February 5, 2011

SVH Saga, The Wakefields of Sweet Valley: Except They’re Not Wakefields

Posted in books tagged , , , , at 10:38 pm by Jenn

Chill out, lower-right-corner twin

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.


  1. kate said,

    I love the legacy of poor decision making and heartless actions. Very wonderful.

    I’ve read all of your recaps on this blog, and this book– this book I really want to find a copy of. A century plus of awful melodrama!

  2. bscag said,

    Looks like someone was trying to establish identical twins running the family…too bad it’s FRATERNAL twins that run in families while identicals are pure chance.

    • Jenn said,

      Exactly. This is just a family of freaks.

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