22 Nov
As the festive season approaches, I can’t stop thinking about all the hysteria that might ensue:

Evil twins, pool pushes, Fowler parties, broken engagements, and Jessica Wakefield getting trapped in a burning house…..[fingers crossed]
Christmas is indeed a magical time, especially in Sweet Valley where you celebrate an average of six every year, much like the Halloween epidemic in Stoneybrook.
So to celebrate, I’m donning my Ken-Matthews-inspired elf suit, and in the six or so weeks leading up to December 25, I will be recapping the best Sweet Valley Christmases [and maybe even a BSC Christmas or two.]
Wreck the Halls With Bloody Bodies, Peeps!

Christmas Edition #1

Sweet Valley University #8 “Home For Christmas.”

I’m not the biggest fan of SVU: The virginity saga, the dead boyfriend syndrome, the attempts at Enid, nay, Alexandra, having a personality…However, Winston getting babes and the inevitable hook-up of Bruce and Lila made several of these abominations bearable. And so to kick off Christmas Season, I will make a rare exception and recap “Home For Christmas.”

I have several concerns with the cover:
1] Who the fuck are these people?
2] The blonde twins, presumably the Wakefields, look like hamsters. Hamsters with extraordinary bangs.
3] Elizabeth has clearly been on the Robin Wilson miracle diet, because all this weight she’s supposed to have gained in the first few months of college has seemingly disappeared. Which is a real shame. God how I rejoiced when she was struggling into that pink spaghetti strap number.
4] Steven is dating someone his own age. He is, however, rather attractive, and possibly my favorite character in this series. Someone please kill me.
But the lavalieres! Bless! This makes me feel all nostalgic. I do hope they go back to the Dairi Burger for Christmas Eve.
So what has college brought to our trusty Sweet Valley comrades?
Steven Wakefield is suffocating in the kitchen of Mike McAllery’s apartment. Mike McAllery, you ask? That would be Jessica’s ex-husband – aka Fran-Pasc’s excuse for a Wakefield having “teh sex” – who  is now a wheelchair-bound paraplegic after Steven shot him. Because this is Sweet Valley, Steven got off almost scot-free, and has been sentenced to the job of Mike’s full-time carer. And I thought Sweet Valley High was whacked out.
But that’s all academic now, because Steven is about to die. He does have a cute moment where his “life was passing before his eyes” and he remembers the newborn twinkies being brought home from hospital in a white wicker basket. Naww, Steve. Then he flashes to, “carrying Billie across the threshold of their apartment, when they’d first decided to live together.” Um, Steven? Pretty sure your living situation was an accident, and you thought “Billie” was a guy. Trust me, I’ve read the Margo-miniseries at least a dozen times.
Back on campus, Elizabeth and her new man, Tom Watts, are making out in the library. From what I can gather, Tom is basically a slightly more literate version of Todd, perhaps without the effective right hook. This is pretty much all that happens:
“Ok,” he murmured, brushing her hair back over her shoulder. “Let’s study human biology.” [oldest trick in the book, Tom.]
Tom winced. “Whoa. Cold.” He renewed his attack, stroking one finger down her arm. [If they were next to me in the library, I would probably punch them.]
Elizabeth swallowed, feeling shaky. It was scary, what his touch could do to her, what it made her want to do to him. Quickly she shook her head and took a deep breath, then looked at the open textbook in front of her…Every few minutes they had to stop for a moment to kiss, as though if they didn’t, they would die.
They are, however, interrupted by Liz receiving an invitation to her high school reunion, because it’s been, what, 3 whole months?
But enough of them. And over to Lila [YAY!], who is having nightmares about her dead husband, Count Tisiano. I love how “Laurie John” had Jessica and Lila married by book 3 so it would be “acceptable” for them to lose their V-plates. Then, he was painted into a corner and had to paralyse/kill off their respective husbands. At least Lila and Bruce are having sexual tension, though – something about who has the bigger private jet. God how I love them.
Jessica is all woe. The Theta sorority think she’s a slut [didn’t she get enough of that in senior year?] and she can’t show her face at the SVH reunion because of the “bad soap opera” that her life has become. Thank you for having some insight, Jessica. Never thought I’d see the day. However, she impresses the sisterhood with her knowledge of Freud and Jung. So at least Jessica evolves in this series, unlike that whiny twin of hers, who only seems to regress.
Enid, who I refuse to call Alexandra, is back on the drink again. Do I have to go there? Do I have to? I hate Enid. Turns out she had been drowning her sorrows with Trusty Ex-Boyfriend Todd, who is pining for…I’ll give you three guesses….Elizabeth! Yawn. Also, Todd is thinking about doing the “wild thing” with ENID. Gross.
My, how our gang have changed!
Back at McAllery’s, Mike has slithered, yes, slithered, to rescue Steven from the fumes. Turns out someone left the stove on! That’s what happens when you spend your entire freshman year going back to mum and dad’s, Steven.
Anyway, Mike makes a recovery that is miraculous, even by Sweet Valley standards: As told by Steven, on the family road trip back to the home of Nalice:
“The night when he saved my life, he realized that he was getting feeling back in his legs. He saw his doctor the next day, and they think his nerves are regenerating. Apparently it happens in a small percentage of these spinal-injury cases. “
Apparently, Mike’s miracle is driven by his desire to get back in Jessica’s pants ahem, remarry her. We also learn that Jessica has moved on to a college boy called James, who we know is sophisticated because he plays classical music while driving his red Mazda Miata. Please note the quickie marriage/annulment/shooting/sentence/paralysis must be kept a secret from Mr and Mrs Wakefield. Good luck with that, Jessie.
As Christmas and the reunion approach, the high school gang are getting nostalgic about the good old days. Because their high school Christmases were so enviable, as we will learn in coming weeks. On a whim, Todd sneaks up to Miller’s Point to perve on high-schoolers think about all the things he never got to do with Liz. And who is there to meet him?
Someone giggled in the dark. A girl.
“Who’s that?” A male voice called out.
Todd strained to see through the dark He saw two figures untangling themselves from a close embrace.
Winston Egbert walked into the light of the nearby streetlamp. Even in the half dark, Todd could see his friend blushing.
“Who’s that with you Winston? Oh, hi, Denise.”
“Hi Todd,” Denise Waters replied, stepping up beside Winston. Her hair was disheveled and had bits of leaves in it. Her face was flushed and happy [I’ll bet], and she was zipping up her jacket.
“Hope I didn’t interrupt anything,” Todd said. [Duh, Toddster].
There’s life in the old dog still!
The following day Todd and ENID [that’s right, Enid] have an awkward encounter with Liz and Tom at the mall. Because everyone still wants Elizabeth Wakefield. Lila and Jess are being their usual kick-ass selves and doing last minute shopping. They run into Bruce, who gives Lila a challenge: To prove her pilot skills by flying him back to SVU for New Year’s Eve. They are Chuck and Blair! I knew it!
The Wakefield Christmas Eve consists of Liz and Steven sneaking into the rooms of their respective partners, and Jessica counseling the last Wakefield virgin on the ways of the world. Like birth control, for instance. No doppelgangers, though. Hmmm.
On Christmas day, just after Liz has given Tom a gift of leather gloves, [for what, exactly?] Mike McAllery, the miracle man, appears at the door, walking with only the slightest limp. I honestly cannot believe the shit that went down in this book, it is worse than the werewolf saga. Mike pretends to be a friend of Steven’s, keeping the marriage and shooting blip-on-the-horizon a secret. He pretends that his remaining limp is from a motorbike accident, which Nalice seem relatively unconcerned about given that a similar accident killed their nephew Rexy and put Elizabeth in a coma for weeks. Dear God. Oh and he has a diamond ring and another proposal for Jess, because their marriage obviously worked so well the first time around.
This is all too much for St Liz, who leaves the house to clear her head. During her trip down memory lane she runs into…The Toddster! Oooh! But instead of a pash for old times sake, she meddles in his life and tells him to get his GPA up. I hate Liz.
Jessica, she of the big mouth, finally spills all to her parents. And for the first time in Sweet Valley history, Ned behaves like a proper father:
“Why did I ever bother as a father?” Mr Wakefield said, anger creeping into his voice. “When I think of all we tried to do for you, all the values I’d hoped we’d instilled. Well let me tell you, my dreams of that are shot.”
“Dad, believe me, she’s paid enough,” Elizabeth said.
“You keep out of it, unless you have some mind-shattering secret you want to share with us too,” her father snapped. Go Ned! [does happy dance.]
The next morning, however, all is forgiven. Steven, the dag, calls for a corny family hug. And now, finally, we get to the big SVH reunion!!! Yippee!
Now if the rest of the book wasn’t insane enough, this surely is: Greeting Elizabeth at the door of Sweet Valley Gym is none other than Olivia Davidson. Olivia fucking Davidson, everyone’s fave hippie who, just over a year prior, got squashed to death by a fridge in the birthday-earthquake saga. Apparently she has been at University in San Francisco. This should really be a thriller edition.
The Ghost of Olivia Davidson: What happens to people who use records as hair ties, or something like that.
Jessica takes James-the-sophisticate as her date. Lila and Bruce flirt with each other. Penny Ayala is, well, Penny Ayala-ish. And Todd and Liz dance, which for some odd reason makes me happy.
But just when I was determined to never read a SVU book Ever. Again….
Two Weeks Later,  Lila is standing on the tarmac, rueing her broken down private jet. Then out of nowhere, Bruce appears.
“What say we take a little spin, Fowler?” He jerked his head to where a small bright red Cessna was waiting by the open hangar door. “It a beautiful night,” he coaxed. “I’ll even let you touch my…throttle.”
Lila grimaced. “Ill throttle you alright,” she said sweetly and he laughed.
“No seriously  – let’s both ditch this lame town and hit the skies.”
I hope you enjoyed installment #1 of What Winston Saw’s Christmas Edition. Stay tuned!


  1. zoe November 22, 2010 at 11:19 am #

    Olivia! Classic! In francine’s defence, this was written about five years before the earthquake miniseries.
    Merry Christmas, Winnie.

  2. Daniella November 23, 2010 at 12:10 am #

    Oh, how I love this! On top of all the other ridiculosity of this book and SVU to this point, I always wondered why Lila and Bruce were FLYING back to college, which, according to various points in the series, is anywhere from a half hour to two hours away by car. Where do they LAND? But then, Awesome Lila just may have her own private tarmac at SVU for her own private plane.

    And the nerve thing. For real. Mike just kinda stopped being paralyzed? You’d think medical journals would be interested in that one!

    • winstonegbert December 21, 2010 at 7:32 am #

      In SVH #17, the uni is a 5 minute commute from Calico Drive, and Anita Pearce, who lives nextdoor to the Wakefields, drives it every day. Bugged the hell out of me.

  3. Fran November 24, 2010 at 1:49 am #

    Aw, so glad you’re doing this! I always loved the Christmas-themed Sweet Valley books. I wierdly liked SVU for some reason, at least up to book 25 or so. Yeah, the Olivia thing is the biggest fail in Sweet Valley history.

  4. snarkvalley December 9, 2010 at 2:00 am #

    Ha ha ha! Wow, this book is awesome. I want to hear more about Lila and Bruce hooking up! … and Olivia coming back from the dead!

    I always loved the SV Christmas books. My favorite was The Christmas Ghost!

  5. Yellow Daisy December 20, 2010 at 1:33 pm #

    Is this the one where Tom beats the tar outta Todd at the dance? I remember Liz goes to help Todd, and ends up walking away and telling Enid, “He’s your problem now.” Why do I remember this crap?
    Good recap. I’m now a fan, and I will be stalking this site. 🙂
    I stopped reading this series around book #15. Did Liz ever give it up to Tom? I thought Tom was the coolest boyfriend ever when I was about 13.

    • winstonegbert December 20, 2010 at 5:22 pm #

      Ah, the age-old question about Elizabeth’s v-plates. Although she spends a lot of time considering “teh sex” with the likes of Tom, and later Finn, and Sam Burgess, it isn’t until she is employed as a scullery maid in London that she eventually gives it up. To a Duke. Who is engaged. [Ugh, I hate Elizabeth.]
      Nevertheless, we have basically an entire series dedicated to Elizabeth thinking about birth control, and um-ing and ah-ing and “shivering”.
      And yeah, Todd cops a Tom-punch.

  6. Salema April 11, 2011 at 11:25 pm #

    Oh wow! I love this! Now I feel like reading all the Bruce and Lila parts! ❤
    I was and still am completely, irrevocably in love with Mike McAllery!! I have all the books he was ever in! He was so awesome!!!!!!!!!! <3<3<3

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