June 2, 2015
SVT #32, Jessica on Stage: Why Are There So Many Famous People in Sweet Valley?
Summary: Alice and the twins get into a fender-bender with an elderly woman named Mrs. Harrington, who complains of neck pain and make them take her to the hospital. Jessica has no compassion and is worried about missing a Unicorn meeting. Elizabeth is, of course, much nicer, and worries about Mrs. Harrington, who lives by herself and seems lonely. She even takes Mrs. H. some flowers, despite how mean Mrs. Harrington was to the Wakefields. Fortunately, Mrs. H. is actually a very nice woman, and she apologizes for her behavior.
Jessica has been watching a lot of old movies to feed her new interest in acting, and she discovers that Mrs. H. is actually onetime screen star Dolores Dufay. She and her husband were in a bunch of movies together but I guess never got super-famous, even though Mr. H. was nominated for an Oscar. Mrs. H. stopped acting a long time ago, and her husband died years earlier, so she’s been out of the public eye for a while.
The twins go back to visit Mrs. H. and discover that her house was broken into while she was in the hospital. The burglar stole some jewelry, but nothing else that was all that valuable, other than sentimentally. The twins help her clean up, since she’s recovering from the accident. I’m hugely surprised that Jessica’s willing to do something like this, and I doubt she would if Mrs. H. weren’t famous.
The police are useless in the investigation, since there are no leads and nothing of great value was taken. But the twins are upset that Mrs. H. lost a scrapbook full of mementos from her acting career. They decide to find it themselves. They search some secondhand shops in Sweet Valley (apparently there are a lot) but don’t have any luck.
Jessica tries to brainstorm ways to help Mrs. H. feel better. Steve suggests getting her a dog – and a friend of his just happens to have some puppies he’s giving away. Jess drags Elizabeth to get one, ignoring Liz when she points out that Mrs. H. might not like dogs or want a pet. And of course, that’s exactly what happens. The puppy is too energetic for an old woman to look after, so the twins have to return him.
By the way, there’s a lame B-plot about Amy and Belinda finding a kitten, which Elizabeth takes home and names Mischief. It’s pretty obvious where the kitten will end up by the end of the book, yes?
Jess finds out about an acting workshop in town, and when Mrs. H. learns how interested she is in acting, she encourages Jessica to take part. Jess is like, “I want to be famous but I also want to sleep past 9.” Oh, the sacrifices we make for our dreams. Jessica loves the workshop, and as Mrs. H. helps her rehearse, she starts getting interested in acting again. Jessica invites her to the dress rehearsal of the performance everyone is giving at the end of the workshop, hoping that Lila and Ellen will also come and be jealous that Jess is friends with a movie star.
While shopping at a flea market for a prop for Jessica’s performance, the twins stumble across Mrs. H.’s scrapbook. They take it to the police station, along with the license plate number of the person who sold it to them. It turns out the guy has committed numerous robberies, and the twins have brought down a criminal. They decide to surprise Mrs. H. with the scrapbook at Jessica’s performance.
But there’s a problem: Jessica’s scene partner, Martin, has a huge case of stage fright. He drops out just hours before the performance. Mrs. H. to the rescue! She knows Martin’s role, as she’s done the scene before, so she steps in and acts with Jessica. Apparently no one cares that an old woman is playing the role of a young boy. After the performance, Mrs. H. announces that she’s going to get back into acting. Good luck finding a role in Hollywood for a woman over 40. The twins give her the scrapbook and the kitten. I know, I was surprised, too!
Thoughts: Steven’s friend Joe has German Shepherd puppies and just gives them away. An Internet search tells me that German Shepherds can fetch (heh) $1,500+. Joe should stop being so generous and start making some money.
Elizabeth lets Jessica get a dog for Mrs. H. without asking if she actually wants one. Then she brings the kitten to Jessica’s dress rehearsal. When did Elizabeth get so dumb?
Once again, the police in Sweet Valley suck. Someone should write a new series where Elizabeth, Maria Slater, and Nina become cops as adults and work with Nick to take down all the criminals in town.