Monday, September 09, 2013

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Too Good To Be True

Ok, I know I've been ridiculously remiss in posting for the last while, but between holidays and a wedding and the superfun weekend that was Electric Picnic, I just haven't been able or inclined to get around to it. But here I am! And I'm making it up to you all with a Sweet Valley High post. Because yay! Also, at a slightly drunken work night out from a while ago, I promised some people that I would say hello to Karen, who is in either North Korea or Wellington, NZ (sure why not) and the ladies who play ultimate frisbee in Dublin. These are the details I found in the notes bit on my phone the next day anyway, so hopefully that still makes sense. Anyway, hi! And onwards we go!

Sweet Valley High #11: Too Good To Be True

House Wakefield is in disarray! Ned's old college roomate, Tom Devlin has suggested an exchange for spring break. His daughter Suzanne is going to fly out to Sweet Valley, while either Jessica or Elizabeth will go to New York in her place to visit the Devlins and stay in their swanky apartment. Needless to say, Jessica is declaring that she'll positively DIE if she can't go and is already imagining herself out at "some impossibly chic Manhattan disco" where she'll hook up with Mick Jagger (really) or be discovered by a modelling agency and become the next Cheryl Tiegs, because the references in this book are fucking gas. They end up flipping a coin for it and Elizabeth wins, so Jessica graciously congratulates her sister and tells her how happy she is for her, despite her disappointment. No wait, she bursts into tears and wails like a spoiled brat when Elizabeth tries to comfort her. Of course.

Later, Elizabeth even tells a still mournful Jessica that she can wear her new culottes while she's away (awesome!), but instead, Jessica manipulates Elizabeth's doubts about being away from Todd for two whole weeks (GOD she's so lame) and convinces her that Lila Fowler is going to get all up in his bizzniz while she's not there to stand guard over his crotch. Predictably, Elizabeth caves and then convinces herself that she never really wanted to go in the first place, and anyway "her sense of adventure and fun was far different from Jessica's". As in, Jessica, actually HAS fun every once in a while.

The Wakefields drop Jessica off at the airport and collect Suzanne when she arrives and half a page is spent detailing how hot she is.

"The most beautiful girl she'd ever seen"
"The girl had to be a professional model"
"Her features couldn't have been more perfect if they'd been sculpted by Michaelangelo"

Hyperbole, much? Also, she's got glossy black hair and enormous violet-blue eyes, so she's basically a sixteen year old Elizabeth Taylor. Suzanne and Elizabeth go for a swim when they get back to the house and Suzanne is so sexy looking in her bikini that "suddenly Elizabeth felt self-conscious about her own lovely size six figure". Oh boo fucking hoo Liz, are your diamond shoes too tight?

The next day, everyone goes along to a class picnic at the lake, chaperoned - of course - by Mr. Collins, who never seems to have anything better to do than hang around with a bunch of horny sixteen year olds. Get a hobby, dude. Naturally, everyone is in awe of Suzanne and Elizabeth notices that her buddy, plain ol' Enid is even attracting some stares of her own in her candy striped bikini.

"Though she wasn't stunning like Suzanne, with her shiny, shoulder length brown hair and enormous green eyes, she had a prettiness that was all her own."

Ouch! A prettiness that was all her own? Why don't you just slap her in the face and be done with it, Liz? Anyway, while Elizabeth is busy comparing Mr. Collins to Robert Redford, Suzanne gets into trouble while swimming. Mr. Collins springs into action, rescuing her and carrying her out of the water in his arms, dripping wet and ripped, like a goddamn hero. Elizabeth briefly wonders what the fuck is going on, as Suzanne was a super amazing swimmer in the pool back at the house, before engaging in some vom-inducingly cheesy canoodling with Todd. i.e. "I may need more mouth-to-mouth resuscitation." Bleh. Those guys suck.

Liz's stink-face here is a thing of beauty. That's some quality smell-the-fart acting.

Over in New York, Jessica has been left alone in the Devlins' swanky apartment, only for Suzanne's twenty year old fancy man Pete to pay a visit. He's super handsome and wearing a tight blue Lacoste shirt and says wanky things like "Chopin should come from the heart, don't you think?" So obviously Jessica is smitten and manages to wangle her way into a piano concert date with him that night.

However, her excitement wanes somewhat when Pete is half an hour late and doesn't even have the decency to fall to the ground and involuntarily come in his pants when he sees her in one of Suzanne's sexy black dresses and fancy make-up. In fact, the only comment he makes about how she looks is to point out that she's wearing Suzanne's dress. Jessica is most unimpressed, but still convinced that this rude douchebag is "the most exciting guy she'd ever met". They go for dinner and the concert bores the tits off Jessica, who is getting ever more frustrated that Pete won't make a move on her. He doesn't kiss her when he drops her off at the apartment, which leaves Jess utterly furious, as "she'd never been more humiliated in all her life" and could probably do with getting a bit of fucking perspective, to be honest.

Back in Sweet Valley, Elizabeth can't find her gold lavaliere and Suzanne tells her she'll help her find it. They're going to the beach for the day and Liz tries to get Steven to come with them, as he's been moping around the house over the problems he and his girlfriend Tricia are having. He declines and they tease each other for a bit, she calls him puny and he says "Who's calling who 'puny'? If you turned sideways and stuck your tongue out, you could probably pass for a zipper." Which is...what? She'd be all silver and shiny? Even more confusingly, she answers with "Don't I wish!" So...she WANTS to look like a zip? What is with all this zip nonsense, guys?

Anyway, as they're leaving to head to the beach, we get a little Suzanne POV, where she "reached into her shorts pocket with her other hand, fingering the gold necklace that lay coiled inside. A pretty little trinket, she thought with satisfaction."


You do NOT fuck with the Wakefield lavalieres. This bitch is going down.

Elizabeth wants to stop off at Mr. Collins' house on the way to drop off some stuff for the school paper, but Suzanne insists on delivering the envelope so she can thank him for saving her drowning ass at the lake. Mr. Collins is out the back of the house watering the plants with his great big garden hose "wearing only a pair of white jogging shorts and a red bandana to keep his longish strawberry-blond hair out of his eyes." Not to mention "his bare, muscular chest, which was deeply tanned and slick with perspiration." Goodness. Suzanne turns on the charm, but is getting nothing but gruff politeness from him, so she goes on about how hot it is and asks to drink from the hose, as if she's some kind of labrador. What follows is so hilariously over the top, it sounds like something from a Whitesnake video.

"Suzanne laughed merrily as the cool water bubbled over her lips and nose. She let it dribble down her chin until the front of her thin t-shirt was soaked, making it cling to her very brief bikini top."

If only there was a car bonnet nearby for her to writhe around on! Mr. Collins blushes at the sight of the underage girl in the wet t-shirt, so Suzanne chalks it up as a small victory in her quest to, I dunno, bone the teacher, I guess.

Meanwhile, Jessica is starting to feel homesick and isn't having as much fun as she'd hoped for. She feels uncomfortable around Mrs. Devlin, who has an icy bitch demeanour, thinks the maid will steal from the drinks cabinet unless she locks it and calls taxi drivers "dreadful little men", so it sounds like she's also kinda racist. Mr. Devlin is hardly ever home, what with all the embassy functions he has to attend, so really I don't understand why they offered to look after one of Ned's daughters in the first place when all they do is leave her alone in the apartment.

Jessica goes to a dinner party thrown by Suzanne's BFF Evelyn, but the place is full of arsey, unpleasant heirs and heiresses taking about diamonds and Maseratis. Jessica ends up drinking too much wine during dinner, trips on her way to the bathroom and passes out to the sound of the rich kids being assholes. I actually feel kinda bad for her here. The people at this party are dicks and drinking so much that you're knocking shit over and passing out isn't exactly a superfun place to be.

Over on the West Coast, Elizabeth is supposed to be babysitting Mr. Collins' son Teddy, but Todd got last minute tickets to a Lakers game and she really wants to go. Suzanne steps in and offers to babysit Teddy, says that she'll call Mr. Collins to let him know that she's filling in for Liz, but DOESN'T because she's ulterior motive-ing all up in here. Mr. Collins is a bit put out when she turns up, seeing as he's leaving his child with a relative stranger that he's already suspicious of, but she purrs at him and charms Teddy so he goes off to a social occasion that for once doesn't involve his students. As soon as he leaves though, Suzanne ignores Teddy and proceeds to root around Mr. Collins' underpants drawer for the hell of it and is disappointed not to find even so much as a Playboy in his bedroom. Which I don't buy for a single second. That dude has a porn stash somewhere, she obviously didn't look hard enough.

When he gets home, he finds Suzanne pretending to be asleep on the sofa, with her blouse strategically unbuttoned. She asks for wine and starts to press herself against him in an attempt to lob the gob, but Roger is having none of it. She storms out, furious, and stomps back to the Wakefields' house, formulating a plan. Which is to rip her blouse and tell everyone that Mr. Collins attacked her. Jesus fucking Christ. These kids.

Back in New York, Jessica is out on another date with Pete, flirting outrageously with him, but it doesn't appear to have any effect. But then he comes back to the apartment with her, pours them both some brandy, turns off the lights and suddenly, to Jessica's surprise, starts wearing the face off her.

She's delighted for all of ten seconds before she realises that "Pete had much more in mind than kissing" and is getting a bit too insistent. She tries to stop him but he pins her against the couch, gets all simultaeneously rapey and victim-blamey and tells her she's asking for it, as dudes in these books are wont to do. Jessica is freaking out and decides that it's all Elizabeth's fault for letting her take her place in New York and essentially giving her what she wanted. Because she's crazy. Again, same as All Night Long. She's nothing if not consistent. Anyway, some brandy glasses get smashed and it's all a bit horrible, but suddenly the lights are switched back on and ta-dah! The Devlins are actually home for once.

Meanwhile, Suzanne runs crying to Elizabeth, with her torn clothes and damn filthy lies and after two days, it's the biggest scandal to hit Sweet Valley since, I dunno, the last scandal that hit Sweet Valley. It's a ridiculous town, who can keep count? Elizabeth and Todd secretly doubt Suzanne's story, because Mr. Collins is so super and brilliant and looks like Robert Redford, in case you didn't know.

Anyway, it's Suzanne's last night in Sweet Valley and everyone is going to a big party at Lila's mansion for her birthday. While she's getting ready to go, Elizabeth puts a present into Suzanne's packed suitcase as a surprise for her, but DUN DUN DUUUN...she finds the holy grail lavaliere in amongst Suzanne's clothes.

While in the car with Todd on the way to the party, Elizabeth tells him where she found her necklace and they begin to wonder if maybe Suzanne made up the whole assault story. Elizabeth wonders why anyone would do such a "hideous thing" and when Todd reminds her of some of the shitty things Jessica has done in the past for sheer divilment, Elizabeth, in a spectacular feat of doublethink, replies:

"But that was just Jessica. She's never done anything really bad."

(I don't normally use gifs in these posts, but I feel like this warrants one.)


Anyway, she and Todd decide to make a detour to Mr. Collins' house, and find him "a pale shadow of the Roger Collins she knew." He looks like he hasn't slept in days and he's got STUBBLE on his jaw. And as we all know, in the world of Sweet Valley, beards = despair. She realises that Mr. Collins is innocent and decides that Suzanne isn't going to get away with what she's done. When they arrive at Lila's place, she gets Suzanne alone in the coatroom (what, your house doesn't have a coatroom? Fowler style, bitches!) and confronts her. Suzanne confesses to everything, but before Elizabeth can reveal the truth to anyone, Suzanne spreads a rumour via gossip queen Cara Walker that Elizabeth has been acting all strange, like the time she came out of her coma after the big motorbike accident. It's actually pretty impressively devious, how quickly and efficently she discredits Liz. That's some top-notch villainy, Suzanne.

Before long, everyone thinks that Elizabeth is going nuts, so when it gets back to her, she confronts Suzanne again, in public this time. While she's calling her a liar, Winston Egbert (who overheard the coatroom conversation) comes along to hand Suzanne a drink and accidentally on purpose trips over, spilling punch all over her white satin, off-the-shoulder dress. Ruh roh! Suzanne freaks the fuck out, showing everyone The Real Her, i.e. a rampaging bitch and everyone dramatically walks away from her, leaving her alone, crying. Wah.

Jessica returns home after the Devlins told Pete that they never wanted to see him again, Mr. Collins gets his job back and everything is fine and dandy. Hooray.

Notable outfit:
"She [Elizabeth] was wearing her favourite velvet skirt and a high-necked, lace Victorian blouse. Suzanne had helped her fix her hair into a fancy French braid, into which she'd tucked a fragrant sprig of honeysuckle."

Boom. Ingalls Wilder swag.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 150
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 3
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 1 (Poor show.)
Appearances of the word "muscular": 5


  1. Is it common practice for Daddies to do a teen daughter swap for the holidays?! Jesus Francine!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Oh Jaysus, when you put it like that it's a whole other layer of creepy weirdness!

  2. I'd forgotten how absolutely crazy these books were - you are too funny. Love it!

  3. Thank you for another absolutely wonderful review of these bonkers books. Why did I think they were good when I was 12??

    Also whenever you note about Elizabeth being paranoid about her figure, I remember the first of the Sweet Valley University books where she got fat! and she and Jessica were no longer interchangeable. It would have been quite hilarious if not so sad.

  4. Hi back at you. That has seriously made my day! Your SVH posts are one of the best things in the world and I got a mention in one :) keep up the good work. Karen

  5. Love it! I can't believe the rapey boyfriend showed up quite so many times in those old books...

  6. Yay! Thanks for the frisbee shout out :)


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