October 10, 2012
Summary: 1825-1846: Sophie Edmonton, daughter of an English duke, falls in love with a stable hand named Henry Patman. (Sigh.) Since he’s poor, she has to keep the relationship from her father. Sophie and Henry plan to elope, but her sister Melanie reads her diary and tells their father what they’re planning. Henry winds up deported and Sophie winds up with a lord. Meanwhile, Henry goes to New York and wins a plantation in a poker game.
1851-1852: Sophie’s daughter Emma runs away from a planned marriage so she can become an actress in London. She changes her name to Vanessa and doesn’t tell anyone her father’s an earl. She lives with a guy named Patrick, who falls in love with her and proposes, and though she accepts at first, she ultimately leaves to join a traveling troupe. She falls in love with the director, who is secretly the son of a marquess. Why are all these rich people pretending not to be rich?
1861-1864: There’s this really boring section about James Patman (Henry’s son) disagreeing with his family about slavery being wrong, then helping free slaves via the Underground Railroad. He marries a former slave named Hope and she gets pregnant, but before she can have the baby, she’s murdered. (This was the only part of the book I had any kind of emotional connection to. Everything else was bleh.) James goes back home and learns that his whole family’s dead. Cheerful!
1886: Katherine (granddaughter of Emma) is an up-and-coming teenage actress. She travels to America with the Royal Shakespeare Company and falls in love with James’ son John in Kansas. The night she’s supposed to leave, he plans to meet her at the train station and propose. But there’s a robbery at the bar where John works and Katherine leaves on a train just before he can get to her. She’s hurt because she thought John stood her up, but she reads about the hold-up in the newspaper and goes back to Kansas. She’s too late, though – John has already split town. Oh, and her whole family is dead, too, because of a fire. What’s up with people’s whole families getting wiped out?
1890-1893: John goes to Texas and hooks up with a cowgirl named Samantha (no relation to this Samantha). Just as he’s about to head to another city to look for work, since their ranch isn’t doing well, they find oil.
1924-1927: William (one of John and Samantha’s kids) marries Helena and they have a son named Paul who dies when he’s just few weeks old. Hold on to that thought.
1941-1945: Katherine has a daughter named Cassandra, who becomes a doctor and works at a hospital in Europe during World War II. She falls in love with a wounded solder named Spencer and gets pregnant. But Spencer returns to the war and is killed in battle, and the news makes Cassandra miscarry. In 1945, Spencer’s best friend Peter looks Cassandra up and they get together. She’s supposedly not able to have any more kids, but has two anyway, Marie and Peter.
Meanwhile, a guy named Reginald Rainier starts working for William and becomes like a son to him. Helena meets him and thinks he looks like William. Some digging turns up a very soap operaish story: Reginald and Paul (William and Helena’s son, remember) were switched at birth, and Reginald is really a Patman. So now Reginald has money and marries his girlfriend May, who, if you ask me is a little too interested in his sudden inheritance. They name their first child Henry, after Reginald’s adoptive father. (They later have a son named Paul – that would be Roger Barrett Patman’s father – and I thought it was sweet that they named him after William and Helena’s late “son.”)
1960s: The two families come together again – Henry and Marie go to high school together and get engaged their senior year. She learns she has leukemia and thinks she’s going to die, so she breaks up with Henry in a letter. He’s in California at the time and decides to go to college there instead of Harvard. As we know, he gets together with Alice but she dumps him for Ned. A few years later, Marie moves to L.A. and runs into Henry. She finally tells him about her illness and recovery, and he forgives her for lying. They quickly get engaged, get married, and have everyone’s favorite potential rapist, Bruce.
Thoughts: Henry’s not just a stable hand, he’s a stable hand who says, “As you wish.” I think we all know who that character is based on.
Find me one person who cares what Bruce Patman’s great-great-grand-something thought about slavery. I dare you. I mean, there’s a whole chapter of the family fighting about secession. SO BORING.
I know people didn’t live as long in the past, but did they all have to get married after two months of dating? Because pretty much everyone in this book (and the other sagas) practically runs to the altar. And these aren’t even shotgun weddings.
Bruce’s ancestors are all better people than he is. And Marie and Hank seem like normal people, so I can’t figure out where they went wrong with the kid.
April 1, 2012
Summary: Now that John Marin is back behind bars, Ned decides everyone needs a vacation, so he sets up a vacation to Catalina. (Steven doesn’t get to go, but who cares?) They’re just starting to relax when Marin escapes from prison, thanks to the utter stupidity of a prison guard who only took three days to fall in luv with him. He kills her partner, steals the guard’s car (leaving her in the trunk in the desert), and carjacks another family to drive back to Sweet Valley. There, Marin gets into Ned’s office, finds out the Wakefields are on Catalina, and follows them out there. Then he pays off a bunch of people to stalk the twins on a horseback-riding trip.
Jessica’s horse almost falls off a cliff, and just as Elizabeth is about to help her get to safety, Marin shows up. Jessica channels Jessamyn by jumping onto Liz’s horse, which Liz proceeds to force to jump off a cliff. Yes, that happened. Ned figures out that Marin is on Catalina and takes a horse out to find the girls, not that they need rescuing. Then the Wakefields rent a houseboat to escape the island, but Marin gets a motoboat and keeps following them.
Ned is apparently unable to ignore a person in need, and when he sees that the motorboat appears to be in trouble, he anchors the houseboat and heads over in a dinghy to help out (obviously not knowing Marin’s there). Marin busts the motorboat’s radio and makes it fill with water, then escapes to the dinghy. Ned is left behind on a broken boat with no method of communication. Oh, and of course it’s storming. Marin takes the dinghy to the houseboat, knocks out Alice, puts Elizabeth in a storage space, and then…just kind of hangs out with Jessica for a while. (There’s a part here where it’s not really clear what’s going to happen.)
After Alice regains consciousness and Marin randomly lets Liz out of the storage space, he ties them all up. Then he pours gasoline everywhere and starts some fires. Ned makes it back to the houseboat to save his wife and daughters, but instead of leaving with them, like a smart man, he goes back to grab Marin. It’s too late, but all the Wakefields survive to…be almost killed another day, I guess.
Thoughts: Jessica: “There just aren’t that many murderers out there, and we already found one this summer. So, statistically, there’s no danger anymore.” Except “this” summer has been going on for five years, and you’ve had run-ins with a dozen murderers in that time period. What are the statistics on that?
Why do women keep falling in love with Marin so quickly? He’s not that hot. Is he really that charming? The characters seem to think so. It’s like he’s a cult leader or something.
Though I guess I could ask the same about the twins – why do guys fall in love with them so quickly? There’s even one in this book. Brad, the guy leading the twins’ horseback-riding group, flirts with her, even though she’s clearly 16 and he’s married.
“At night the café at the pool turns into a disco. We get pretty funky bands here.” Brad, I’m just going to stop you right there before you make a complete fool of yourself.
Also, why does the ghostwriter think ’90s teens are so into dancing?
Jessica: “Maybe it’s an eclipse.” Elizabeth: “Maybe your brain is eclipsed.” Come on, Liz, you’re a writer. You can do better than that.
Apparently everyone on Catalina can be bribed with $100.
The houseboat part of this book was actually foreshadowed in the previous book – Elizabeth watched Cape Fear.
Alice tells Ned to free Elizabeth first, so there’s another reason Jessica will be in therapy for the rest of her life.
Ned claims that Marin died of smoke inhalation, but I found Ned a little scary in this book and the last one, so I’m not sure he didn’t help things along. But since he does sare me, I’m just going to pretend I believe him.
February 16, 2012
Summary: Alice wins a week at the Paradise Spa for seven people, so she takes the twins, Enid, Lila, and Lila’s mother Grace. Enid’s mom has to stay behind for work, so the mother-daughter trip is really mother-daughter-motherless Enid. To make things worse for Enid, she’s feeling particularly unconfident next to all the pretty people who work at the spa. And to make things doubly worse, the guy Elizabeth tries to set her up with prefers Jessica.
Oh, yeah, of course there are guys. Elizabeth and Jessica both find a spa employee named Chris hot; Jessica thinks he’s interested in her, but he really likes Liz. Jessica moves on to Chris’ friend Alex, and though the two guys hang out with all four girls, Enid still feels left out. Elizabeth has also connected with an employee named Katya, who’s kind of touchy on the subject of her mother.
Enid starts doing beauty treatments with Tatiana, the woman who runs the spa. Tatiana has a scar on her face an unhealthy obsession with talking about how beautiful the Wakefields are. Also, she totally brainwashes Enid and makes her want plastic surgery. Katya leads some spa guests on a hike and they end up at a white building that the employees are all mysterious about. When Tatiana learns of the trek, she yells at Katya. The next day, Katya’s dead.
Tatiana claims that Katya had a heart condition and being in the steam room killed her. She has no family, so they can’t get in touch with them, even though Alice had encouraged her to contact her mother and Katya hadn’t said anything about her mother not being around. Elizabeth starts snooping – er, investigating – and finds an ad in Katya’s possessions that shows she found out about her spa job through a publication for runaways. It turns out all the teens who work at the spa are runaways, including Chris and Alex. They also don’t get paid for their work.
During a trip to a waterfall, Alice disappears. The twins freak and try to call Ned, but the phones aren’t working. Liz uses her laptop and emails Ned while Jessica snoops in Tatiana’s office and finds a yearbook from Alice’s senior year at SVU – except Alice’s picture has been cut out of it. (Yeah, that’s not creepy at all.) As Elizabeth figures out that Enid’s being conditioned for plastic surgery, Jess finds out that all of the spa employees have had their appearances enhanced since they started working there.
Elizabeth goes out looking for Alice, and even though it’s dark and dangerous, Grace, the only adult left, is all, “Don’t get killed. See ya!” Thanks for playing, Grace. Jessica then tells Lila and Grace about all the plastic surgery and stuff. She gets an email Ned sent back to Liz saying that he remembers Tatiana as an SVU classmate who had a girl crush on Alice. Jessica manages to put together that Tatiana, a surgeon, wants to make herself look like Alice. Meanwhile, Elizabeth returns to the place of Alice’s disappearance, where Chris, clearly brainwashed, pulls her into a cave, then takes her to Tatiana.
The whole story eventually comes out: Tatiana trained her assistant to perform plastic surgery so she can make Tatiana look like Alice. Then they’ll kill Alice because twins are bad, or something. Jessica, Lila, and Enid arrive to save the day, and Enid’s brainwashing proves to be as weak as Tatiana’s villainy, so she overtakes her brainwasher. She also in effect brings down the spa, leading all the employees to have a “ding dong, the witch is dead” moment. She probably still feels ugly, though.
Thoughts: Elizabeth, you don’t have “the instinct of a journalist.” You’re just nosy.
I don’t think I could handle being friends with someone as insecure as Enid for more than five minutes. Shut up, Enid.
Elizabeth just worked things out with Todd after the Ken fiasco, and she’s hooking up with another guy. Todd, believe it or not, you actually deserve better.
Funny how Lila thinks Jessica is crazy for falling for a groundskeeper – Lila strikes me as exactly the kind of person who would sleep with her hot gardener.
A book with “murder” in the title shouldn’t take 128 pages to get to that murder.
“After dialing Olivia Davidson’s E-mail address….” Oh, 1995, you’re so cute.
GHOSTWRITER. STOP USING THE WORD “MAILLOT.” NO ONE KNOWS WHAT IT MEANS.
December 28, 2011
Summary: As Jeremy reported at the end of Double-Crossed, Sue is missing. Jeremy takes the twins out looking for her, and we get to confirm what we’ve been suspecting: Jeremy and Sue are scamming everyone to get her inheritance. He’s stashed her in a cabin and is planning to keep her there until everything else gets worked out. Then he takes her necklace and tells the twins he found it in the woods.
The next morning, the Wakefields get a call from the “kidnapper” demanding $500,000 – what a coincidence, that’s the same amount as Sue’s inheritance! Elizabeth is the only one who realizes it. If anyone calls the police, the “kidnapper” will “kill” Sue. Ned calls a friend named Sam (not the dead one) who’s a PI, and he and Alice decide to keep the twins out of school until Sue’s safe.
Sam arrives, and the twins are shocked to learn she’s a woman. There’s, like, three pages here where they talk about it. It’s dumb. Anyway, Jeremy, who is turning into a bigger and bigger jerk as the hours pass, makes another phone call (previously recorded so he can be in the room when the Wakefields get it) demanding $100,000 more because the family called in a detective. He also wants the twins to deliver the money.
And then the book suddenly gets really crazy, and a little awesome. Lila comes by to get Jessica, and Alice acts weird and tells her Jessica’s sick. Lila calls later and Jessica decides it’s okay to tell her what’s going on, despite having just promised her family she wouldn’t say anything. Only Lila can’t really hear her, and she thinks the Wakefields are the ones who are being held hostage. She tells Todd, who’s already suspicious since Elizabeth has been acting weird, and the two spy on the house. They can see the Wakefields inside, looking tense, along with someone in a baseball cap. It’s Jeremy but they don’t recognize him.
Lila and Todd decide to work with Robby to get into the house and overpower the kidnapper. They come up with this convoluted plan to pretend to be from Sweet Valley Power (uniforms and all) and say they need to shut off the electricity. Then Lila will spray the kidnapper with some flame-retardant stuff while the guys help the Wakefields escape. At the same time, Sam, Ned, and Alice come up with their own plan, with Ned getting the money and Sam putting microphones on the twins so she can know what’s going on. And Jeremy has a completely separate plan where he disables Sam’s car, runs the twins off the road, takes the money, and runs away with Sue.
While Lila, Todd, Robby, and Robby’s cousin (who works for the power department) do this whole crazy thing to get the uniforms and a van, Jessica gives Jeremy Steven’s wedding ring, which he has to wear on his pinky because it’s too small. As she’s leaving for the “drop” (yes, they use all the lingo you would find in a crime novel), Jessica decides to take a camcorder with her and record everything. I don’t know why.
Just after the twins and Sam leave, Lila and the others arrive and see Jeremy leaving the house. They tackle him, but when they realize who he is, they let him go. Ned and Alice learn about their wacky plan and have to tell them what’s really going on. Jeremy goes to the cabin, where Sue has decided she’s done with the whole plan, and takes her to the meeting spot. He can’t run the twins off the road anymore, so he just plans to exchange Sue for the money, then go by the house later and pick Sue up so they can run off together. This is the only thing that ends up going as planned.
Back at the Wakefields’, everyone’s relieved that Sue’s safe, even though they weren’t able to catch the “kidnapper.” When she finds out Jessica recorded the whole exchange, she almost chokes on her we’re-glad-you’re-not-dead cake. Sam has everyone watch the recording of the “drop,” but since the “kidnapper” is wearing a mask, no one recognizes him. Jessica, however, recognizes something else: the wedding ring on the man’s pinky.
Thoughts: Jessica makes a good point: She broke up Jeremy and Sue’s wedding, so what would they have done if she hadn’t? Of course, the real question is, why did they do any of this in the first place? If Sue was going to get the inheritance for staying away from Jeremy, why were they together at all? This whole mini-series is overly complicated. Especially for SVH.
Robby’s business class is ending a week into November? I don’t think SVU is on the up-and-up.
Also, why is Robby still around? Why do I have to keep reading about him? Why should I be expected to care about Lila’s love life if Bruce isn’t involved?
There’s an actual funny moment where Lila and Todd plan to go to the Wakefields’, and Lila goes to get Robby first without telling him what’s going on. They spend the drive talking about an argument they had earlier, and when they get to Todd’s house, Robby asks why they’re there. Lila says, “Oh, I almost forgot. The Wakefields have been kidnapped.”
October 12, 2011
Summary: Ned and Alice are going out of town, as are Todd’s parents, so he decides to move into the Wakefields’ house for the week for a sort of practice marriage with Elizabeth. (Don’t freak out – he’s sleeping on the couch. You know Elizabeth Wakefield would never share a bed with someone unless they were married or both wearing five layers of clothes.) Jessica will only keep quiet about it if he does all her chores and makes her dinner every night.
Elizabeth is flipping out because of the picture she found of Hank and Alice, which she’s told Jessica about. She’s sure that Alice and Hank were once married, and Bruce is sure that they’re now having an affair. Elizabeth and Bruce keep meeting up to talk, and they start to think they’re developing feelings for each other. Because Elizabeth is spending so much time with Bruce, Todd feels jealous and lonely. Also, people keep finding out about him living at the Wakefields’, so it’s not so much of a secret anymore.
Todd gets clingy, and Elizabeth gets frustrated, so she starts avoiding him and making up reasons to see Bruce. Todd also complains when the twins decide to throw a pool party, acting like he really lives there and gets a say in what happens at the house. Pamela has also noticed all the Liz/Bruce closeness, and at the party, she decides it’s time to cut her man loose. Bruce pouts for about two seconds, then immediately goes to make out with Elizabeth. Which Todd sees, of course.
There’s a big fight, Todd leaves, and Elizabeth decides to go for a swim. She almost drowns but Todd comes back and saves her. He’s realized that he wasn’t listening to her or communicating with her in an appropriate way. Seriously, zero real teenagers act like Todd. Anyway, Liz’s near-drowning solves everything, so they’re okay. Then Alice comes home early and the twins confront her about the photo and her possible affair. She tells them the real story and promises that she’s not cheating. Now Bruce wants to get his parents back together. Like anyone cares about them.
Thoughts: I can’t believe Ned and Alice are okay with leaving the twins home alone after what happened the last time. Oh, right, horrible parents. I forgot.
First of all, there shouldn’t be a wedding picture of Alice and Hank if they didn’t get married. The bride and groom usually wait until after the wedding to take photos together; otherwise they break the tradition of the groom not seeing the bride in her dress before she walks down the aisle. Second of all, would you keep a non-wedding picture of yourself with a guy you didn’t marry after you’ve moved and married someone else? Does Ned know about this picture?
Sweet Valley now has a Laundromat/video store/cappuccino bar. Quick, name three things no one associates with each other ever. But actually, it’s a great idea for a business: You can watch a movie and have coffee while you wait for your laundry to finish.
Apparently Bruce knows some Latin dance moves. Who knew?
September 28, 2011
Summary: Lila takes Jessica to Jamaica for spring break, not telling her until they’re already there that it’s not really a vacation. They’ve been volunteered by Lila’s mom to work at Kiddie Paradise, which is basically a place where parents drop their kids for a week and never deal with them. Jessica’s furious and doesn’t want to have anything to do with Lila. And since the girls aren’t talking, they don’t realize that they’re dating the same guy, Mick (who’s also dating one of the other Kiddie Paradise employees).
Once the girls figure out that Mick is a jerk, they enlist Jessica’s wild group of kids to help them get revenge. They break Mick’s watch and cut and dye his hair purple all under the guise of a magic show. It’s lame, but Lila and Jessica are okay again. As if we ever thought something could break them up for good.
Elizabeth gets the better plot: She’s back in Sweet Valley, researching Alice’s family for an English project. Except Alice won’t be around to interview because she’s now working for Hank and will be going to Chicago with him. This upsets Bruce, as his parents are getting divorced and he thinks Hank and Alice are having an affair. He keeps insisting on this to Elizabeth, who thinks he’s crazy…until she finds a photo of Alice and Hank in a wedding gown and tux. So now Elizabeth isn’t so sure that things between Hank and Alice are innocent.
The really lame plot goes to Amy, who doesn’t think her family is interesting enough for the English project and tries to steal info on Alice’s family instead. She specifically wants to write about Jessamyn. When Elizabeth wonders what her interest is, Amy says that she thinks people in Alice’s family history might help shed some light on who she is. Elizabeth decides she’s right and she should include Jessamyn in her paper. So Amy shot herself in the foot on that one.
Thoughts: Kiddie Paradise is basically summer camp on an island. I really don’t think the parents have any interaction with the kids the whole time they’re there. It’s weird.
I’m fairly certain Lila is in no way related to someone who goes by Jimmo.
Jessica: “I never even got to show you my new red dress for wearing to the disco!” Did that sentence get translated from another language?
Enid says, “Yoo-hoo.” Of course she does.
In case there was any doubt that Bruce is a creep, he has no regrets about trying to rape Elizabeth in Dear Sister.
September 16, 2011
Summary: Margo’s plan is falling into place nicely: She’s fooled a number of people into thinking she’s Elizabeth, and she’s about to get Ned and Alice out of Sweet Valley. Things start to fall apart, though, when James grows a conscious and decides a) he’s really in love with Jessica and b) he doesn’t want to let Margo hurt her. He breaks up with Jessica so he can’t be used to do anything to her.
Margo ain’t playin’. She leaves James death threats, putting him so on edge that he decides to warn Jessica that she’s in danger. He calls and arranges to meet with her at a marina. Margo learns about the meeting and knows that James turned on her, so she decides to intercept him and kill him. But first she learns that Josh has tracked her down.
Margo figures out how to kill two birds with one stone (somewhat literally) and makes sure Josh knows she’s going to the marina. Jessica asks Elizabeth and Todd for a ride to the same place, and all three of them get there just as Margo kills James. Except they don’t see Margo, and they do see Josh, who they think is the real killer. Josh tells Todd that the twins are in danger from a girl who looks just like them, but Todd thinks he’s nuts. James is dead, Josh is taken to jail, and Margo is a happy camper again.
Through all of this, Ned and Alice are experiencing a comedy of errors in San Francisco, where Margo lured them with the idea of a job offer for Ned. Alice’s mother’s intuition is telling her that something’s wrong back home, but every time she calls home, Elizabeth tells her things are fine. This is because Margo is hanging around the house, pretending to be Elizabeth and intercepting all phone calls so the Wakefields never talk to each other.
Elizabeth has been having dreams about the prom, and is piecing together the things she’d forgotten. Just before a big New Year’s Eve party at Lila’s, she takes a nap and dreams about Jessica spiking her and Sam’s drinks. She’s furious that Jessica never took responsibility and made Elizabeth feel guilty over the accident.
Meanwhile, Margo’s master plan is coming together, and she’s arranged to wear the same dress as Elizabeth. She’ll kill her in the pool house and take her place on New Year’s Eve. Or at least she’ll try, unless Josh, who’s just escaped from jail, can stop her. Alice and Ned are also on their way back to Sweet Valley, with Alice more convinced than ever that something evil is brewing.
Todd learns that Josh has escaped from jail and worries that he’ll come after the twins. He tries to keep an eye on Elizabeth at the party, but he loses track of her, and when he thinks he’s found her again, he’s actually found Margo. He figures out that she’s not Liz or Jess, so she knocks him out. Margo then pretends to be Jessica and gets Elizabeth to meet her at the pool house, where she pulls out a butcher knife. Of course, she’s dumb enough to spill her whole plan, just like any other villain.
Jessica’s twin intuition (twintuition?) pulls an Alice and she starts looking around Fowler Crest for Elizabeth. She finally finds her in the pool house, and the three girls fight for control of the knife. Jessica is literally throwing herself in front of the blade to protect Elizabeth, so if Liz hadn’t already decided to forgive her for the whole prom fiasco, this would probably help. Steven and Billie have also learned about Josh’s escape, so they head to Fowler Crest so save the twins. (That part is kind of pointless.)
Enid spots Josh at the pool house and tells Steven he’s there. Todd regains consciousness and tells Steven that Josh isn’t the killer, some girl who looks like the twins is. Josh, Steven, and Todd race to the pool house, where Josh shoves Margo through a window and she takes a piece of glass to the jugular. By the time Ned and Alice arrive, the twins have made up and Margo is dead.
…Or is she?
Thoughts: “Was murderous violence Margo’s answer to everything?” Um, yes. That’s why she’s fun. Try to keep up, Josh.
I’m thinking guys in Sweet Valley are going to be a little more careful about Jessica from now on. She’s now had two boyfriends in a row die on her. A.J.’s probably thinking he dodged a (possibly literal) bullet.
“I wish Steven would tuck ME into bed!” Ew, Margo – he’s about to be your fake brother!
AS IF Lila would eat at a Pancake House.
April 8, 2011
Summary: We already got Alice’s family history; this is Ned’s.
1866: Theodore Wakefield, son of the Earl of Wakefield, is expected to marry his brother’s fiancée after his brother dies. He doesn’t want to, so instead he heads to America. On the way, he meets Alice Larson, whom he saves from drowning. As we already know, they get separated after they arrive in the States, and remain each other’s “one who got away.”
1876: Theodore works for the circus, training horses. There’s a young half-Native-American trapeze artist named Dancing Wind who has a big ol’ crush on him. Jessamyn shows up and Theodore thinks that her mother might be his long-lost Alice. Worried that she could lose Theodore, Dancing Wind attempts a dangerous stunt to get his attention, but ends up injuring herself and ending her career as a circus performer. Still, it works, as Theodore realizes he’s in love with her. They end up getting married and having twins, Sarah and James, but Dancing Wind just after giving birth.
1905-1907: Sarah falls in love with a boy named Edward, who her father doesn’t approve of because he’s not rich. They secretly see each other until James dues of influenza and Sarah feels guilty about lying. Theodore reads Sarah’s diary, learns about her relationship with Edward, and tells her to break things off or move out. Sarah bites the bullet and runs off with Edward. They go to San Francisco to get married, but before they can, the great San Francisco earthquake hits and they’re trapped in a hotel. They get sort-of married and have sex, but Edward dies trying to save someone else in the hotel.
Sarah goes home to Theodore and soon learns that she’s knocked up. She admits that she and Edward weren’t legally married, and Theodore sends her off to have her illegitimate child by herself. After the baby (also named Edward) is born, Theodore comes to get Sarah, telling her she can’t bring the baby with her. She refuses to go with her father but also doesn’t want her child to be raised with the stigma of illegitimacy, so she decides to tell him he’s an orphan and she’s his aunt.
1924-1937: Edward, Jr., now called Ted (as in the guy in Samantha and Amanda’s story), works in a jazz club but wants to be a journalist. He hangs out with jazz musicians, befriending the daughter of one; she encourages him to follow his dream and write. He decides to forgo college, but Sarah doesn’t support his decision. Soon after, she learns that her father has died and finally comes clean to Ted about his real family history. For some reason, this makes him decide to go to college after all.
We get little pieces of Ted’s site of the Amanda/Samantha story, and learn that he never found out that Samantha fooled him. After what he thought was Amanda’s betrayal, he heads to Dancing Wind’s reservation to learn more about her tribe. There, he meets a journalist named Julia Marks. There’s some stuff about a broken treaty and her wanting to break the story about it, but it’s all just backdrop to Ted and Julia falling in love, even though he didn’t think he was ready to be with anyone after what happened with Amanda. But they end up getting married and have a son, Robert.
Julia goes to Germany on assignment and uncovers some of the doings of the Nazis, another story she wants to break. Before she can, she takes a fateful trip on the Hindenburg. Yes, they went there.
1943-1945: 16-year-old Robert lies about his age so he can enlist to fight in World War II. His ship is sent to the Philippines to rescue some American nurses who have been captured as POWs by the Japanese. One of them is Hannah Weiss, a Jewish 18-year-old who also enlisted when she was 16. She’s managed to use a radio to contact American soldiers, and she and Robert start communicating (and falling in love, of course). When the women are finally liberated, Hannah and Robert finally meet for the first time and continue their relationship in person. He proposes just after the war ends and they get married on his ship. Years later, they have Ned.
1960s: This is the boring section, and it goes on forever. Long story short: Hank Patman is a jerk and won’t leave Ned’s cousin Rachel alone. Ned is upset about how migrant workers are treated, and Hank doesn’t care. Ned, Rachel, and Hank all end up at the same college (and as we know, Alice goes there, too). Ned dates a hippie chick named Rainbow, only she’s not really a hippie; she wanted to get close to Ned by pretending they had hippie things in common, but she really just wants a lawyer boyfriend. I don’t know. Ned saves Alice from drowning and falls for her, but she’s with Hank. Blah, blah, Ned’s side of Alice’s story from the other book, and we all know how it ends.
Thoughts: I know I read this book when I was younger, but the Dancing Wind section is the only part I remember.
So Ned is part Native American and half Jewish – who knew?
Sarah writes stories and wears a watch. Yeah, got it.
Edward and Sarah get “married” by writing their vows on a piece of paper. Grey’s Anatomy totally stole this idea!
Why doesn’t Sarah just tell Ted that she’s his mother and his father’s dead? The lie about being his aunt makes no sense.
Major continuity failure: In Nowhere to Run, Hannah told Emily that when she met Robert, he was widowed and had an 11-year-old son. But in this book, when they first start talking, Robert’s only 16. Big oops there.
February 5, 2011
Summary: This one’s a doozy. It’s the history of Alice’s side of the family (which is why the title makes no sense – they’re not Wakefields):
1866: On the way from Sweden to the U.S., Alice Larson jumps in the ocean to save a boy from drowning but has to be saved herself – by a guy named Theodore Wakefield. They fall in love but are separated when they go through customs in New York.
1884: Alice’s seven-year-old identical twins Elisabeth and Jessamyn Johnson (get it?) go to the circus, where Alice learns there’s a Magnificent Theo W. who takes care of the horses. Oh, and Jessamyn rides a horse.
1893: 16-year-old Jessamyn runs away with the circus to be a bareback rider. Back home in Minnesota, Elisabeth has an old Native American man teach her to ride. When she learns that the man, who also taught Jessamyn to ride, is dying, Elisabeth hops a train to find Jessamyn and bring her home. But first she shows off her riding skills and is killed when she falls off the horse.
1900-1906: Jessamyn manages a hotel in San Francisco and falls in love with two men, Taylor Watson and Bruce (ha!) Farber. She almost chooses Bruce over Taylor but changes her mind when Taylor proves to be less selfish while rescuing people during the great San Francisco earthquake.
1925-1927: Jessamyn and Taylor’s identical twins, Samantha and Amanda Watson, are teenagers living in Detroit when they both fall in love with their brother’s college friend, Ted Wakefield. (Yeah, I know.) Samantha has no idea that Ted and Amanda are interested in each other until she finds a letter Ted wrote to her sister and realizes they’ve been writing to each other for months. She takes Ted to Overlook Valley (no Miller’s Point?) and tries to make out with him, but he tells her he’s in love with Amanda.
So Samantha goes to see her ex-boyfriend, a bootlegger, then dresses up as Amanda and takes Ted to a club he and Amanda had been to earlier that evening. The Feds arrest him there, having been told that Ted’s paying his tuition with money he made from bootlegging. There are bottles in Ted’s car, thanks to Samantha, but they’re not enough evidence for the charges to stick. Still, Ted thinks that Amanda framed him, so that’s over. Amanda figures out what Samantha did and cuts her out of her life.
A few months later, Samantha heads off to Hollywood and becomes a movie star. She also marries a guy named Jack Lewis and has a daughter, Marjorie. The labor is rough and Samantha’s dying, but Amanda shows up in time for them to reconcile. Amanda moves to Sweet Valley (aha!) with Jack and Marjorie to help raise Samantha’s daughter.
1935-1942: Jack and Marjorie move to France while Amanda stays in the States, teaching English at SVH. When the Nazis make life in France too dangerous, Jack sends Marjorie back to Sweet Valley. Before she can go, she learns that the U.S. has entered World War II, Americans in France are now in danger, and Jack has been arrested. Members of the Resistance, including Jack’s girlfriend, hide Marjorie with a Jewish girl named Sophy whose brother, Jacques, is also a member of the Resistance.
Months later, Jacques shows up and gets Marjorie involved in the Resistance; they need someone who’s fluent in both English and French to transmit and receieve coded messages to/from England and the U.S. In a complete non-surprise, Marjorie and Jacques fall in love. One day Marjorie gets word that Sophy has been arrested and that the Nazis are now looking for her. She also learns that Jack is still alive and may have planned his arrest so he could infiltrate a POW camp. (Apparently Alice’s family could give the Bristows a run for their money. Who knew?)
Marjorie decides to offer herself in exchange for Sophy, who Jacques plans to send to the States. When the trade is supposed to be made, Marjorie runs to hop on a train with Sophy, and Jacques is killed. Sophy sends Marjorie to the States in her place since she loves France too much to leave. Back in the U.S., Marjorie marries an American pilot who was shot down in France.
1960s: Hank Patman tries to get Alice Robertson, Marjorie’s daughter, to fall in love with him by arranging a food drop for some fellow protesting college students. She eventually agrees to marry him, but soon spots him with another girl at the beach. The next thing Alice knows, she’s drowning, but she’s saved by…Ned Wakefield. Ned becomes a little stalkerish and keeps showing up where Alice is. She’s still with Hank, though, so he doesn’t pursue anything. On their wedding day, Alice overhears Hank saying he did the food drop as a sort of publicity stunt, and not because he actually cares about anyone other than himself. Alice skips out on the wedding, goes to Ned’s, and the rest is history.
Thoughts: I didn’t read a lot of SVH books when I was younger, but I did read this one, as well as The Wakefield Legacy. I remember wanting to learn more about Prohibition after reading the Amanda/Samantha section.
If Alice Larson had children named Steven, Elisabeth, and Jessamyn, but her husband’s name was George, does that mean Ned isn’t the real father of Alice’s kids? Oh, is George Fowler their father??
16-year-old Elisabeth likes Tom Wilkens. Gag.
Bruce Farber: “Taylor Watson is my rival.” Lame. No one actually says someone is his/her rival.
Samantha says 137! Awesome.
If you took a drink every time the ghostwriter uses ’20s slang in the Amanda/Samantha section, you’d be drunk after ten pages.
Ted writes to Amanda, “Your letters are exquisite agony.” Now we know which side of the family Elizabeth’s sucky writing comes from.
Jessica may be somewhat evil, but she would never do to Elizabeth what Samantha does to Ted and Amanda. She does have a conscience, as small as it is. And Amanda isn’t blameless here – she gets involved with Ted knowing that Samantha’s in love with him.
“‘He was accompanied by a beautiful blonde in a pink dress!’ Why, that almost sounds as if it could be me.” You sure think highly of yourself, don’t you, Amanda?
One of Amanda’s students at SVH is Walter Egbert. Oy.
I’m surprised Hank lets Bruce associate with Jessica and Elizabeth, considering their mother left him at the altar.
No two-year-old knows the word “identical.” And Steven’s not that smart to begin with.
November 26, 2010
Summary: Ned and Alice are still separated after Who’s to Blame? and Trouble at Home. Elizabeth wants to get them back together, but Jessica thinks divorce is awesome, apparently, and wants them to start seeing other people. (Jessica’s complete okay-ness with her parents’ possible split is never really addressed, but it kind of worries me. Mostly it just reiterates what a lot of people have said about her being a sociopath and not caring about anyone but herself.) Elizabeth keeps coming up with dumb, middle-school ways to get her parents to talk or be in the same room, thinking that’s all it’ll take for them to realize they want to get back together.
Jessica first wants to set Ned up with Amanda, a lawyer working on his mayoral campaign (yes, that’s still going on), but that goes down the drain when she finds out Amanda’s engaged. Then she gets Alice to come in for a parent-teacher conference with Mr. Collins, which turns into a dinner/movie date, but it gets awkward when Ned takes the twins to dinner at the same restaurant as the date. Jessica’s final possible match-up for Alice is Ramon, another campaign helper, but he likes his cats too much to listen to what she says about Alice.
While all this is going on, Maria Santelli (whose father’s scandalous exit from the campaign paved the way for Ned to enter it) is suspicious about James Knapp, the guy who worked with Hank Patman to get Ned into the race. She, Elizabeth, and Knapp’s nephew Terry uncover a real-estate-development scheme Knapp is working on, and learn that when Mr. Santelli wouldn’t cooperate with Knapp, Knapp deposited $10,000 into his bank account to make it look like he was accepting kickbacks. And yes, this is all because Knapp wants to build a development and boardwalk on Sweet Valley’s shoreline. Apparently real estate in Sweet Valley is a millionaire’s dream.
Elizabeth, Maria, and Terry formulate a plan to break into Knapp’s office to get evidence, and though it works, when Elizabeth shares the news with Ned, he points out that they can’t really use the evidence because of the way it was obtained. They wind up having to tell the police about an anonymous source finding the evidence. Ned kind of falls apart upon learning that he can’t trust Knapp, and that he’s being used as a pawn, so Elizabeth sends him home to Alice so they can discuss the situation. Nothing happens out of that, but after Ned gives a speech that both exposes Knapp and clears Mr. Santelli’s name, apparently the senior Wakefields decide all is good and reunite. Also, Mr. Santelli is elected mayor, as if we care.
Thoughts: You can tell the position of mayor of Sweet Valley is really important because Ned gives a speech at the mall.
Ramon is a liaison to Sweet Valley’s Hispanic community. As far as I know, that community only consists of him, so he must have a pretty easy job.
Ned gets a slow clap. Awesome.