Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Sweet Valley High Revisited - Rags To Riches

WELL. Will we do another Sweet Valley High recap? Go on so. But first, here's a brilliant article by an ACTUAL FORMER SVH GHOSTWRITER. It's so good and it's fascinating how her own life at the time was pretty much the polar opposite to the sparkly, sunny world of the Wakefield twins. (Thanks to lovely Sinéad for reminding me of it recently!) Go read it. It's great. And it also suits this particular recap rather well, as this book was her first foray into the ridiculousness that is Sweet Valley High.

Now then. Let's GO!

Sweet Valley High #16: Rags To Riches


So, you guys, remember Roger Barret? He's super good at running, but also really poor and Lila Fowler was suddenly interested in him when everyone saw what a great athlete he was, until she found out that he had to secretly work as a janitor to pay the rent because his mother was on her own and also quite sick and he ended up going out with his hippy friend Olivia who had been there for him all this time? Yeah? Good. Well, his mother died at the end of the last book and it turned out that his father was actually Bruce Patman's deceased uncle. TWIST! Which means that Roger is now really rich and Bruce's cousin to boot. Hence the title of the book.

Since this revelation, Roger has moved into the fancy Patman mansion (Patmansion?) and his new family are throwing a welcome party in his honor in the Sweet Valley Country Club, so everyone at school is all excited. Everyone including the sun-streaked, sparkling and perfect size six Jessica Wakefield, who suddenly finds herself thinking that Roger looks pretty cute and it DEFINITELY doesn't have anything to do with his overnight millions. Definitely.

But back to Roger. He feels awkward living in the Patman's house and Bruce is being kind of a dick to him, which doesn't help matters. Nor does Mrs Patman, as she's a haughty bitch who looks at him disdainfully and does things like coolly lecturing him on how important it is that he makes a good impression while she rubs moisturiser onto her fancy face in front of her vanity mirror. She's pretty much a lady-villain from Dynasty.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Todd think there's something up with Regina Morrow. She's missed a few classes over the last while and Todd saw her waiting in the car park at school, looking all nervous and she ran off when he asked her if there was anything wrong. So naturally, they decide to spy on her and follow her the next time she leaves school early. The nosy-ass detectives see her meet a handsome older man downtown, who accompanies her into a tall, glamourous office building. It's a MYSTERY and also none of their goddamn business, but hey. They also run into Lila Fowler, who had a dentist appointment and seems to have spotted Regina too. Oh, and then Roger shows up with Mr Patman outside The Sports Shop, because Mr Patman is buying him a load of new running gear. That's genuinely what the shop is called. The Sports Shop.

Anyway, that weekend the Patmans are throwing a barbeque in order to get to know Roger's friends before the big country club hooha. At this stage Jessica is full on gunning for Roger, breaking out her brand new swimsuit from Foxy Mama especially for the occasion and getting her preppy on in tennis shorts and a polo shirt. Elizabeth gets worried, because:

"The last time she'd seen her twin dressed so conservatively was when she'd fallen madly in love with Bruce Patman and started buying clothes from The Boston Shop."

The Boston Shop. I'm sensing a trend here. Also, while chatting to Liz, Jessica mentions Regina and her older mystery man, so Lila has clearly been spreading rumours around about what she saw downtown.

That weekend, everyone in school descends on the Patman's place for the barbeque, which is being held beside their Olympic sized pool. Natch.

"Tables had been set up under the yellow-and-white umbrellas, where lunch would be served later on."

OH MY EFFING GOD IT'S SOUTHFORK. How long before a row breaks out and someone is shoved into the pool? Eeeee!

Jessica implements phase one of her plan to snag Roger and spends the whole time sucking up to Mrs Patman, complimenting her flowerbeds (not a euphemism), collecting empty glasses and making polite conversation with the boring adults. Mrs Patman takes the bait and makes a fuss over what a wonderful girl Jessica is and what a good couple she and Roger would make at the big upcoming party. Phase one complete. While this is going on, Olivia is all uncomfortable and fidgety because Roger is too busy playing host to hang out with her and Mrs Patman was mean to her earlier, so she feels self-conscious and sad. :(

Olivia foolishly admits to Jessica that she wishes she was more confident (no one should ever admit anything to Jessica) so of course Jessica decides to offer her advice that will ultimately get her out of the picture and off Roger's arm. This dastardly plan involves convincing Olivia to take a dessert as well as a burger when everyone is getting stuck into the fancy buffet and for some reason this embarrasses both Olivia and Roger when they sit down at a table with some other kids. I have no idea why though, I don't think I know anyone who would actually give a shit about something like that, let alone a table full of high school teenagers. WHO CARES. LET'S ALL JUST HAVE CHEESECAKE FOR DINNER.

Jessica then arranges a doubles game of tennis between her, Bruce, Roger and Olivia. Of course, with Bruce being captain of the tennis team and Jessica being a Wakefield and therefore spectacular at everything, it's the perfect opportunity to show Olivia up as not good enough to be a Patman girlfriend. Jessica arranges to meet Olivia at the mall so they can go shopping for tennis clothes at...you guessed it...The Tennis Shop. However, Olivia decides that the starched white shorts and polo shirts aren't very her, as she's more the wraparound skirt and leather sandals type. But nevermind, they stop off at The Designer Shop (OH COME ON) to look at dresses. While all this is going on, Elizabeth is getting suspicious of her sister's sudden good will towards a smelly hippy like Olivia.

"Was is possible Jessica had something in mind other than good-natured friendship?"

YES, ELIZABETH. OF COURSE SHE FUCKING DOES. Someone hasn't been paying attention for the last fifteen books.

Watch out Roger! Jessica Wakefield is coming to GET you, with her pointy boobs and lavaliere! And wearing two shirts won't save you!

Meanwhile, in Regina Morrow's subplot, Elizabeth, Todd and half of Sweet Valley High see the handsome older dude waiting in the school car park, next to his beige Ferrari (BEIGE = OPULENCE) and when Regina hops in with him before he drives off, everyone jumps to the conclusion that they're having a sexy affair. Or at least they do when Lila Fowler starts insinuating it, due to a random vendetta she seems to have against Regina for no reason other than the fact that she's also gorgeous and rich.

Jessica arrives at the Patman's mansion for the tennis game and proceeds to make a show of Olivia by being brilliant while poor Liv flails cluelessly around the court. Jessica has carefully crafted every situation so it looks like she's helping Olivia to fit in with the Patmans, while sabotaging her at every opportunity and dropping mean little lies into their conversations, like telling her she overheard Roger wishing that Olivia cared more about monocles and boats, or whatever it is that rich people are into.

Regina asks Elizabeth to call over to her house after school because she simply HAS to talk to someone. Scandal! Although, not really, as it turns out that Regina was scouted by a modelling agency and Beige Ferrari Man is Lane Townsend, who runs the agency. She's going to be on the cover of next month's Ingenue magazine and swears Elizabeth to secrecy. You see, she doesn't want anyone to know until the issue is out, because, I dunno, B-plots don't write themselves I guess.

Jessica's dastardly scheme is all going to plan, with Olivia getting more and more insecure about her appearance and clothes with every passing day. When she shows Jessica the dress that she's been making for the fancy country club party, Jess tells her it's too informal for such a big event, rattling Olivia even further and making her wonder how she ever thought Roger would stay with her. No Olivia! You're playing right into her hands! Punch her in the boob!

Back at the Patman manor, Mrs Patman broaches the subject of who Roger is bringing to the country club party and suggests that Olivia might be too awkward a date for such an important night. Roger can't win with his mean aunt, as she thinks his track running is antisocial and his ambitions to be a doctor are no good either, as medicine is so "messy". There's just no pleasing this bitch. And she's doing haughty all wrong, a stuck up wagon like her would only love to have a doctor in the family.

Meanwhile, it's Lila Fowler's turn to follow Regina downtown to see what she's up to with her alleged fancy man. She tails her all the way into the office building, which turns out to be the Lane Townsend Agency and hears someone talk about how amazing Regina is and how great the proofs from her photoshoot look. Lila is inexplicably enraged and makes an appointment to see Lane, because:

"There must be some way to convince Mr. Townsend not to print her picture. [...] He'll take one look at me, she assured herself, and he'll tear Regina's pictures up and start from scratch."

The whole thing is very strange, as this sudden mission to destroy Regina really came out of nowhere. Maybe this is just what happens when Lila gets bored.

Olivia tells Roger that she can't go to the country club party with him because she feels so uncomfortable around his new family. They end up shouting at each other and sort of breaking up because each thinks the other doesn't understand how they're feeling and GOD PEOPLE, STOP GIVING JESSICA WHAT SHE WANTS. SRSLY.

As soon as Jessica hears about the break-up, she scampers off to Roger and talks shit about Olivia, telling him that she had gotten jealous of how rich he was now and that she was going to break their date for the country club dance so Roger would have to turn up alone and everyone would laugh at him. Which quite obviously doesn't sound in the least like anything Olivia would ever say, but for some reason people just believe every word that comes out of Jessica's perpetually lying mouth. Anyway, Roger buys it and Jessica ends up tricking him into asking her to the dance and making him think it was his idea. Operation Golddigger complete.

But back to Lila and her sudden, one-sided rivalry with Regina Morrow. She meets Lane Townsend at his office, pretending to be there to find out more about the Ingenue magazine modelling competition. However, Lane tells her that the competition was cut short a few weeks beforehand when they found Regina. And then, oh god, and then, the wonderful parting shot:

"Lila, try not to be too disappointed about the modelling job. You're a pretty girl, but you don't really have the right facial structure I'm afraid. You wouldn't like how flat your face would look in photographs."

AHAHAHA! Oh LILA. You flat-faced bitch.


So the night of the big party arrives and while Roger is looking for cufflinks, he overhears his aunt on the phone, talking about how great it is that Roger is taking Jessica to the dance instead of Olivia and mentioning that she and Jessica had a dastardly scheming chat on the day of the barbeque about making such an outcome happen. Furious, Roger calls over to the Wakefields house and for some reason wants to talk to Liz as well.

"What's going on, Roger?" Elizabeth asked, her blue-green eyes warm with concern.

Oh fuck off Liz.

Roger seems like he has some crafty plan up his sleeve, but all he actually does is tell them that he has to convince Olivia to come with him to the dance and makes a point of mentioning how close she and Jessica have been, in such a way that lets her know that he's now wise to her game. When he should really be giving her a bollocking or at the very goddamn least push her into the pool. Come ON, she's awful! Instead, he and Liz rush over to Olivia's house (I have no idea why Liz is involved in this at all to be honest, other than her love of getting unnecessarily involved in other people's biznizz) while Jessica calls up Neil Freemount to bring her to the dance at the last minute, because consequences are for plebs.

Roger apologises to Olivia for allowing himself to be manipulated by Jessica and they patch things up while Liz sits in the corner like a spare tool. Olivia agrees to go to the dance with Roger and then Elizabeth assures her that the dress she made is actually lovely and that she should wear it to the party.

Everyone arrives at the country club, which is all decked out with lace tablecloths and glass water bowls with floating candles (ah remember floating candles! They were everywhere for a while there in the nineties. I think my mam got floating candles as a birthday present from me and my brother for about four years in a row).

Then at some point during the night there's a receiving line for Roger and Olivia, which is pretty fucking bizarre, even for Sweet Valley. A receiving line! He's not the president guys, everyone calm down. The Patmans' mean and snobby friends, Mr and Mrs Ferguson arrive to be formally introduced to Roger and Olivia and when Mrs Ferguson asks why Roger isn't with "that pretty blond girl", like a cunt, the line goes quiet and Roger politely explains that Olivia is his girlfriend and there was just a misunderstanding earlier.

Mrs Patman gets sand in her vagina about the whole exchange and angrily pulls Roger aside, berating him for his "inexcusable" behavior towards whatsherface. But then Mr Patman swoops in, telling his wife to cop on to herself and that Mrs Ferguson was the one who was rude. He actually seems like a really nice guy, so I have no idea why he's married to such a weapon. So yeah, the whole SVH crew is happy at the end, except Lila because everyone is making such a big deal out of Regina's Ingenue cover, which came out that day. Sooo...yeah. The end!

Notable outfit:
There's lots of Olivia outfits in this one, to remind us of her carefree, bohemian style. But I went with this one:

"Olivia, who was wearing oversized army pants, sandals and a bright yellow t-shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Her usual bandana was twisted into a thin band around her forehead, holding her froth of brown curls out of her eyes."

It's actually not bad, although it could definitely do without the Rambo bandana and sandals. Put your damn toes away for once in your life, Olivia.

Things I counted:
Number of pages: 151
References to the twins' blue-green eyes: 6
References to the fact that the twins are blonde: 12 (TWELVE! Fucking JACKPOT!)
Amount of times Jessica admires her own legs: 2
Amount of hair tosses: 3

7 comments :

  1. Brilliant, just brilliant. Mrs Patman gets sand in her vagina. I am SO stealing that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well I stole it from South Park, so it's only fair! Thanks K. :)

      Delete
  2. I loved that interview at the start with the Ghostwriter, brilliant! Also great to know that the fucking writers didn't even know what a lavalier was... I wrote to a great aunt in San Francisco when I was about 14 to ask her what a lavalier, a pocketbook, and barettes were!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Brilliant, "punch her in the boob!", I spluttered tea all over my keyboard, epic

    Yvonne

    ReplyDelete
  4. "And wearing two shirts won't save you!"
    ahahahahahahaha
    Love you, Kitty Catastrophe!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Omg I laughed I cried.
    I loved this book.
    Thank you for that link to the ghost writers article. Killed my childhood in a way reading the real author behind these books...like what Elizabeth and Jessica weren't real people? Lol

    ReplyDelete

Hey hot stuff! If you leave a comment I'll give you a present.

Maybe.

 
>