Tag Archives: saint elizabeth of sweet valley

The One Where The Twins Almost Get Offed by a Werewolf: “Love and Death in London”

20 Oct

As you may have guessed from my lengthy absence, Francine never answered the call to Bring Margo Back From the Dead. My heart is pretty much broken. After all, previous tales had filled me with great confidence in Francine’s ability to resuscitate Margo.

So because I am the vengeful type, I am going to go to town on one of the most redonkulous books in Sweet Valley history:

“Love and Death in London”

Shame on you, Francine. I’m going to snark this like a polaroid picture.

Let’s begin with the cover, which is probably the high point of the book.

I’m going to take a stab and suggest that the 35-year-old high class call girls in trench coats outside the Big Ben are Wakefield twins [no doubt on some top-secret assignment entrusted only to them by the Scotland Yard].

And judging by the god-awful bangs and over-zealous rouge on the twin motif, I’d reckon this book was printed circa-1993. Please note that Elizabeth looks one inch taller and one pound skinnier than Jessica. Bitch.

And as for the half naked werewolf scaring off the random brunette and her gay bestie….lets just leave that one, for now.

Elizabeth and Jessica have ditched their regular summer jobs at the Sweet Valley News for the greener pastures of London.

Elizabeth is her usual annoying self and waxes poetic about famous architects and the Great Fire of 1666 and St Paul’s Cathedral.

They move into a student boarding house where there are like, kids from all over the world! Wow! Conveniently, Elizabeth’s old French toyboy, Rene Glize is ALSO at the exact same boarding house at the EXACT same time! Maybe they will sneak out and drink tequila and have sex in the common room? But no, we have to wait another five years before she returns to London and jumps in bed with a duke.

The twins begin their illustrious jobs at the esteemed London Journal. Because a Wakefield wouldn’t get out of bed for a tabloid paper. Jessica is pissed about being assigned as a social columnist. Uh, no offence Jess but you’re INTERNS. 16-year-old undergraduate interns at that. Fuck her self-entitlement complex gets to me. Also, isn’t social commentary pretty much Jessica’s dream job? Swanning around London snapping Pippa Middleton or Rosie Huntington-Whitely. Or in those days, the likes of Hugh Grant and Liz Hurley??

But worry not – within their first week our twins are promoted to senior fucking crime reporters, which not only involves chasing leads on the nation’s biggest murders but also taking on the job of the entire Scotland Yard. I guess some inferior, non-Wakefield plebs can take on those pesky tasks of reporting on petty theft at the Oxford Street 7-11 or a pommy breaching an AVO.

Gold star, you two.

But we couldn’t have such wonderful criminologists in town without an epic crime. And so, in London that week there is a spate of brutal attacks on humans and dogs which are suspiciously like the work of a werewolf. Beware the full moon, bitches.

There is more to this wonderfully transparent mystery:

Elizabeth befriends/cheats on Todd with a sensitive beatnik type called Luke Shepherd. Luke is strong and kind and poetic and they make electric shocks together and all that shit, but the real appeal lies in his dark obsession with werewolves.  Hmm…something tells me there’s a link here. Given that Elizabeth is an amazingly perceptive journalist, you would think she might come to the same conclusion when he takes her out to a restaurant known as “The Slaughtered Lamb.”

Also, Luke is a fucking tool, because he leads Elizabeth to the conclusion that a werewolf is behind all the killings. Luke is an idiot. And surely Liz is too much of a skeptic to believe him? No! It’s all very logical, you see. What creature other than a werewolf would be capable of tearing the throats out of innocent Londoners?

[Man, if only they’d written this a couple of years later. I can just imagine Jessica’s headlines:

“Did a Werewolf Kill Diana?” or, “What Camilla REALLY Gets Up to When the Moon is Full”].

But I digress. Back to this riveting mystery.

The killings go on and on, with no end in sight. Mainly because they have two sixteen year olds on the job, and the policeman in charge of the investigation is a bumbling fool called Seargent Bumpo. [This is making Twilight look like the work of Bram Stoker.]

But back at the hostel, some of the twin’s housemates have mysteries of their own.

Elizabeth is intrigued by social justice advocate Lina, who has headed to London all summer to work at a soup kitchen. She wears rags and looks somewhat familiar. Coincidentally, the young British Princess Eleina [who I’m guessing is Will and Harry’s cousin] has gone missing, and her face is all over the papers. Do you need a hint? Oh wait, you’re more than five.

There is also a snobby bitch called Portia who appears nightly at the Globe theatre. Only she’s not really a snob at all – she was just acting the whole time. All the time. Taking the Stanislavski method WAAAAY too far, methinks.

Jessica, meanwhile, is getting around with Lord Robert Pembroke, who is pretty much the English aristocracy’s version of Bruce Patman. She also gets VERY disappointed that Picadilly Circus doesn’t have any clowns. Dumbass.

Our story ends with Lord Robert inviting the twins over to stay at his manor. I’m sure he was doing a Prince Harry and thinking BINGO, but Liz goes and brings Luke the Werewolf along. That night, Jessica is the victim of a brutal attack when someone attempts to cut her throat. The book actually leaves on a high note, detailing how her limbs are all tangled, and she’s pulseless and soaked in blood.

“Elizabeth knew her tears would never end; her pain and sorrow could never be soothed. Her beloved sister was dead- murdered!”

Will Jessica die or is it just a hickey???? Only the second book of the story arc will tell…

Stay tuned for our super Halloween edition in the coming week!

Winston

My Christmas Wish: Sweet Valley Twins Special Edition “A Christmas Without Elizabeth”

13 Dec

I am totally digging this cover. For starters, there’s a shot of a woe-begone Liz with all her hair chopped off, sporting a fugly and completely unflattering red ensemble. But that has nothing on the title, nor the by-line: ““What If Elizabeth Had Never Been Born?” Oh, what if! Please, ghostwriters, make my day –

The first part of the book is actually rather likeable. Jessica had been elected head of the SVMS party planning committee, and like Angela of “The Office” fame, the power is going to her head. She has a kitty of $186 to spend, once she’s come up with a knockout theme to impress all the boys she’s after. Liz, meanwhile, is helping at the homeless shelter, and she befriends a poor family called the Glasses, whom she can pity and shoulder pat whenever she likes. The volunteer work is so all-consuming that she is blowing off TBT, Amy, homework and even the Sixers. She steals the $186 and gives it to Mrs Glass to put a down-payment on a rental property. Because they are poor, I fear it may be a place on the Wrong Side Of The Tracks, possibly near The Shady Lady or The Martins. Mr Glass is “working away” and uncontactable, and without the money for a week’s rent, the family are evicted. That night, Jessica figures out that her twin stole the money, and Elizabeth is the subject of everyone’s anger from the Glass kids to the Unicorns. And so she bawls, and feels sorry for herself and wishes that she had never been born… [If Only].

That was the first part of the book. The good bit. From here on in, Liz is taken around town by a spectre, whose sole purpose is to visit Liz and prove how wonderful she is and how the universe wouldn’t function without her. The angel, however, is fairly shrewd, making this observation about St Liz:

“Personality Problems Profile. Elizabeth can be very self critical. She takes on more responsibility than is age-appropriate. She can be stubborn and exhibits a tendency towards self-righteousness. She is a major goody-goody.”

She then takes Liz for a spin around the Valley, “A Christmas Carol” style, showing all the things that would’ve happened had Elizabeth never been born:

#1 Without Liz, Sophia Rizzo is a social pariah, and her brother ends up in reform school because he got in so many fights defending her.

#2 Sophia’s mom and Sarah Thomas’ dad never get married.

#3 Sarah Thomas is dead. [Apparently without Liz, she would have died from falling down a flight of stairs.]

Dear God.

#4 Denny Jacobsen is dead. Without St Liz, there was no-one to rescue him when a monster wave hit and his surfboard whacked him on the head.

I’m starting to see a pattern here.

#5 Brooke Dennis a social outcast. [Maybe a leper?]

#6 Mary Giaccio/Wallace is still in foster care and has mousy, limp hair.

#7 TBT is miserable and boring without the love of his life and stays at home playing video games all day [so really, nothing’s changed.]

#8 Amy and Winston are not on the Booster’s cheer-squad. OK, I read Booster Boycott, and Liz had nothing to do with me being on that squad, dammit!

#9 I get beaten up by Jerry McAllister and Charlie Cashman. [Would’ve liked to see Liz stopping that one. ]

#10 The Unicorns are called the Sharks and they smoke actual cigarettes! OMG!

Enough, spirit, enough! Show me no more!

#11 Alice is accused of having an affair and Nalice divorces, because there was no St Liz to defend her! [She’s been boning Hank Patman all along, I knew it! If only Liz had covered it up and she could continue her wicked ways….]

#12 Ned is a divorced alcoholic who hangs out at Kelly’s.

#13 Steven has a tattoo, an earring and a ponytail. He is also in the hood. This is what happens as a direct result of a divorce in Sweet Valley. And the divorce is a direct result of Elizabeth never having been born.

Here’s an excerpt of the Wakefields, sans Liz:

Mrs Wakefield ran out the door after him. “Will you at least be home to open gifts tomorrow morning?”

Steven stopped in midstride halfway across the lawn. “Did you get me that CD player I want?”

“Steven, you know we don’t have that kind of money –“

“Then the answer’s no.”

 

#14 Without Liz, Jessica is ugly and unpopular. When the Sharks come round pretending to be her friend, she jumps at the chance. They then force her to scale City Hall and remove the star from the top, and she falls to her death.

It is now that Elizabeth realizes she is crucial to everyone’s livelihood, and agrees to go back to the real world.

When she “wakes up”, she’s at the SVMS Christmas party, as the guest of honour. A guest of honour? At a fucking Christmas party? With all this miracle work, she’s practically Jesus Christ, so why am I not surprised?

Everyone is gushing over her, and the crowd cheers every time she opens her mouth. Then the friggen Glasses turn up with good news – they’ve moved into an even better apartment! In the space of one day! Even Mr Glass is there, which is surprising because I was beginning to think he might be George…

The moral of the story – Elizabeth Wakefield is central to the functioning of Sweet Valley, to California and to the entire solar system. Can I have the past two hours of my life back? Please? Francine, if you’re reading this: “A Christmas Without Elizabeth” is the perfect title for a spin-off series, where Margo finally has her way….Just a thought.

***

As many of you know, I am a major Sweet Valley nut. But above and beyond that, I am a Christmas dork. I freaking love Christmas. I turn into this corny, caroling version of myself. So this year, I decided to put a Sweet Valley spin on my Christmas decorations. The Evil Twin scene from last week is in the living room. And this is what became of my book collection:

Prince Albert is the Wakefield’s dog, but Prince Arthur is their toyboy, or SVH #91 In Love With A Prince

25 Oct

I always liked Dana Larson. She was spunky, smart and her own person [not a pseudo-individual like Olivia Davidson or Dawn Schafer], and best of all, she didn’t fawn over those bloody Wakefields. But in this book, she morphed from Democrat to Monarchist, and totally lost her soul to Elizabeth’s penpal, Prince Arthur de Castillo of Santa Dora.

The TV version was even more awful – in the absence of Dana, Prince Arthur hooked up with Jessica, and the character who was called Lila but behaved like Caroline Pearce revealed his engagement to a Santa-Doran dutchess at a bash at Fowler Crest. Sheesh.

The outfits were definitely the high point of the book

Jessica paused to check her reflection in a plate glass window. She was wearing a crisp white linen minidress, a pink blazer, high heels and more gold necklaces and bracelets than Dana could count.

Dana had thrown on a baggy black cotton sweater and flowered leggings, a casual outfit that had earned her a disapproving look from Jessica when she’d squeezed into the twin’s jeep.

Lila stared down at her, her hands on the hips of her red-and-white polka dotted minidress.

“Besides,” Dana added with a smile, looking down at her bike shorts, hi-top sneakers and wacky t-shirt, “When all is said and done, I’m not really the princess type.”

The plot is definitely the low point:

Elizabeth’s penpal, Prince Arthur [you may remember him from Sweet Valley Twins, so 10 points for continuity], is coming to visit from Santa Dora, which is described as being “a tiny kingdom on the Mediterranean seacoast between Southern France and Northern Spain”. Now, I checked with google images and this is all I found for “Santa Dora, Mediterranean”

I recognise this from my 4-year-old niece's stocking last Xmas 

I checked google maps, too and nope, nothing. Must be incredibly tiny. Or a figment of Fran-Pasc’s imagination.

So Arthur’s coming to town and Jess and Lila have their claws out, despite the fact that Jess is dating Sam Woodruff, and Lila was molested by John Pfeifer in the last book. I always thought Lila’s response to her assault was quite realistic, but now I see it was delayed by a good four books in which she continued to chase boys.

Liz is, of course, Arthur’s first choice for an American hook-up, but she actually resists his charms and sticks with Todd for a change. I hate Arthur already. Also, I wish Margo had sped things up by five or so books so she could ruin him.

Anyway, we have an all-American welcome dinner at Casa de Wakefield, which is attended by the usual crew-  Ken, Terri, Enid and equally dull date, and Maria Santelli who cant stop fawning over Arthur. Personally, I would have gone for the bodyguards Arthur has in tow, Justino and Paulo. They sound kind of cute.

Dana Larson will have none of it, ‘cause she’s tough-ass Dana and immune to Arthur’s flirtatious charm. At SVH the next day, when she starts spouting her anti-royalist sentiments, Creepy Collins encourages her to aggravate their new guest and have a political debate. Idiot.

“A debate is the perfect solution,” Winston looked pointedly at Maria. “Maybe it will give people, especially of the female persuasion, a better perspective on this royalty thing.” Right on, Winnie!

At The Droid’s band practice that night in Max Dellons’ garage, Lynne Henry [the Linda Rondstandt lookalike who won over Guy Chesney] wants to rehearse a song for Prince Arthur called “Rule My Heart”. Yawn.

The next day, Dana puts together a well-constructed argument about how the De Castillos are corrupt and how Sweet Valley’s democratic society is like, way better than tyranny. She champions for the poor masses who fund Arthur’s glitzy lifestyle while he lounges around and doesn’t pay a cent. Uh, no offence Dana but I rarely see you turning down a bash at the Fowlers.

Arthur blabs on about his philanthropic causes and how he works, like, totally hard.

If you sensed sexual tension…you were correct! At another Wakefield party the next evening, where they are eating hot dogs and slutting around in stars-and-stripes bikinis, Dana and Arthur actually dance. We never find out what she wore, however. Boo.

She does let us in on something though: “I haven’t felt like this since…since the last time I fell in love!” Up here for thinking, Dana.

And so we have our whirlwind, fairytale romance, with electric shocks and various other clichés. Arthur even takes Dana to La Maison Blanche, which must have changed its name in four years because it was definitely La Maison Jaques in SVT. Either way, I’d pegged Dana as more of a Kelly’s Roadhouse kind of chick….

Oh yeah and she actually considers his marriage proposal. Dana has really lost it this time.

But all’s not well – the Sweet Valley News phones Dana, and it turns out that according to Santa Dora tradition, Arthur is only pursuing her because needs a wife by his 17th birthday. Yes, evil Lila did some research and leaked the story.  [GO LILA!] If it’s not Dana he marries, Arthur will get hitched to some mole called Tracey he’s betrothed to back home. So Dana feels used and abused, and tells Arthur and Liz where to go. [Go Dana!]

But then….Arthur grows a spine and calls home and tells Daddy to abandon the custom which has only been around for, you know, hundreds of centuries. He asks Dana to marry him, “not now but someday”, and she says….NO!!!!

Suck it, prince –

For once someone in Sweet Valley realizes that having a boyfriend isn’t the be all and end all, and that there might actually be some things she wants to do before she settles down. Dana is alright after all, I’ve decided. Back to her kick-ass feminist ways.

But it wouldn’t be Sweet Valley without a sappy ending, so I’ll leave you with this disgusting pash in the final scene, when Dana says goodbye to her royal fling:

She lifted her face to Arthur’s for one last kiss. It was warm and gentle and salty; they were both crying.

Ew.

Last note: This was on the back cover, heralding the start of a new age of Sweet Valley: werewolves, vampires, magic jungle prom punch and of course, evil doppelgangers and their identical twins….

Presenting Magenta Galaxy and Daniella Fromage: SVH#62 Who’s Who?

11 Oct

“I’m telling you, Liz, the boys around here are so immature it makes me want to join a convent sometimes.”

How’s that for an opening line? Right up there with “Marley was dead. As dead as a doornail.” and “Two households, both alike in dignity/ In fair Verona where we lay our scene.” Yup, Jessica Wakefield, right up there with the likes of Dickens and Shakespeare with her sociological observations.

But lets not kid ourselves – the awesomeness of this book lies not in the plot, nor the Wakefield twins nor the D-list characters they dredge up.

On the contrary, this book is in my all-time top ten SVH books [All things Margo-related knocked it out of the top five] on account of the incredible outfits it produced.

Cover courtesy of Shannon’s Sweet Valley High blog

 

The plot is quite ordinary by comparison – Jessica applies to a dating service under two psueudoyms – Daniella Fromage and Magenta Galaxy, and hooks two eligible teenagers, Pierre and Brett, respectively. Daniella is a “cultured” snob based on Suzanne Hanlon, [who Jessica hates but uses to borrow clothes and personality traits]. Magenta is a Dana Larson-style wild rocker, a character that Jessica is going to find extremely difficult to back up because she has no musical talent. Also, she hates foreign films and doesn’t speak French, rendering this whole exercise a complete waste of time destined for a chaotic end. How she thinks this could possibly work is beyond me. I think she needs a part time job. Or a hobby. Seriously.

So, Jessica goes along and dates both at once, and our book culminates in a dinner scene where she and Liz switch between the characters. Finally, Pierre and Brett wise up, and Jessica is ruined until a couple of books later where she meets someone else on a teen phone line. Apparently teens met through dating services and phone lines in Sweet Valley back in the day. Good God. I’m glad facebook hasn’t been discovered yet.

But enough of that- lets see how Daniella Fromage and Magenta Galaxy measured up in the fashion stakes:

DF:

“How about this cream silk blouse?” Elizabeth suggested, picking up the cream coloured silk one she had noticed before. “You have those navy blue linen pants. They would look great with this.”

A square silk scarf in red, blue and gold caught her eye. She made a triangle out of it and held it against the blouse. Terrific.

“Oh that’s great!” Jessica exclaimed when she saw the effect. “It’ll be perfect with that little red bag of Suzanne’s and my blue suede flats.”

I was loving this outfit…then I realized that instead of “black snakeskin pumps” it read “blue suede flats”. Daniella Fromage, you’ve let us all down…

MG:

For her outfit, she had chosen tight black bicycle pants, a black tank top, and a leather jacket she’d borrowed from Lila. Almost anything from Dana’s collection would look right with the ensemble.

“The guitar pick earrings, definitely!” Elizabeth said. “And those black bangles.”

On Thursday night, Jessica had another blue streak in her hair. She wriggled into a blue strapless minidress and fastened a necklace of dice and tiddlywinks [what are tiddlywinks?] around her neck. In among the clicking pieces were scrabble tiles that spelled out “hard rock”.

This is a legitimately awesome necklace. I give it 18 points.

Dana looked down at her wrists. She was wearing four thick black bangles on each arm. They went perfectly with her skintight black pants, black and white-checkered shoes, and lime green t-shirt. In one ear she wore a guitar pick dangling from a silver wire.

Uh, no offence Dana but you look more like The New Elizabeth than a, like, hardcore rock chick.

One outfit: Two Ways

Faced with two dates on the same night, Jessica must appear as both Daniella Fromage and Magenta Galaxy. Being two places at once is a cinch when you have a doormat for an identical twin, who agrees to act as one of the females. But not content with spending the night with just one of the guys, Jessica decides she and Elizabeth will continually switch between DF and MG

“Here’s how we’ll do it. We’ll wear the same basic outfit, black leotards and black skirts, but I’ll start out with Magenta’s jewellery and you can wear Daniella’s accessories. And Suzanne’s cropped jacket. And a beret. And we’ll each have a blue streak in our hair, but when we’re Daniella we can cover it up with the beret.

DF

MG

[I love you guys, but not quite enough to subject myself to blue hair dye.]

Oh yeah and it turns out that Brett S and Pierre de Luc are as fake as Magenta and Daniella – Pierre thinks Fellini is a type of pasta and confuses Ingrid Bergman with “Swedish director Ingmar Bergman”. And Brett gets the Doors and the Rolling Stones confused. These people are weird.

I thought Jessica would learn from the inevitable failure of her ridiculous plan, but no – she and doormat are back up to their dirty tricks when she dates a photographer and a gaffa in the Fashion Victim story arc.

Are you Team Magenta Galaxy or Team Daniella Fromage? After all, this is the one-dimensional world of Sweet Valley where you couldn’t possibly be a bit of both…

Later this week: WLMS Chapter 12 and Your chance to WIN a Team Margo T-shirt [screw the Wakefields – Margo Forever!]

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