In an era when merchandising is everything, any book worth its advance comes with its own branded mug, T-shirt or handy cotton bag. Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls, however, has always been that little bit more marvellous. A 50th anniversary edition of the 30m-selling novel is released later this month with a black cover, pink pages and its own matching notebook and mug – but this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Elsewhere in the Valley of the Dubious Tie-Ins, readers who want to grow up just like Anne, Jennifer and Neely can buy a Valley of the Dolls T-shirt from Asos, a pink clutch bag and teeny tiny earrings from Etsy. In the US, Mac cosmetics released an eyeshadow called Sparkle, Neely, Sparkle: “the perfect brown with a hint of shimmer”, according to one reviewer. A report in the New York Times claims that Susann’s step-grandson Whitney Robinson has been in touch with NARS cosmetics, Christian Louboutin, Pantone and the Beverly Hills Hotel, among others. The paper also talked to the designer Jonathan Adler, whose $28 Dolls pillbox has been selling like hot barbiturates for a decade. “Canonical gay things tend to have tragic heroines, check; outré hair, check; glamour, check”, he confirmed.
Other literary heroines have their own must-have merch. If only Jane Austen had lived long enough to see the Mr Darcy Christmas tree decoration, or Shakespeare the Lady Macbeth guest soap. The ultimate tie-in, though, must be a scented “Library Candle” made to smell like an author. Oscar Wilde’s has notes of cedarwood, thyme and basil, Mark Twain’s tobacco flower and vanilla, and Edgar Allan Poe’s is cardamom, absinthe and sandalwood. Fortunately the manufacturers are too discreet to make candles that smell like living authors.