sitcom star who got arrested for carrying the gun onto the airplane? Whatever happened to that rock-and-roll singer who married the swimsuit model? Whatever happened to that talk-show host, that child actress, that overweight comedian? And, Whatever happened to Anne Welles?
No one ever had to ask what happened to Neely O'Hara.
Everyone knew. She was still in the tabloids at least once a month.
The pictures were always the same: Neely caught off-guard, looking grim and puffy in her signature oversize dark blue sunglasses, wearing a thousand-dollar designer version of sweatshirt and track pants, her hair tucked up into a baseball cap, her hands covered with jewelry.
The headlines screamed from supermarket checkout stands: Neely O'Hara hires live-in psychic after third marriage fails! Neely and Liz make bizarre rehab pact! Neely O'Hara threatens suicide after record-company lawsuit! Neely O'Hara's Comeback Diet!
But whatever happened to Anne Welles?
Women recalled her Gillian Girl commercials almost word for word. They could recite the names of the products they had bought because of her. Candlelight Beige lipstick. Summersong perfume. Forever Roses nail polish.
What the men remembered was something else: a beautiful girl dancing across the television screen, her long dark hair streaming out behind her. Sometimes she wore an evening gown and swirled to an old Cole Porter tune. Sometimes she wore a little white bikini and kept the beat of a current disco hit. At the end of each commercial, she looked straight into the camera, looked straight into their eyes, and winked.
Where was she now?
She married some rich guy and moved to Europe, someone would say. Or: She went into rehab, my cousin's best friend is married to someone in Hollywood who saw the medical charts. Or: She invested in a chain of restaurants and lost almost all her money. No one really knew. To most of the country, it seemed that she had disappeared into thin air.
In New York, no one had to ask what happened to Anne Welles.
She still made the columns, she still went to parties, she still could be seen jogging around the Central Park Reservoir in the early mornings, her thick brown hair held back with red velvet ribbon. At thirty-four she was still beautiful, though the only photographs that appeared of her anymore were the grainy black-and-white pictures taken at charity events for the Sunday society pages.
She had married Lyon Burke and moved into a ten-room apartment on Fifth Avenue with a glorious view of the park. The Bellamy, Bellows and Burke Agency represented some of the highest-paid movie talent, so there was no need for her to work. Her only daughter, Jennifer, went to the most exclusive girls' school in the city. Anne filled her days the way so many other women did on the Upper East Side: exercising, shopping, getting facials and manicures, redecorating her apartment, entertaining her husband's business friends. Anne and Lyon were one of the most sought-after couples in the city, and every day's mail brought at least half a dozen invitations: to dinner parties, to museum galas, to weekends in the country, to charity events, to gallery and film openings.
Anne Welles Burke had gotten everything she dreamed of. She had married the man of her dreams, the first man she had fallen in love with. She had the child she always wanted, a sweet girl with Lyon's blue eyes and Anne's fine Yankee bone structure. She lived in the apartment she had always fantasized about, surrounded by the best furniture, the best carpets, the best paintings. She had come to New York with nothing, and now the city belonged to her.
New York! New York! In the early spring evenings, after Jenn had gone to her room to do her homework and before Lyon came home from the office, she took a glass of Chardonnay onto the balcony. She looked down into Central Park, full of pink and white blossoms. She looked west across Manhattan, where another spectacular sunset streaked the sky. She looked south at the skyline, still as breathtaking as when she had first arrived fifteen years before. And she said to herself: Mine, mine, mine.
Sometimes she poured a second glass of wine. Music wafted in from the open windows of a neighboring apartment, a strand of Joni Mitchell, or early Van Morrison, or an old Dionne Warwick hit she had forgotten the name of.
But she still remembered the words, and she still remembered the girl she had been when she sang them aloud to herself, dancing around her first New York apartment, a tiny studio in a West Fifties tenement building, with broken-down plumbing and linoleum floors. It came back to her now, how happy she had been in those days when she had nothing to speak of except a pretty face and a degree from a pretty college and all her pretty dreams. Everything was ahead of her then. She'd felt as though the whole city were whispering to her at night: If, if, if.
The second glass of wine never tasted as good as the first, but she always drank it faster. Mine: The perfect apartment filled with perfect things (who knew a throw pillow could cost three hundred dollars?), but no matter what the decorators bought it never felt finished or quite full enough.
Mine: The perfect husband, who had had so many affairs that she had stopped counting, stopped even caring. Lyon loved her as best he could; maybe it wasn't his fault that his love ran out a few yards short of fidelity. Mine: A perfect child, Jenn was everything to her, so why did she still feel half-empty inside?
And then she wondered: Whatever happened to Anne Welles?
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