Review

Jacqueline Susann's Shadow of the Dolls

by Rae Lawrence



For those not in the know, the dolls of the title are not women,
nor are they Raggedy Anns. Instead, the dolls are pills,
prescription painkillers, uppers, downers, the whole deal. In her
divine, scandalous, multi best-selling VALLEY OF THE DOLLS,
Jacqueline Susann introduced the world to the dolls and the women
who took them --- actresses, models, ambitious young single girls
who were out to make a name for themselves in New York City. Now,
nearly 40 years later, Rae Lawrence (author of SATISFACTION) has
updated the trashy classic, using an unfinished manuscript of
Susann's as the starting point. The women are back, the drugs are
back, and the cat fights are better than ever!

JACQUELINE SUSANN'S SHADOW OF THE DOLLS opens by hearkening back to
the earlier book. Readers are asked to wonder whatever happened to
Anne Welles and Neely O'Hara, the two stars of the earlier book. Of
course, everyone knows what happened to Neely. Her face and
exploits are constant fixtures in the supermarket tabloids, much to
Neely's chagrin. Tarty and misguided Neely O'Hara believes she has
beaten her chemical dependencies and she is desperately trying to
become a Barbra-style diva. She wants respectability, a good life,
maybe even a politician to woo and sing for.

Of course, Neely can never really leave the dolls and the booze and
the boyfriends behind. She also has a little jealousy problem ---
okay a big jealousy problem. Neely hates anyone who is doing
better than she is. And the one person she (still) hates more than
anyone else is Anne Welles. Former cover girl Anne seems to have it
all --- gorgeous rich husband, cute daughter, Park Avenue well
turned out apartment. However, her good life is, rather
predictably, a facade. Lyon Burke, Anne's husband, secretly has
been playing the stock market with Anne's money; and he has
been not so secretly playing the field --- with every actress in
every movie he makes. JACQUELINE SUSANN'S SHADOW OF THE DOLLS
twists and turns, following the lives of Neely and Anne as they
cope with divorce and single-motherhood, addiction, affairs, and
last-chances at stardom.

Although the glamorous settings and problems may have changed since
the '60s, Neely remains a nasty, addled, megalomaniac, while Anne
is still a sweet, if a bit dim, everywoman. An everywoman who wears
minks, but the "good girl" of the story, nonetheless. The most
notable difference between the heady old days and the present ---
to Neely and her ilk at least --- is inside her medicine chest:
Valium and Xanax are the new treats, replacing the "dolls," the
bygone uppers and downers. And now, plastic surgery can help any
woman become a dream girl, a star, give anyone Anne Welles's
nose.

Lawrence can be hilarious, her dialogue is over-the-top in a
terribly Susann way, and her acid observations about tricoastal
(Manhattan, Los Angeles, the Hamptons) life are right on target. As
in the first book, Lawrence also manages to convey the emptiness
and loneliness at the center of many a "successful" woman's heart.
Curiously, the characters are only 10 years older in this book than
they were in the original, but if you can suspend your disbelief,
JACQUELINE SUSANN'S SHADOW OF THE DOLLS is a hoot and a half. And
with its naughty pink cover, this book will be the must-have on
beaches everywhere this summer.

Reviewed by Addelaide Hayes on January 22, 2011

Jacqueline Susann's Shadow of the Dolls
by Rae Lawrence

  • Publication Date: June 26, 2001
  • Genres: Fiction, Romance
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crown
  • ISBN-10: 0609605852
  • ISBN-13: 9780609605851