bonus feature: SVH for grown ups

I wanted to put together a list of some SVH-esque “grown up” books. So if you love the ludicrosity of SVH, you can try these out.

Valley of the Dolls

You mom probably read this one. It’s so ridiculous. Three ladies in the sixties go to the big city to discover their dreams, but they all end up addicted to pills. I don’t even know what kind of pills. THe cheesy dialogue, stereotyped gender roles, the cheesy lovey dovey talk, the insipid plot twists- it’s all there.

Flowers In the Attic

My father bought me this when I was about ten years old to read in our car trip to Florida. I was kind of horrified that my father liked this book, and wanted me to read something about incest. It’s pretty much about 30 SVH plot points combined, in a book that is actually good (the rest of the series deteriorated into total trash, but good trash).


Let me note that this is probably one of the best books I have read in my life. This might have been my autobiography if I attened a boarding school. The actual book is not like a SVH book, but it is about a “normal” character thrust into a Sweet Valley-esque world.

Less Than Zero

Bret Easton Ellis is not everyone’s cup of tea, but he paints such a bleak view of listless, rich kids in California.

The Other Boleyn Girl

Oh my god, this was horrendous, but I could not put it down. It is essentially SVH transplanted into Tudor England. The backstabbing, the deceit, the shallowness, etc. Essentially, Anne Boyelyn is Jessica and Mary Boleyn is Elizabeth.

Any others?

12 thoughts on “bonus feature: SVH for grown ups

  1. MaggieCat says:

    Ah, V.C. Andrews- the books I migrated to once I realized just how ludicrous the SVH series was. In retrospect: rather a lateral move, that.

    I actually read Garden of Shadows, the prequel to Flowers in the Attic, before I ever heard of the latter. (I found my mother’s old copy, forcing her to admit that she’d started reading the Dollanganger series while she was pregnant. I’ve always suspected this is partially responsible for my love of trashy books since I’d be protesting a television show that tried any of these stunts.) What’s interesting about reading them in chronological order rather than in order of publication is that you end up with a completely different view of everything than if you read Flowers first: you can’t help but feel a little bad for the grandmother Olivia, and the horror about Corinne and Christopher getting married makes waaaaaay more sense. Not that marrying your half uncle/half niece isn’t squicky enough to begin with.

    One that definitely belongs on this list is Queen of the Summer Stars by Persia Woolley. Or as I like to think of it: Sweet Valley of the Round Table. You hear about Guinevere’s apricot hair almost as often as the Wakefields’ size-6 figures. Pure unadulterated cheese that I am for some reason compelled to reread whenever I find it after an uncharacteristic burst of housekeeping. Maybe it’s because of the historical accuracy to the time period. (Yeah, I didn’t even believe that while I was typing it.)

  2. Heidi says:

    I love The Valley of the Dolls. It’s supposedly based on Judy Garland [Neely] and Marilyn Monroe [Jennifer]. Can’t remember who Anne was supposed to be. It’s so corny I can’t ever put it down. I guess there’s a really terrible sequel to it, taking place in the ’80s but Anne and her baby hadn’t aged. It’s not even written by the same author.

    I first read Flowers in the Attic when I was 10/11, but didn’t understand most of it. When I read it again a few years later (after I learned what incest was) I was like, holy crap! Who let this book get published?

    ~On a side note, my uber-catholic town librarian totally looks down her nose at VC Andrews because she can’t get past the horrors of family-lovin’.

  3. MaggieCat says:

    Since I got distracted from VotD once I saw Flowers, given the time period, I’m guessing the ‘dolls’ in question were your basic Seconal/Nembutal (hypnotic sedatives) Benzedrine/Dexedrine (amphetamines) grab bag. Better living through chemistry.

    I also think that’s the only book the librarians ever (gently) tried to talk me out of borrowing from the library. Hee.

  4. Susan says:

    I floved Less Than Zero. It was more prose than story. And even though the movie was nothing like the novel, I loved that too.

  5. Jessa Fields says:

    Two more– Tom Wolfe’s “I am Elizabeth Wakefield…er, Charlotte Simmons”. Rivals the SVU series in sheer social awkwardness, although at least Charlotte didn’t comment the social sin of becoming a size eight (the horror!) like that lardball Wakefield.

    And, of course, “Election”, by SVH-wannabe writer Tom Perotta. It actually has a whole chapter about SVH in it too!

  6. Beth says:

    um, yeah..I have the ENTIRE Dollanganger (Foxworth) series, and I still read them over and over! I read “Flowers” when I was about 10, the movie had just come to video (I STILL cannot stand the music-“ahh ahh ah ahhhahh”). I am 28 now and just bought “Web of Dreams” to complete my Casteel collection. I know I am a dork, but for some sick reason, I can’t stop reading about the deranged (albeit fictitious) lives of the incredibly beautiful and rich! I also “boast” the entire “Dawn” series and “My Sweet Audrina”………….sickness……….;)

  7. Lauren says:

    I read Prep this summer and loved it, although the 15-year-old girls in my cabin (as I was a camp counselor at the time) had also read it and told me it was disgusting because of the blowjob scene. I LOVE that they were grossed out by it!

    I’m always embarrassed to check out VC Andrews books from the library. I have this awful paranoid fear that they’re making a list of all the trashy books I check out. I like to pretend that the Baby-Sitters Club and Sweet Valley books I check out are for my imaginary much-younger sister.

  8. Winnie Egbert says:

    I would recommend Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chboski to anyone. I wished I’d known about it in high school because it is the most accurate portrayal of that time that I’ve ever read.

    Just finished Twelve by Nick Macdonnell – it’s an updated version of Less Than Zero and I think it’s actually better. At any rate, I wasn’t totally depressed and suicidal at the end the way I was with every Ellis book ever.

  9. Dwanollah says:

    Don’t forget the Earth’s Children series! If Elizabeth and Jessica were one perfect, magical Mary-Sue person and lived in Paleolithic Europe, they’d be Ayla! Plus there are the SVH flat supporting characters, a supposedly-hottt boyfriend who’s really a total chump, and all sorts of banal attempts to discuss the wrongness of racism and sexism.

    VC Andrews — at least before she died and became a really bad ghostwriter — is the bomb-diggity of bad fiction.

  10. Sarah says:

    I went through a cheesy murder mystery phrase, so I loved R.L Stine (Fear street series) and anything by Christopher pike.

    Summer Sisters by Judy Blume is also a good “grown up” book!!

  11. Luriko-Ysabeth says:

    Utterly, completely, and wildly belated, but I think I love you for pointing out that The Other Boleyn Girl is essentially Sweet Valley Tudors. No wonder I was stuck with Trainwreck Syndrome…

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