Tag Archives: sweet valley university

Sweet Valley Confidential: The Verdict? Perfect! [Warning, Spoilers]

30 Mar

Unlike the sugar-coated, predictable, solved-in-sixty-pages plots of our bygone series, Sweet Valley Confidential is surprisingly… real. Told through a series of flashbacks – to high school, to SVU, and to the events that led to the war between the twins – each chapter provides just the right amount of tantalizing detail to keep you in complete suspense. It was absolutely unputdownable – to the point where I was pacing my living room like a maniac, screeching, “Lila had a boob job?!” “How the fuck did Liz find out?” and “Who has Steven been screwing all this time?”

And yet, it reflects just enough of the series we so lovingly snark, with the resurgence of original Sweet Valley personalities like Caroline Pearce, Ken Matthews and Jeffery French. It harks back to those defining events – the death of Regina Morrow, the demise of Enid-the-Drip – that even snarky old me remembered with a fond smile.

All the while, the book poked just the right amount of fun at the Sweet Valley franchise, with self-referential remarks such as

“Bruce Patman kissed her [Elizabeth] ! That had never happened before. At least, not while she was conscious anyway, but that’s another story.”

Yes, folks, a warm-wine-in paper-cup reference from fan favourite “Dear Sister”.

Although heavy on those age-old Sweet Valley-an themes of true love, sisterhood and commitment, the emotions ‘Confidential dealt with were surprisingly raw. For once, not everything fell into place for our twins, as even they had to cope with rejection, criticism and the realisation that they were  –  shock horror – not the perfect sized-six beings of the past.

Before I give you the story straight up, let me add this disclaimer: my recap can not do this epic work of chick lit the justice it deserves. Recapped in chronological fashion, it seems a little blah, but this suspense-filled book is anything but. Go and get yourselves a copy [or if you’re an Aussie* befriend your fellow Americans / have a super-awesome reader who will express mail you a copy].

Heavy spoilers below the cut!

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The One Where Winston Doesn’t See Anything, or SVU THRILLER EDITION #7, “WHAT WINSTON SAW.”

20 Jan

Think of the five worst SVH plotlines you’ve ever read. Trouble narrowing it down? Me too. But there’s a fair bet that you’ll come up with the following combination rearranged and chucked into Fran-Pasc’s winning formula:  Psycho murderers. Check. Glittering knives. Check. A police department so incompetent that a bunch of dumbass teenagers does a better job. Check. An evil blonde vixen. Check. Elizabeth Wakefield shoulder-patting her way to triumph. Check.

This book, “What Winston Saw” incorporates all of the above, and more. On one hand, I cannot believe I named my blog after it. But on the other, it really does encompass everything I know and love to hate about Sweet Valley:

Winston Egbert has a brand new life, thanks to replacing his geeky specs with a set of contacts and acquiring a new job as assistant to the University Dean, Mr Franklin.

Winston thinks his girlfriend Denise is doing the dirty on him with Bruce. Given that Bruce is the Sigma president, wealthy heir to the Patman fortune and an all around hunk of man, Winston wonders who could blame her:

All his life, Winston had been known as the goofball, or the class clown. Beautiful, sexy women just didn’t throw themselves at his size twelve feet. Denise was the only exception, and Winston knew that a guy like him could never be so lucky twice in one lifetime.

Well excuuuse me! Have you forgotten Maria Santelli? You know, the mayor’s daughter slash hot cheerleader who blew off her engagement for you, and spent the next 120 books going to every junior year dance with you and tripping over your massive feet? Oh, that old thing…

But obviously someone else got the memo about a man with big feet: the bosses’ wife, a leggy blonde known as Amanda Franklin, gets all Annie Whitman on us [without the pills] and starts coming on to Winston.  We know she is a whore because she has red toenails and a sequinned slip with a thigh-high slit. The dialogue is like a really, really bad porno.

Stuff like,

“What’s in the garden?” Winston asked in a husky voice.

“Many surprises,” Amanda whispered, her mouth so close to his that Winston could breathe in her words. She slid her hand under the lapels of his sports coat and pressed her hand against his chest.

“I can make you forget the terrible things Denise has done to you.”

I can’t write anymore, it’s so dreadful. I’m literally blushing like a nun in a brothel.

Winston decides his new contact lenses are responsible for this attention.

Anyway, they’re at some kind of academic cocktail party that Elizabeth Wakefield has to cover for WXSV. On seeing the dean’s wife having a crack at her friend, Liz meddles, and doesn’t sleep with Tom. They could have seriously saved ten year’s worth of ghostwriter salaries by writing the same four paragraphs and inserting them into every SVU book:

Liz covers a breaking story on campus.

Tom whispers sweet nothings in her ear and nuzzles her neck with vigor.

Liz wards off his advances and tightens the screws of her chastity belt.

Tom trudges off to bed with blue balls.

Liz ponders her latest charity case and goes to weep pity on the poor soul, shoulder pats aplomb.

This time, Winston is the case in point, and although I thought she’d left the Eyes and Ears behind at SVH, she is determined to pry into the Denise-Bruce-Winston-hot-bosses’-wife-quadrangle.

Because this is Sweet Valley, an evil murderer called Jack is lurking around on campus. We know he is evil because he smokes and drinks whiskey. He is on the run after knifing his childhood sweetheart, Gina, who he caught making out with another dude.  Elizabeth just happens to be running across campus at midnight to shoulder pat Winston, and the murderer is so taken with her beauty and resemblance to Gina that he decides to attack her. [I just had a thought – Maybe Gina was really Margo? That would be 137 shades of awesome.]

After the party, Amanda is all “hey yeah you with the sad face” and somehow finds herself entwined in a passionate embrace with Winston [Go Winston!] in his dorm room. Just when he gets a conscience and decides to kick her out, she goes over to the window.

Winston’s eyes bulged in horror. She’s going to kill herself! He thought in panic. I shouldn’t have rejected her.

You wish buddy – turns out she’s spotted St Liz copping a beating, and her face has scared off Jack the attacker.

After the crazy man leaves Liz for dead in the bushes, Winston and Amanda decide not to call the cops, ‘cause then everyone might find out that they were fooling around. How logical.

Winston boots her out and LETS HER WALK ACROSS CAMPUS ALONE. OK, so he offered to chaperone, but still. That’s a low, Patman-esque move –  I thought better of Winston.

The next morning, Winston wakes up to find that someone has been brutally murdered at the local bar and grill. Thinking it might have something to do with the attack Amanda witnessed, [because EVERYTHING is linked in Sweet Valley] he decides to contact the police. However, Amanda the infidel won’t cooperate, so Winston decides he will pretend to be the witness. And this will help the investigation how exactly?? From photographs, he “identifies” a suspect, who happens to be an undercover cop. Winston is overcome with guilt and decides to conduct his own investigation. As luck would have it, he runs into a guy who matches Amanda’s description of the attacker and follows him across Sweet Valley. He tracks him to the Gangbusters Saloon on the outskirts of town, a place that makes Kelly’s Roadhouse Bar seem like a chapel.

Gaa, these plots are bad. And long. If this were SVH, we’d be onto our second stack of blueberry pancakes by now.

Over the next hundred pages, Jackson goes around Sweet Valley killing any blonde he catches making out with someone. Winston tells a bunch of lies to the detectives – and the court – to avoid implicating himself Amanda in anything. That’s OK, Win – I’m sure committing a federal offence has nothing on confessing to a pash with a stranger who you fended off anyway.
He also finds out that Denise wasn’t cheating at all – just spending a stack of time with Bruce so she could borrow his Porsche. While Lila was out of town. Riiiiighht.

Under the command of St Elizabeth, Winston finally fesses up to his girlfriend, and all is forgiven, never mind that he should be convicted of perjury. But it’s all too little too late…

Winston is then named as the prime murder suspect by some warped Sweet Valley logic that I cannot follow, and Amanda refuses to give him an alibi, instead telling her husband that Winston is a crazy stalker.  At the theatre, yes, the theatre, that night, Jack murders Amanda [having realised that SHE was the real witness], and drops the bloodied knife at Winston’s size eleven feet. The fuck? Of course, Dean Franklin appears, and Winston’s only option is to run away. Where does he go? I’ll give you three guesses…

Back in Elizabeth Wakefield’s dorm room, Denise, Liz and Winston hatch a plan [Tom Watts has been absent since the blue balls incident of chapter two.] Denise dresses up in a cleavage-showing leather mini and blonde wig, to attract the killer’s attention, and Liz and Winston team up to get the killer once he’s been booby trapped.  Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but of course the plan goes off without a hitch.

Jackson is captured and taken away forever, and Winston’s murder/perjury/misleading court charges are dropped. Never mind that his lies allowed Jack to go around murdering more innocent blondes – all Winston loses is his job. Good God.

Finally, the sun comes up, and our A Team settle in to a pancake breakfast over the Sunday papers:

Winston read the headline aloud. “ ‘Sweet Valley Serial Killer Sentenced to Life in Prison.’  I thought I’d never see the day.”

Really Winston? Really? In the past three years you’ve witnessed your friends being kidnapped by crazed orderlies, stalked by evil dopplegangers, held at knifepoint by ex-convicts and tied up in a flooded basement with a gaggle of cheergirls, and you thought you’d NEVER SEE THE DAY.

You can hang your size- eleven shoes on that.

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