Valley of the Dolls is a Roman a clef novel based on real life events but within a fictional context, which I believe caused quite a scandal when it was first published - lifting the lid on fame and it's associated struggles. This is particularly resonant in a time when every facet of fame is very much played out in the public eye. Witness the downward spiral of musical prodigy Amy Winehouse for a fine contemporary example.
The copy I read was a new edition by Virago Press with a beautiful cover by Biba founder Barbara Hulanicki, which raises the cover art above the realm of your average book and is complemented by a foreword from the delightfully scathing Julie Burchill. I took this away with me on a WAG style mini-break to a lovely hotel where we were upgraded to a very civilised suite with a huge art-deco style bathroom. It rained, and I read. I have to admit I loved Valley of the Dolls, it's a real page turner.
Tan Lines is an extension of Dolls, even having three key protagonists - the author J.J Salem has been hailed as the new Jackie Collins. The novel describes a world of 'Three women. With everything they could ever need. But nothing they really want.' Sound at all familiar? Still, it's a great read, fast paced and sharply observed. This is Salem's first novel and I hope he's not a one hit wonder, as I think he has a great future writing in this genre and I very much look forward to his next project. Who will he poach a plot from next?