Insatiable Appetites: Twentieth-Century American Women's Bestsellers

By Madonne M. Miner | Go to book overview

4
Valley of the Dolls: "Wow! What an Orgy!"

Damn, damn. . . . Damn Anne's mother! Damn all mothers! Even in death they reached out and loused you up.

-- Jacqueline Susann, Valley of the Dolls

Matrophobia can be seen as a womanly splitting of the self, in the desire to become purged once and for all of our mothers' bondage, to become individuated and free. The mother stands for the victim in ourselves, the martyr. Our personalities seem dangerously to blur and overlap with our mothers'; and, in a desperate attempt to know where mother ends and daughter begins, we perform radical surgery.

-- Adrienne Rich Of Woman Born

One of the most appealing aspects of Peyton Place is Metalious's depiction of her heroine's struggle to come to terms with herself and her surroundings. Unappreciated by the general populace of Peyton Place, the gifted Allison MacKenzie troops off to New York City, writes a bestseller, and shows them all--just like the author of her story, whose best-selling novel proved a lesson to the populace of her own native town, Manchester, New Hampshire. Ten years later, in another woman's bestseller destined to break records and shock the reading public, we encounter a heroine, Anne Welles, whose initial situation runs a close parallel to that of Allison MacKenzie. Like Allison, Anne grows up in an exclusively female home in a small New England town. Feeling unappreciated and at odds with her mother and with the townsfolk, Anne, like Allison, escapes: first, imaginatively, into works of literature and then, actually, to "the big city," New York. 1 Here, how-

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Insatiable Appetites: Twentieth-Century American Women's Bestsellers
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Women's Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction: "Guaranteed to Please the Female Reader" 3
  • Notes 11
  • 1 - Gone with the Wind: And the Cupboard Was Bare"" 14
  • Notes 32
  • 2 - Forever Amber: Swollen Up like a Stuffed Toad"" 35
  • Notes 55
  • 3 - Peyton Place: The Uses--And Abuses--Of Enchantment"" 58
  • Notes 74
  • 4 - Valley of the Dolls: Wow! What an Orgy!"" 78
  • Notes 98
  • 5 - Scruples: It's as Addictive as Chocolate"" 101
  • Notes 123
  • Conclusion 126
  • Notes 141
  • Bibliography 143
  • Index 153
  • About the Author 159
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