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neither fish nor fowler

So I bet you've all been wondering what happened in The Fowlers of Sweet Valley since I brought it to your collective attention. You haven't? Well, I'm going to tell you anyway, because not only was it fantastically ridiculous, but it also contradicted lots of the SVH canonical lore, such as the Fowler family being upstarts in our favourite southern California town. Because really, Lila's paternal grandfather was the famed mayor of Sweet Valley for, like, sixty years, and hence was actually established there longer than the snooty Patmans.

BUT that's not one of the juicy parts of Fowler family history. When I last reported, Lila's ancestor had been dumped on the outskirts of Paris. Sadly, my hopes that she would soon be joining the ranks of Paris's courtesans were dashed when she decided to become a poor but honest seamstress. Despite the fact that at this stage the reign of terror was in full swing and the mob were waving the head of Marie Antoinette's best friend outside the imprisoned queen's window, in Lili's world Paris is still full of lace-bedecked toffs, one of which she marries. But OH NOES! It is a FAKE MARRIAGE and he disappears and leaves her with nothing except a soon-to-arrive baby, which poor old Lili delivers and then promptly dies. So the baby is brought up by a kindly baker and his wife, and then shipped off to be a servant at the house of yet another toff who has somehow managed to survive the revolution without fecking off to England or being rescued by the Scarlet Pimpernel or whatever.

And who should be a friend of Toff2 but George Oisleur, who of course was the mystery man who saved Lili from the guillotine which the peasants had conveniently acquired for their rustic death field. And he also managed to save the deeds to Lili's lands, so eventually he discovers that this delightful serving wench who has fallen in love with the son of Toff2 is actually the daughter of his old love, and he gives her the deeds and she is now rich and she and Toff Junior get married and live happily ever after. Hurrah! I thought it was going to get a bit creepy and Mr Oisleur (WHY, WHAT COULD THAT NAME MEAN IN ENGLISH, COULD IT BE......FOWLER????!!!!!) was going to fall for his ex's daughter, but thank Jesus that didn't happen.

So Daughter-of-Lili-whose-name-I-can't-remember-nor-be-arsed-to-look-up-even- though-the-book-is-literally-two -feet-away-me-as-I-write and Toff2 have a kid called Rose, who is a feisty young feminist and who has a bond with Pierre, the grandson of the aforementioned George Oisleur. Pierre fancies her, but she is too busy being a feisty young feminist and says she will never marry. But then she realises that she fancies him too. But it is too late, for he has buggered off and married someone else. Oh noes! That'll teach you, feisty young feminist! Luckily she meets a nice lefty photographer and marries him and becomes a famous novelist, but still. And of course she loses touch with Pierre.

So feisty no-longer-young feminist Rose and the photographer have a daughter called Isabelle, and here is where the story gets a bit saucy. WW1 is about to start (and you know I'm looking forward to what the author will do with this, having read the highly accurate depiction of the French Revolution) Isabelle meets a handsome young officer called...Jacques Oisleur. Yes! He is the son, or grandson, or nephew (again, can't be arsed looking it up in the book that is almost in arm's reach - sorry, readers) of Pierre. There is an instant attraction, although Jacques's nice but boring friend Charles Doret fancies Isabelle too, and after some highly anachronistic flirting Jacques and Isabelle have a SECRET MARRIAGE! And yes, it is consummated. Ooh-er. Anyway, Jacques goes off to war and gets blown up, and, believing that she will never know real love again, Isabelle decides to marry Charles. So they get hitched, and have a kid, and then who should turn up but Jacques. For he was mistakenly reported dead, and is alive and kicking! Well, alive and limping. And he takes one look at Isabelle the bigamist and runs off, far, far away....to a town called.....SWEET VALLEY, CALIFORNIA.

Where, by complete coincidence, Isabelle and her not-legal-husband Charles (fake marriages obviously run in the family) repair some time later. Isabelle is willing to leave Charles for her old love (and legal spouse), but his manly pride has been wounded so he tells her to fuck off. Not least because he has married someone else (bigamy is the norm in this place) And so begins a terrible feud between the Oisleurs - who have now anglicised their name to Fowler - and the Dorets, and Charles becomes the mayor of SV and uses his powers to destroy the Fowler's farm, so they become poor while the Dorets are the royal family of the town. Rather like the, um, Patmans. Anyway! On to the next generation. Actually, it's the generation-after-next. Whatever.

Here's George Fowler, struggling to set up his computer business (yes, the silicon chip empire that financed Lila's lime green Triumph and snazzy outfits!). And here is young Grace Doret. The star-crossed lovers eventually overcome parental feudin' and fussin' and get married. And here is where everything gets fucked up.

Basically, George turns into a creepy psychological abuser - he won't let Grace contact her parents, even when her grandmother (Isabelle) is dying, and when she rebels against him he takes baby Lila away from her and forces her to drop all contact with her daughter and basically destroys her life. It's pretty horrendous. So she goes off to Paris and now - gasp - we cut to Sweet Valley in the present day, shortly after John Pfeifer's attempted rape of Lila, in fact, as documented in that famed SVH novel 'Don't Go Home with John' (by the way, when I lived with my friend John, that book was displayed on our mantlepiece adorned with a post-it above the title, on which John had written "There is no reason that anyone would ever say or even think..." which was pretty funny. Anyway!). So George realises that perhaps depriving Lila of any contact with a loving, decent parent wasn't a great thing to do, so he summons his old love to Sweet Valley, and there he realises that he still loves her, and she, the big fool, realises the same thing, so with a frankly inadequate apology for being a nutjob, the couple reconcile and the book's grand finale is a big fancy wedding, with Lila as bridesmaid, her post-attempted-rape trauma completely eradicated by the sight of her mother returning to the man who kicked her out of the house and forbid her to ever see her child again because she commited the terrible crime of ringing her own parents. What a happy ending! Ah, Sweet Valley.

So that's what happened in The Fowlers of Sweet Valley. I read so you don't have to.

In non-SVH news, last night we reluctantly bid farewell to seriouspenguin and the Penguin Consort, but not until we had eaten our own weight in ma po tofu and twice-cooked pork in the fantastic little Chinese restaurant off Capel Street. Mmmmmmmm, twice-cooked pork. I practically had be rolled out the door, and I believe seriouspenguin took a photo of the ravaged table so you'll soon be able to see evidence of this feast for yourself.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
stephencass
Feb. 28th, 2006 04:14 pm (UTC)
All this mucking about with two bloodlines who keep running into each other but never seem to get it together is strangely reminiscent of the Samms and the Kinnisons in E.E. Doc Smith's Lensman series. Could it be that events in Sweet Valley, and elsewhere, are actually the results of manipulations by a mysterious race of alien superbeings attempting to develop the ultimate psychic weapon with which to obliterate the galaxy's darkest foe?[1]

[1]If B5 fans think that conjectured plotline sounds familiar too, well, Smith is to space opera as Tolkein is to fantasy epic.
starfishchick
Feb. 28th, 2006 04:29 pm (UTC)
Hee, thanks for the recap! (And I have not forgotten my promise to search the bowels of the family house - and my storage locker - for The Wakefields of Sweet Valley!
jane_dark
Feb. 23rd, 2007 05:00 pm (UTC)
This is hilarious, and I am so delighted that I stumbled onto it (and your Patmans of Sweet Valley write-up. In any case, for whatever reason, I ended up googling SV, and found this rather amusing scholarly review on the series from the "Assembly on Literature for Adolescents."

Best sentence:

"One early Thriller plot has Elizabeth playing the "had I but known" role in a modern Gothic romance reminiscent of R. L. Stine."

Although the whole last paragraph is really beyond words. In any case -- your write-up is hilarious. Thank you.
dirtywingsgirl
Oct. 2nd, 2007 01:35 pm (UTC)
Do you think Rose's lost love Pierre is an ancestor of Grace's
annoying boyfriend Pierre who returns with Grace to Sweet Valley?
...Yeah, I didn't think so either =P But I love the ghostwriter's
lack of creativity in their French name picking.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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