A 30-something's lovingly sarcastic journey through all of Sweet Valley High, and then some

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Magna Edition #2/Sweet Valley Saga #2 The Wakefield Legacy: The Untold Story

The second Sweet Valley Saga which is also the second Magna Edition ... is that confusing?

Here we are with the second Sweet Valley Saga, at long last. I feel like I’ve waded through an ocean of shitty stories to get to this one. This time, we’ll be following Ned Wakefield’s ancestors as part of the glorious story of the most important and perfect family on planet Earth. We’ve already met some of the Wakefield men who appear here in the previous Saga, because as we know, Ned and Alice were fated to be together!

1866. In Wakefield, England (yes, you read that correctly – Wakefield, England!), Theodore, the 16th Earl of Wakefield, and wife Lady Sarah Quinlan, Countess of Wakefield, live in Wakefield Manor with their two sons. Older son and heir James, the 15th Viscount Leslie, is 26 and set to marry a 16-year-old German girl he doesn’t love, Katerina von Alber, who is staying with the family up until the wedding. Younger son Lord Theodore “Theo” Wakefield resents the way James is openly disdainful to Katerina and ignores her, but also feels sad that James is being forced into the marriage. He is relieved he isn’t the heir. Theo and Katerina have a casual friendship that is her only source of comfort. Katerina has fallen kinda hard for Theo but he doesn’t appear to return her feelings beyond caring for her deeply as a friend. So, neither the brother Katerina has to marry, nor the one she wishes she could marry, love her. Well that’s gotta suck.

James, Theo, and Katerina are out riding one day when Theo confronts his brother about the way he treats Katerina and how he should just stand up to their parents and tell them he won’t be forced into marriage. James tells him off and then leaps onto Theo’s horse, Raven, and gallops away wildly. Raven throws James and he smashes against a stone wall and dies. After the funeral, the Earl announces that now Theo is the heir and as such, he must marry Katerina in James’s place. Theo refuses because he doesn’t love her and it’s wrong. Katerina secretly wishes Theo would marry her, but she knows his heart isn’t in it, so she encourages him to leave his family and go out to the plains of America, which he’s babbling about for weeks. So Theo disowns his family while Lady Sarah cries and begs him not to go. He takes off on Raven for London and Katerina presumably goes back to her family (in the Prussian part of Germany).

Theo sells Raven to get the money for a steamer for New York. While on board the steamer, he rescues Alice Larson from drowning after she falls overboard, and they fall in love, bla bla, just like we read about in the first Saga. We learn that Theo carved that famous Wakefield wooden rose for Alice because it was Wakefield tradition to propose to a woman by giving her a diamond-encrusted gold rose, but now this is the best he can do. Well isn’t that special. God, diamond-encrusted gold rose … are these the Wakefields or the Patmans? What in hell.

After they’re separated in NYC due to Theo’s suspected typhus and subsequent quarantine on Ward’s Island, Theo vows he will never rest until he’s found her. Good luck with that, Theo.

1884. Theo is now an animal trainer and member of the traveling Bellamy Brothers Circus and friend to Dancing Wind, a 16-year-old part Awaswan Indian girl. Theo has named a new foal Raven after his beloved lost horse. When the circus is stopped in Pine Bluff, Illinois, the two get closer and began sharing more details of their lives with each other. Dancing Wind explains how she became a Montecatini, which she usually doesn’t share with people. She was adopted by the Flying Montecatinis Italian acrobat family at age 12. Her mother Owl Feather died of smallpox when she was very little, and her father was killed four years ago after being shot to death in a saloon brawl. Now Dancing Wind is an acrobat herself. She stays in a cabin on the circus train with her adopted sister Isabella, also 16, who has a huge crush on some circus muscle man named Henrik and is always cooing about him. Theo decides to trust his new friend as well, and he tells Dancing Wind about his long-lost love, Alice. Dancing Wind realizes she has major feelings for Theo. She decides not to tell Isabella about her crush because Isabella has a big mouth and will tell everyone else.

When the circus is stopped in Blackberry Hollow, Iowa, Theo almost kisses Dancing Wind after she tells him he should stop living in the past. But they are interrupted by Isabella calling for her. You know, at this point Theo has to be in his 40s or at the very youngest his late 30s. It’s been 18 years since he left England. It didn’t say how old he was there, but his brother was 26 and Theo was close to him, so he couldn’t have been THAT much younger.

When the circus stops in Prairie Lakes, Minnesota, little 7-year-old Jessamyn Johnson sneaks in to see the horses and ride one of them. When Theo learns that Jessamyn’s mother is Swedish, he becomes convinced that her mother must be Alice. Of course, he’s right, but he doesn’t know for sure. He becomes preoccupied with finding Alice. Dancing Wind’s heart is broken. Determined to get Theo’s attention back on her during the acrobats’ segment of the show, she performs a daring triple-somersault in the air, when she was only supposed to do a double-flip. Her adopted father Guillermo isn’t prepared for this and can’t catch her in time. Dancing Wind crashes through the safety net and badly breaks her hip. Theo rushes to her and thinks he sees Alice in the crowd, but is too busy looking after Dancing Wind to really look hard. He realizes he doesn’t really love Alice anymore, and even if he did, it’s too late. As Dancing Wind lies in bed recovering from her injury, he confesses he loves her, not Alice.

When the circus stops in Cottonwood Creek, Nebraska, some time later, we learn that Dancing Wind is still crippled. She will never be able to perform stunts again. Deciding she’s holding Theo back, she takes her stuff off the train and gets ready to leave. Theo catches her and throws his own bag off the train. He asks Dancing Wind to marry him and she happily accepts.

1888. Theo and Dancing Wind have settled in Cottonwood Creek and live on a farm, where she announces she’s pregnant. Theo is concerned because his wife is still so weak. On their fourth wedding anniversary, Dancing Wind has a very painful childbirth experience and has twins. (Of course!) She tells Theo to name them Sarah and James after his lost family members, and dies immediately afterwards. This is right after the doctor, Dr. Baker, and the midwife, Felicity, have packed up and left. What the hell? It seemed like as soon as the babies were born, they were all, “Okay, we’re out of here. Good luck with your wife, she might die.”

1905. Theo and the twins now live in Vista, California, in the Napa Valley, where Theo has made a fortune in the wine business. Their home is called Manor Farm in memory of Wakefield Manor, Theo’s original homestead in England.

James is the older twin and he’s supposed to be serious and responsible (like Liz) while Sarah is supposed to be the irresponsible, wild twin who’s always in trouble (like Jess). Yet Sarah likes to write and hates the thought of lying to her father; she just has occasional mishaps and is a little more free-spirited than James, so she’s not much like her future great-great-granddaughter Jessica (but she’s much more likable than Elizabeth). When Sarah falls in love with one of her father’s employees – a boy in her class named Edward Brooke – she brings him to the house to meet Theo and James so that she can formally introduce him as a suitor. But while James already thinks Edward is awesome, her father doesn’t approve and barely speaks to Edward. Theo thinks Edward’s lower class status makes him beneath his daughter. He wants Sarah to try to get snobby rich George LeMaitre to court her instead. But Sarah keeps on seeing Edward behind Theo’s back, and soon Edward gives her a promise ring with the idea that they will marry after they graduate from high school. James is the only person Sarah trusts with their secret. Inspired by the journal of her deceased mother, Dancing Wind, Sarah has been writing a lot of fiction in her own journal, but now that she’s fallen for Edward, she eagerly writes all about their romance and plans for the future. Mega-foreshadowing here …

That autumn, influenza comes to the town, and both James and Sarah are stricken with it. But while Sarah recovers in a few days, James’s condition worsens and turns into pneumonia, and he soon dies in front of Sarah. What’s with all the deaths so far this early in the novel? I don’t remember the last book being quite this bad. Theo has already lost his brother, his wife, and his son, damn.

1906. It’s now April, and Sarah and Theo have been recovering from their grief over James’s death. One day Sarah comes home from school to find Theo sitting with her journal, and he looks furious. Gasp! He’s read it! HE KNOWS! And he tells Sarah if she won’t stop seeing Edward Brooke, she’ll have to leave his house. Damn! Sarah reminds her father that he once left his own family so he wouldn’t have to marry a girl he didn’t love, but Theo isn’t swayed. He even implies Sarah might have been sleeping with Edward, which hasn’t happened. Theo has turned into his dad. And that night, after he’s gone to bed, Sarah packs a bag and heads to Edward’s house. When he hears what’s happened, they take off on a train for San Francisco to elope. They get there around 4 in the morning and check into a fancy hotel so that they have a place to stay for the wedding night. As they’re preparing to wash up and get ready to go see a justice of the peace as soon as daylight comes, the Great San Francisco Earthquake of April 18, 1906 strikes. The hotel falls down around Edward and Sarah and when it’s over, they’re trapped in a small area of the rubble. Sarah cries that they will die without ever having been married and Edward “marries” them in their own ceremony to make up for it. They even write their vows down on a piece of paper. Then they start kissing and he asks her if they should stop. She says no. We get a skip-ahead where Sarah is thankful they at least had “this moment” and then rescuers arrive and save them. Sarah and Edward are taken to a nearby park where Edward insists on leaving her to help the rescuers. Edward saves a baby from the collapsed hotel, but then an aftershock sends him tumbling down from the rubble onto his head. The baby is fine, but Edward is dead. Sarah cries as her husband’s body is lead away. What the hell is up with this book! It’s so sad!

Edward’s parents come to get his body and take Sarah back with them. They are totally understanding of what happened and accept Sarah as Edward’s widow. When Sarah heads back to her home at Manor Farm, Theo even appears not to hold their elopement against Sarah, although he doesn’t apologize for essentially kicking his daughter out of his house.

Two months later, Sarah is still feeling sick and dizzy and having nightmares of the earthquake. Her father takes her to see Dr. Daly, who informs Sarah she’s pregnant with her late husband’s child. When Sarah tells Theo, he’s delighted and says Sarah will have to try and get the marriage certificate from San Francisco if it wasn’t destroyed in the quake. But then she confesses that she and Edward were never legally married, only by their own little “ceremony.” Theo flies into a rage. He says now the child will have neither the Brooke name nor the Wakefield name because of this. He seriously implies she is some kind of slut. What the fuck Theo! The next day, he orders his daughter to pack her bags and sends her off to a maternity home for unwed mothers in the town of Mendocino. There she will pick up a key for a house he has rented for her overlooking the cliffs. A doctor will tend to Sarah until after her baby is born. Theo will tell everyone at home that Sarah went away to get rest and therapy for her earthquake trauma. He will explain to the ladies at the maternity home that Sarah is a young traumatized widow. It’s too shameful for Sarah to have the baby at home in Vista. I don’t get it. Hey Theo, here’s an idea – why not just tell everyone that the baby is the child of Sarah’s deceased husband if you’re so worried about it? What in hell? Tell them the marriage certificate was in fact lost in the fucking earthquake! You big asshole! God, it’s too bad Dancing Wind isn’t still around. I bet she wouldn’t stand for this.

1907. Sarah gives birth to her son, Edward “Teddy” Wakefield, on New Year’s Day. She writes to Theo and tells him, and he shows up and isn’t happy that Teddy is short for Edward and not Theodore. Cry me a fucking river dude. Theo won’t look at or acknowledge the baby, and he announces that he will take Sarah home with him, but she’ll have to leave Teddy behind. Theo will arrange to have Teddy adopted. Sarah refuses, and he says that’s fine but she can never set foot in Manor Farm again, and he will just make sure they have all the money they need for the rest of their lives. Sarah tells him she doesn’t want his stinkin’ money if he won’t accept either of them into his life. Theo walks away and that’s the last they ever see of him. That’s right, he basically learned nothing from his past. He wants nothing to do with his daughter and grandson, the last remaining pieces of his family, after all the other family members he had are all dead. Holy crap. Theo is such a fucking jackass. So Sarah resolves to raise her baby under the lie that she is his Aunt Sarah, in order to spare him the pain of being an illegitimate child. I don’t get it. Can’t you just tell him the truth, that your “husband” was killed in the earthquake? You can leave out the whole “not legally binding” part if you’re so worried about it. It’s not like the people he meets later in life will go rummaging around for his parents’ marriage certificate before they agree to hang out with him.

1924. It’s the 1920s and Prohibition is in full effect. Ted Wakefield is now in high school and living with his “Aunt Sarah” in Chicago. He’s a successful writer for his school paper and college-bound. He believes that his grandfather is dead, and that his parents were named James and Edwina Wakefield, and that they died in a train crash and James’s sister Sarah decided to raise him. Sarah works really hard to make ends meet, so Ted takes on a job as a waiter at the Black Cat Cafe, a jazz club, to pay his way into college. Sarah has reservations about the job, but lets him take it.

At the club, Ted makes friends with jazz saxophonist Emmet “Slim” Stark and his daughter, vocalist Tina Stark. Ted and Tina are soon hopping all over town together, but there isn’t anything romantic between them. They make good friends and Tina teaches Ted all about the jazz scene. Ted loves it. Tina is African American, but there is no mention of the pair encountering any trouble or discrimination in the segregated 1920s when they go out in public together. Tina encourages Ted to write articles about the jazz world and submit them to the Chicago Post, and the paper accepts one of his pieces for publication. Ted decides to blow off his acceptance into Rosse College in Ohio and become a jazz writer instead, living the clubbin’ life. His “Aunt Sarah” is not pleased. Ted snaps at her that she isn’t his mother and shouldn’t act like it. WHOA DAMN.

Ted comes home from a jazz club one night to find Aunt Sarah holding a letter and obviously upset. She explains to Ted that his grandfather has died, and he’s left the two of them all his money in his will. Ted is confused because he thought his grandfather was already dead. Sarah is forced to confess the truth. She gives stunned Ted Theo’s family crest ring, which he’d saved from his days at Wakefield Manor, and Dancing Wind’s journal. Ted is furious and blames Sarah for keeping his grandfather from him all his life. He decides to leave for college after all, packs his things, and leaves.

1925. One year later, Ted has forgiven his mother, pledged into a fraternity, pen pals with his old friend Tina, and best friends with wealthy, friendly Harry Watson. He still hides the truth of his birth from everyone to avoid being ostracized. Harry’s girlfriend Stella wants to know why Harry is still single since he’s such a big man on campus, and Harry thinks about how he just doesn’t want anyone to get too close and find out the truth. In Detroit, Ted meets Harry’s twin sisters Amanda and Samantha, and falls in love with Amanda even though everyone thinks it’s Sam Ted wants, including Sam herself. If you’ve read the first Saga or my recap of it, then you know how this goes down. The book skims over most of it but reminds us how Amanda told Ted she’d finally let Sam know about their secret love when she hadn’t. Then we get treated to the final showdown in which Sam, posing as Amanda, sets Ted up to get arrested by the Feds for bootlegging liquor, which he wasn’t really doing, of course. (Sam just wanted to get back at Ted for rejecting her and secretly seeing her sister instead.) Ted goes to jail and gets out thinking his true love Amanda planted the liquor because she thought Ted tried to seduce Sam, and when the Feds let him go because they figured out it was a setup, he leaves town thinking Amanda is the worst person ever. I can’t believe he never put two and two together. He drops out of school and takes off on a “find myself” kind of journey.

1926. Near the end of a lengthy road trip across the U.S., Ted arrives in Swift River, Oregon, where he crashes at a little run-down place called the Last Chance Lodge. He tells the owner, Dick Dawson, and some of his friends all about his journey to find his grandmother’s Awaswan family. He drinks some illegal beer that Dick offers him, although of course the book assures us that he hesitates before doing so, so that we won’t think Ted is in the habit of breaking the law or something. You’d think maybe he wouldn’t even want to look at it after that scare the Feds gave him. Anyway, Dick loans Ted his mule, Pete, and Ted takes off for the Awaswan reservation, where he meets the Chief, Ten Horses. Ten Horses is in the middle of an interview with a pretty blond journalist named Julia Marks. Ted asks Ten Horses for information on Dancing Wind’s mother, Owl Feather. It turns out that Ten Horses knows all about Owl Feather – in fact, the whole tribe does. She was born sometime in the 1840s to the Awaswan medicine man, Red Spirit. It was believed that if Red Spirit’s prettiest daughter married Chief Fist-of-Thunder, great luck would come to the Awaswan, who were at the time first starting to lose their land to whites. So Owl Feather was supposed to save her people, but then she fell in love with a white prospector named Jake Webster instead, and she ran away and married him and had Dancing Wind and the Awaswan lost most of their land and were forced onto a reservation. Ted is like, “Oh shit, sorry.”

Ten Horses tells Ted that maybe they can reverse their luck again now that Owl Feather’s descendant has come, along with the help of “Paper Voices” which is the name he’s given Julia. It turns out Julia is on a mission to find a missing treaty that shows the land does belong to the Awaswan and the neighboring Yakima Indians. Iron ore has been found in the land, and a company just went ahead and started mining for it. Ten Horses and the Yakima Chief, Bear Paw, protested this. But the representative for the U.S. Government, Frank Foster, claimed he couldn’t find the treaty even though there are supposed to be two copies, and therefore it never existed. Of course, that is bullshit. Ted and Julia go see Frank and bluff that they have a third copy and freak Frank out. He dumbly takes out a folder and says they can look at what’s in there if he can look at the third copy that they have. Instead, Ted and Julia run off with the real treaty. Frank and another crony chase them and try to run their car off of a cliff, but the bad guys wind up going over instead. Ted pulls them out of the car just before it explodes, showing his good nature. Julia realizes she is in love with him and vows to win his heart.

Julia invites Ted to ride the train with her to D.C., where they will stay with friends of Julia’s rich family and go sightseeing. They have a good time, but when Ted realizes Julia has feelings for him, he tells her the story of stupid Amanda, who made him decide love’s not worth it or something. Oh, for fuck’s sake! The Vaughns have a dance and Ted and Julia wind up kissing in the backyard, but he kind of freaks out. Julia isn’t having it. She yells at him and tells him she would make the perfect wife and he knows it, and that it’s time for him to get over Amanda and stop giving up on life. You tell ‘im Jules! Ted realizes he loves her.

1927. Ted and Julia are married and they buy a brownstone in New York City, where Julia is employed as the “Citywatch” columnist for the New York Chronicle newspaper and Ted writes for the New Yorker magazine. While they’re looking at the house, Julia tells Ted she’s pregnant. Later that same year, she gives birth to their son, Robert. Julia shows Ted an article that says Samantha Watson, the up-and-coming Hollywood actress, has died in childbirth. Ted feels grateful that Julia’s birthing experience went just fine. He also feels terrible because he knew Sam, but he doesn’t “see any reason” to tell Julia that Samantha was Amanda’s twin and that he knew her. Why not? Is that not weird? Well, whatever.

1937. Robert “Bob” Wakefield is now nine and has a happy home life with his mother and father. Then Julia gets a major assignment to cover the rise of Nazi Germany from Berlin. Ted and Bob don’t want her to go and have bad feelings about it. I guess we can see where this is going. Julia thinks this will be her major big break. She starts sending Ted and Bob letters from Germany about some of the atrocities she has witnessed. Soon she writes that she can’t say much more because her letters are likely being read by government censors. Sure enough, her last letter that says she’s coming home has several areas blacked out. Ted and Bob go to meet Julia’s airship the Hindenberg coming in and watch as it explodes and disintegrates with Julia inside. Whoa, dude.

Julia’s journal survives the fire, and Ted reads it and learns about the horrors being committed against Jews and how Hitler has plans to take over Europe and build his “perfect Aryan race.” Not long after, Kristallnacht occurs and the world learns the truth. Ted realizes that Julia “would indeed have broken the big one.”

This book is so sad!

1943. Bob is now 16 and he lies about his age to enlist in the Navy and get shipped off to World War II. When he breaks the news to his dad, Ted is furious, but ultimately decides to let his son go because his stubbornness is “in the blood.”

Later that year, Bob is on the aircraft carrier Richmond in the South Pacific as a communications specialist. He’s assigned to communicate back and forth over the radio as “Sea Eagle” with an anonymous spy with alias “Pacific Star”. The spy is currently being held captive on the island of Mindanao.

The spy’s real name is Hannah Weiss, an American, Jewish nurse whose family was originally from Austria. When she was 16, she lied about her age to join the Army as a nurse. Sound familiar? Now she’s actually 18, and she lives in the POW camp with her fellow nurses, Debbie Houghton, Joan Madden, Pam Baird, and Nettie MacAllister. Hannah keeps her radio buried under some reeds near a stream that the nurses are allowed to swim in on washday, which is once a week. Debbie, who’s one flirty girl, distracts the Japanese guard while Hannah gets her radio and broadcasts to Robert. It’s his first day as her new contact. Hannah introduces herself and explains that she’s been a POW since May 1942.

I love war stories, especially WWII stories, which is odd because I hate war.

1944. The Richmond begins a liberation mission against another Japanese-occupied island. Japanese pilots kamikaze the Richmond and sister ship the Springfield, which sinks. After a pilot hits the Richmond, shrapnel flies everywhere and Bob’s best friend, Jason Carter, is killed. Bob’s spirits sink low, but he is later revived by the news that the liberation of Nazi-occupied France has begun.

Hannah hears the Japanese guards talking about how they plan to leave the Philippines less guarded while they beef up enforcements at Mindanao, because they think the U.S. is going to strike there first. This time on wash day, it’s Pam’s turn to distract the guards. She does so by falling flat on her face in the water and having the other girls run around screaming that she’s drowning. Hannah rushes to relay the information to Sea Eagle and she almost gets caught with the radio before she can rebury it. The guard tells her she’s “too much trouble” and “no more walks by the stream.”

It is interesting that this book talks about how the nurses were treated so well by the Japanese soldiers. In reality, Japan treated its POWs absolutely horrid during World War II. I’m not a WWII expert (so if you are, please weigh in), but the Palawan Massacre and the Bataan Death March are just a few of the more famous examples. Japan (at the time) was also notorious for starvation and horrendous forced labor conditions. These atrocities were well-known. But who knows, maybe women were treated differently …? I can only hope so. Today, of course, Japan and the United States are allies and friends.

1945. The Allies attack Mindanao and the Japanese guards drag Hannah and her fellow nurses into the jungle on an exhausting journey. A firefight and shelling breaks out all around them and Hannah sees Marines coming at her and her friends and thinks they’re going to shoot her. The Marines save the nurses and take them back to the ship where Hannah finally meets Bob in person. They are already in love from having chatted over the airwaves. They get engaged on the same day that the war ends.

Some years later. It’s the holidays in Sweet Valley. Hannah and Bob are now married and have a son, Edward, whom they call Ned for short. They live in Sweet Valley near Hannah’s parents, Larry and Lise Weiss, and Hannah’s older brother, Sam, and his wife Ruth, who have a daughter Ned’s age, named Rachel. Sarah, Ted’s mother, still lives in Chicago and has married a man named Joe Mayne. Ted has never remarried and is still in New York.

We learn Hannah’s family lost her cousins in the concentration camps in Austria during the war. The cousins’ parents, Hannah’s Uncle Karl and Aunt Berthe, survived the camps and still live in Austria.

Early 1960s. Ned and Rachel are 16 and students at Sweet Valley High along with Hank Patman, whom nobody can stand. Hank keeps harassing Rachel and trying to get her to go out with him. He’s just like his future son Bruce. Rachel hangs out with her cousin Ned and his friend Seth. Both boys love to surf and listen to the Beach Boys. On their way home from the beach, Ned meets a migrant worker his age named Salvador who says he doesn’t go to school. Ned is horrified and soon learns that migrant workers’ children are in fact not allowed to attend public school alongside the year-round residents’ students. Ned and Rachel are both on the student council, so they try to get the other student council members – Hank Patman, Mary Baker, Shirley, Kent, and Stan – to agree with them so they can present something formal to the Board of Education asking to change the law. Mary agrees with them, but Hank doesn’t, and he sways the rest of the group to his side. Ned is enraged and inspired to continue to fight injustice, encouraged by his dad Bob.

Rachel, Seth, Hank, and Ned all graduate and head off to the College of Southern California later on in the 60s. I find it hard to believe they wouldn’t just all go to Sweet Valley College, haha. Rachel rooms with two girls named Barbara and Judy her freshman year. They have a nice suite in the dorms. What is up with all these kids getting nice suites and giant dorm rooms in books and on TV shows? I definitely didn’t have that! Is this some norm I just don’t know about? Luxurious dormitory conditions?

A snotty judge’s daughter named Becky Foster used to be friends with Rachel, but she dropped her early in the semester when she realized Rachel wasn’t going to help her go out with Ned. Suddenly Becky reappears calling herself “Rainbow”, dressing as a flower child, and caring about social issues. She organizes protests and leads students in a group called SPAN, and whatnot and catches Ned’s eye easily. Oh, and it turns out she’s also got Awaswan Indian blood. Ned and Rainbow start dating seriously and he helps her with her difficult pre-law homework. Rachel is sure Rainbow is a big fake, but Ned won’t listen and gives her the whole “I’m disappointed in you” speech for daring to question Rainbow’s integrity. That’s so annoying.

But then the day comes when SPAN holds a huge protest outside the president’s office at the school, demanding that he formally denounce the developing war in Vietnam. Ned takes Rainbow to the protest but she seems less than enthused. Fights break out between cops and students and the cops tear gas the crowd. As Ned and Rainbow are coughing and hacking, police officers randomly arrest them and throw them in a van. Rainbow bitches him out and blames him for getting them arrested. She exposes her true self – she only wanted to date Ned because she was hoping he’d help her become an honors student or some bullshit – and Ned is devastated. When they arrive at the police station, Rainbow yells that she’s Judge Foster’s daughter and the police immediately apologize and take her to a phone to call her dad, who comes and takes her home. Ned vows never to trust love again. Yeah, yeah, whatever. Why don’t you time-travel to the ’00s and listen to some emo music?

Can you tell I’m not feeling particularly sympathetic this week?

A few years later, Ned still hasn’t given anyone else a chance as far as romance is concerned, and Rachel is worried. It turns out Rachel spent her junior year in Austria studying abroad and learning about the family’s Austrian background, and she met a college kid named Paul there and they are in love. So now she thinks everyone else should be too. Sounds like Liz.

Ned lives in an off-campus house with Seth and their friends Vince and Danny. From here, the story gets boring fast. Ned rescues Alice from drowning, tries to date her, learns she’s marrying Hank Patman, and finally gets the girl when she shows up at his house one day after having run off from her wedding. It’s the exact same story as before and it’s not suddenly more interesting because it’s being told from Ned’s point of view.

Ned and Alice marry in the Robertsons’ backyard. Later on, Ned and Alice share a little about their family history and note the similarity of the rose on the Wakefield family crest ring and the carved wooden rose passed down through Alice’s family. They wonder if it might be a coincidence … Wait, they really don’t know by now that their families have met repeatedly through the ages? How is that not possible? I guess it kind of makes sense, I don’t know. I’m too lazy to think about it that hard.

Ned and Alice have their son Steven. When he is a toddler, Alice tells Ned she’s pregnant again and they talk about whether they’ll have another son or a daughter, and what a daughter might be like. Ned hopes she’s just like Alice!

Verdict: This book wasn’t as good as the first Saga. I still liked it, but it could’ve been better. It also seemed like it had more deaths and despair than the first one. I hate the parts that are just rehashes of what we already learned in the first Saga. I know what happened already; you don’t need to tell me all over again. I also don’t care what Ned’s view is of the Alice story because well … it’s not any different!

(I also hated all those various TV show episodes that were just flashback episodes … you know the type, every sitcom and mainstream drama seemed to have one back in the day, with the characters reminiscing about stuff that already happened. I mean, who cares? We already watched it once; bring us something new and exciting.)

WTF? Katerina tells Theo about how she read Wuthering Heights and wants to know about the ghosts that roam the moors. Theo basically laughs in her face and admonishes her that she shouldn’t read romantic novels. He then starts babbling about how she needs to read about the American prairie landscape instead. He also makes a remark about how the Indians in America would probably scare her. Is this where Liz gets her condescension from?

Each Saga edition has a Wakefield family tree in the front of the book. The family tree in this one shows that Theodore’s father’s name is also Theodore, yet in the very first chapter, Theo’s mother calls his father “George”. Man, come on, get it right.

When the little boy falls overboard on the steamer, and Alice Larson goes to save him, it’s said the rocking of the ship tears him out of his mother’s arms and flings him overboard. But in the first Saga, he ran from his mother of his own free will, and was looking over the railing when he fell.

I tried to find some information about the Awaswan Indians online, but it looks like the author made them up.

As with the last book in the Saga series, we can’t have a history of the Wakefield twins without a reassurance that their ancestors were perfect, too, and that California is absolutely the best place on Earth. Here, Dancing Wind thinks about how Isabella has always been jealous of her perfect figure, and Sarah thinks to herself about how there’s no better place in the world than California (despite never having been anywhere else).

Theo is said to be only middle-aged when Sarah is 16, but how old was he when he was married to Dancing Wind? I’m so confused!

During the Prohibition days, Ted and his friends drink “near-beer”. That’s a type of nearly zero alcohol “beer” made by the big brewing companies to stay alive after alcohol was outlawed. Everything I read about it seemed to emphasize how terrible it tasted and how people would spike it under the table! Ha ha ha!

In book 25, Nowhere to Run, Grandma Wakefield (who I guess is Hannah) told Emily Mayer that Ned has a half-brother named Louis from Bob’s first marriage and that Bob’s first wife was killed in a train accident. Louis is 11.5 years older than Ned. Obviously that isn’t the case so far as this book is concerned. I guess Grandma just made that up to try and make Emily feel better. (Unless Bob married before he joined the service at 16, haha)

Ned also told his son Steven in an earlier SVH book that he is named after his college best friend who was killed in a car accident. Obviously that’s also bullshit.

Let’s look at this cover.

Here it is again so you don't have to scroll all the way back up to the top.

Nice satiny blue sheen … is that pink rose supposed to be the wooden Alice Larson rose? But it’s pink! The book says it’s made of white wood. On the right side, we have Theodore Wakefield at the top. Damn, he looks cold and menacing! Next comes his daughter Sarah, who is very pretty. Then of course Elizabeth and Jessica take up the bottom two tiers there. I kind of wish we had Ted and Bob there instead. I guess the twins are supposed to look like they do on the cover of Double Love, but there’s something off about it. It seems to have a liberal use of white paint around their eyes and hair. Maybe I’m just picky.

As with the previous Saga, this cover wasn’t done by veteran Sweet Valley cover artist James Mathewuse for some reason. This one was done by someone named Bruce Emmett.

Here’s the full stepback:

There’s the Hindenberg disaster with Ted in the foreground screaming at it … God, how traumatizing. To the right, Theodore cries out in horror and reaches out to Dancing Wind as she does her crazy flip and falls, with Guillermo trying to catch her. The picture makes it look like she just slipped and fell off the trapeze without doing the flip, however. Below that, we have Bob frantically shouting into the radio and it looks like the battle is raging behind him. Finally, there’s the protest at the College of Southern California with Ted casually holding onto .. Rainbow? Rainbow’s supposed to have black hair, but this girl’s hair is blond. But Ned hadn’t met Alice yet and he wasn’t with her at the protest. I’m fucking confused.

In the back of the book is a really unimaginative ad, telling you to pick up some other books in the series. It has a list of the Super Editions, Super Stars, Super Thrillers, Magna Editions, and a list of the upcoming six-book miniseries that occurs after A Night to Remember. Obviously, this edition was printed a while after the original release date, since at the time it originally came out, none of that post-Jungle Prom business was out yet.

No Reader of the Month this time. Wah.

Coming up next, it’s back to the original series with Jessica and Bruce having some kind of fight over something.

Magna Edition #1/Sweet Valley Saga #1 The Wakefields of Sweet Valley

I want you guys to know that I wondered how to post the title of this entry for way too long. Hurrrrrrr

So hey, I’m back! And this is the very first of two new Sweet Valley “series.” It’s the first of the Magna Editions, these big-ass books that typically had well over 300 pages and fancy stepback cover illustrations and shit like that. But it’s also the first of a brand new set called Sweet Valley Saga, which I originally thought was a whole new series a la Sweet Valley Twins or Sweet Valley Kids. Instead, the Saga series is meant to tie-in to the regularly scheduled SVH books. The Sagas track the family lineage of the Wakefield twins and that of the Patman and Fowler families.

Wow, so now that I feel like one of those old hosts on the classic movie channel, I’ll swivel back around to the fire in my upholstered chair, and let the story begin.

1866. Alice Larson, an orphan, travels to New York from Sweden at 16. Everything important happens at 16, right? When the ship hits rough waters “somewhere in the Atlantic”, a little boy runs from his mother to look and falls overboard. Alice dives in after him with a life preserver, and then a young Englishman named Theodore Wakefield rescues both of them. Alice and Theodore spend the rest of the voyage falling in love. Theodore whittles Alice a rose out of a piece of lumber he found onboard. (The rose shows up again in a Sweet Valley Twins story!) They have a “date” at the dining hall, for which Alice’s friends dress her up. Theodore takes them to eat outside and imagines out loud that their gross porridge and hard tack are seafood bisque and steak. He makes Alice laugh even though she can barely understand him, and she slowly improves her English. When they dock in NY, Theodore wants to have the ship’s captain marry them, but Alice says they should wait to marry once they’ve gotten settled in the New World. They set a place to meet up after they are finished going through immigration. Apart from Alice, Theodore is told he might have typhus and is packed off to quarantine. From a distance, he sees Alice waiting for him at their spot, but can’t catch her attention before he’s sent away to the hospital. So Alice waits and waits. Her Uncle Par and Aunt Elisabeth come to pick her up and they all return every day for a week to check for Theodore. Finally her family tells her he has clearly deserted her, and refuse to keep waiting around. Alice and her broken heart head for St. Paul, Minnesota with her aunt, uncle, and two little cousins, Helga and Anika.

1877. Alice is now married to a George Johnson and living in Prairie Lakes, Minnesota. She gives birth to twin girls, Elisabeth and Jessamyn. Elisabeth has a mole on her left shoulder which is how you can tell the twins apart. Oh, lord, hereditary moles. We learn Alice and George previously had a son named Steven who died of scarlet fever as a baby. Alice thinks of Theodore Wakefield and hopes he’s as happy as she is.

1884. Elisabeth and Jessamyn are now seven years old. Jessamyn is a “headstrong frontier tomboy” who dreams of joining the circus, while Elisabeth is a boring pushover who does all the chores Jessamyn leaves her with. Gee, does that sound familiar? Jessamyn disappears at yearly family circus outing for a while to hang out with the bareback riding lady and momentarily scares the shit out of her family. After they find her, Jessamyn tells her mother that there’s an animal “talker” there who goes by “the Magnificent Theo W.” Alice flips out thinking it might be her first love and steals away to the circus to find out, only to see it has already packed up and left town.

1893. Now 16, the twins attend a corn-husking bee with their family and friends. There’s a set of bully brothers named Billy and Bobby Tyrus and Bobby makes fun of Jessamyn for liking “boyish” stuff like bicycles and baseball. She tells him off. Elisabeth gets jealous when she thinks Jessamyn is flirting with her crush, Tom Wilkens. Tom Wilkens? Really? You mean to tell me the twins’ love stories are hereditary too? What? Jessamyn also pisses off Alycia Germond by flirting with her love interest Tad Schmidt. Then Tom finds a red ear of corn; the tradition is that he can kiss the girl of his choice. He chooses Elisabeth and she floats on air. Jessamyn is momentarily annoyed but goes back to flashing her ankles at Carl Bergen and Tad, or however people flirted back then, I don’t know.

Jessamyn has also been taking bareback riding lessons from an old Native American named Peter Blue Cloud, on his horse Smoke Signal. Peter Blue Cloud shares a lot of his people’s history and legends with Jessamyn and she genuinely likes hearing them. She is the one person who seems to bring him any sunshine in life; they make great friends. I think it’s pretty cool that Jessamyn’s character is a lot less shallow than modern-day Jessica. In fact, she’s my favorite character in this whole book. But don’t worry, we can’t have Elisabeth not looking like a do-gooder. She has her own elderly man friend, a former slave named Matthew whom ‘Lis is teaching to read.

When the circus comes back that summer, Jessamyn dresses as a boy so she can either access the circus more easily or volunteer to work in exchange for free daily tickets. The new bareback riding lady tells Jessamyn she is a natural and offers to get her a job, so Jessamyn runs away with the circus, leaving a note behind. Elisabeth is devastated; Matthew says that this is Jessamyn’s chance to make a new life for herself. Tom continues to court Elisabeth and comfort her. Elisabeth slowly starts acting a bit more like Jess to feel closer to her, taking horsey lessons from Peter and sneaking rancid old cheese into Bobby Tyrus’ dinner pail to fuck with him the way Jess used to.

When Elisabeth hears that Peter Blue Cloud is dying, she asks her parents if she can find Jessamyn and bring her back, because Peter really wants to see her one last time. Her parents refuse, so Elisabeth sneaks off herself. She stows away on trains until she finds Jessamyn’s compartment. Jess is doing great and is the star of the show now and caught between twin trapeze artists, Mario and Dario Morrelli. The twins decide to return to Prairie Lakes after Jessamyn’s next performance so that Jessamyn can tell Peter goodbye. Elisabeth is wowed by the flips Jess does on the horse, Goldilocks, and Jessamyn agrees to let her try out a ride. But Elisabeth gets reckless and goes too fast, and Goldilocks throws her. Elisabeth is killed instantly. Damn you horse!

Needless to say, Jessamyn is devastated. She quits the circus and returns home. She’s too late for Peter Blue Cloud; he died the same day Elisabeth did. 😦

1900. Jessamyn is now a hostess at a hotel in San Francisco, California and actively courted by hordes of wealthy male guests, none of whom she really gives a damn about. She turns down tons of marriage proposals and thinks sadly about how she hasn’t known any real joy since her sister died.

1905. Taylor Watson of Watson Motor Company is the first man Jessamyn has ever been serious about. She feels comfortable with him, but isn’t sure she loves him. He asks her to marry him and she holds off on an answer, but wears the ring anyway. Then Taylor introduces her to his top Watson Motors race car driver Bruce Farber, and lust blossoms!

1906. Jessamyn is now having a passionate affair with Bruce Farber while still “engaged” to Taylor. On a hilltop overlooking San Fran, Bruce and Jessamyn are having a picnic and Bruce is pressuring Jessamyn to take off her ring. He wants Jess to finally tell Taylor that she’s going to marry Bruce instead, but Jessamyn is still hesitating. She knows that if Elisabeth were here, she’d tell Jess she should stop stalling and marry Taylor and tell Bruce to fuck off. But instead, Bruce seduces Jessamyn on the hilltop. No, for real, it’s definitely implied that they have sex up there. It’s always a Bruce that inspires the closest we get to sex scenes in Sweet Valley, isn’t it?

Then the San Francisco Earthquake hits and wakes our lovers up from their post-coital slumber on the picnic blanket. Jessamyn sees the city on fire and insists that Bruce drive her back down there in his Model E (get it? Like Model T? haha) so that she can check on her hotel guests and Taylor. Bruce refuses, because he is a big asshole and doesn’t want to help his rival. What a dick! Jessamyn promises to be his forever in order to get him to help her guests. They find the hotel split open and fire rapidly approaching, and an elderly lady guest named Mrs. Burnham trapped inside. Jessamyn begs Bruce to rescue the woman, but it takes her insinuating he is a coward to make him do it. When he heads in, Taylor Watson shows up and is saddened to see that Jessamyn was with Bruce, but he rushes to help Bruce pull a bed off the trapped woman without hesitation. The old woman is saved, but Bruce doesn’t make it out of the burning building with them. Taylor rushes back to save him, almost losing his own life in the process. Taylor and Bruce make it out alive thanks to Taylor. Jessamyn realizes she’s in love with Taylor and rushes to tell him so, much to Bruce’s utter shock and disapproval.

1908. Jessamyn and Taylor live in Detroit, where they have a one-year-old son named Harry and infant twin girls, Amanda and Samantha. More twins!

1920. Amanda is like Elizabeth Wakefield and Samantha is like Jessica Wakefield. One wants to be a writer and the other wants to be a movie star. Prohibition is in full effect and the twins argue over whether or not people are “supposed” to drink. Amanda gets mad at Samantha for gossiping their neighbor Elise DeCecco drank every day while waiting for her boyfriend to return from the Great War. Wow, Amanda is definitely exactly what a 1920s Liz would be like.

1925-26. Amanda is seriously dating the popular Geoffrey Aiken. (Geoffrey = Jeffrey?) Samantha has fallen in love with a hot picture of Harry’s college buddy, Ted Wakefield and can’t wait to meet him and make him hers when he visits at Christmas. The girls go to a local club where Samantha dances with Scott Turner while her ex-boy toy, sleazy speakeasy-goin’ boy Kevin Hughes, mopes around that she doesn’t want him anymore. Then Ted comes to visit with Harry. He’s a writer and needless to say, that’s all the excuse Amanda needs to fall for him. Ted fascinates everyone with his manly manliness and stories of how his grandfather, Theo W. (yes that one) struck gold in Colorado after he left the circus. One night, Ted finds Amanda writing poetry after everyone else is asleep. He gets her to read him some of her poetry, they make out, and Amanda feels horribly guilty because she knows Samantha is still after Ted, so she doesn’t tell her. So Sam continues to make a fool out of herself pursuing Ted, and doesn’t seem to realize he isn’t returning her feelings.

After Ted and Harry go back to school, Amanda breaks up with Geoffrey and returns his ring. Ted starts writing to Amanda every day. Amanda always grabs the letters before anyone else in the family can see them, and keeps telling herself that she’ll let Samantha know the truth, but squanders every opportunity she has to do so. She lies and tells Ted that she has told Samantha. Can you tell how this is ultimately going to go down?

Yes, Samantha one day gets home from school unexpectedly early, sees one of Ted’s letters to Amanda, and steams it open and reads it. Then she finds the rest of the letters where Amanda has hidden them under the mattress. Man, is she PISSED. Sam starts burning future Ted letters that Amanda receives, including ones that mention he’s going to visit again with Harry for spring break. Ted thinks Amanda doesn’t love him anymore or something, but goes ahead and shows up for the visit anyway. He is confused to find Samantha, not Amanda, waiting for him. Samantha has already taken the liberty of trashing the school newspaper office so that Amanda has to stay behind and clean it, so that Sam can get to Ted first. Samantha gets Ted to take her out in his car by saying she’ll show him the way to the high school so they can pick up Amanda; instead she redirects him to a secluded bluff and throws herself at him. Ted pushes her away and Samantha stalks out of the car and off down the road by herself. She heads straight to a speakeasy called the Cellar Door where she convinces her sleazy ex Kevin to help her bring down Ted and get back at Amanda. And what a nasty plan it is: Kevin plants a shitload of bathtub gin or whatever in the trunk of Ted’s car. Then Samantha goes and gets Ted out of bed in the middle of the night, posing as Amanda, and telling him a friend of his is in trouble and needs him down at the Cafe Car. So Ted and Samantha drive over there and the police pull them over as Samantha has advised them Ted is planning to make an illegal delivery. The police tell Ted that Amanda told them he was coming, Ted thinks she planted the liquor, and the fake “Amanda” says she did it because she thinks Ted made a pass at Samantha.

Wow, Samantha is kind of a loon.

Ted is hauled off to jail thinking that the girl he loves is a horrible double-crossing bitch. I can’t believe the idea that it might’ve been his true love’s twin sister plotting all this never once crossed his mind, especially after the erratic way she behaved just the day before!

The next day, Amanda hears what happened to Ted and goes to the police office, where she’s told he was released for “lack of evidence” (what? how is liquor in the trunk not evidence enough?) and that he complained his girlfriend had tricked him. Amanda realizes what happened and she and Sam have a horrible fight about it. Sam tries to get Amanda to forgive her, but Amanda is not as wimpy as Liz, and she refuses. The twins stop talking to each other and then Sam takes off for Hollywood after they graduate from high school. A few months later, she’s married to a Jack Lewis and starring in a new movie. Amanda refuses to go to the wedding or speak to her sister ever again. She’s also unable to track down Ted and tell him the truth.

1927. Amanda races back to Hollywood to finally reconcile with her sister after she hears she’s about to die from childbirth complications. Amanda promises Samantha that she will look after her daughter, Marjorie, with Jack. Samantha dies a minute or two later.

1935. Amanda is now a high school teacher in Sweet Valley. Jack, meanwhile, moves to France after he lands a good job there, allowing him to escape the Great Depression. He takes Marjorie with him.

1939. Marjorie misses her aunt, but is loving life in Val-le-Doux, France. Val-le-Doux? That roughly translates to Sweet Valley. Come on, let’s get a bit more creative here. Also, we learn that back home, one of Amanda’s students is a class clown named Walter Egbert.

1940. Marjorie and her father navigate Val-le-Doux around all the Nazi Germany soldiers who have occupied it. Marjorie doesn’t approve of the close friendship of her father and beautiful Frenchwoman Mademoiselle Pinget, even though her dad assures her they are just friends.

1941. Jack decides it’s too dangerous for Marjorie to continue living in France and makes arrangements to send her back to the U.S. to live with Amanda. Marjorie tearfully bids her best friend Marthe Giradoux goodbye. But then the United States enters World War II and Marjorie and her father, as Americans, are now enemies of the German-occupied France. The Nazis come and arrest her father while Marjorie is out one day. Mlle. Pinget and her friend, Monsieur Bourget, put Marjorie into hiding; it turns out they are members of the French Resistance. Marjorie stays in a wine cellar with a younger, Jewish girl, Sophy Berg, who tells her about her handsome older brother, Jacques. Marjorie realizes her father is also a member of the Resistance and that’s why he and Mlle. Pinget were so close. (They couldn’t also be lovers?) She feels proud of him.

1942. Jacques reunites with Sophy in the girls’ farmhouse hideaway, and invites Marjorie to become a member of the Resistance by transmitting Morse code messages in English and French to help their mission. Marjorie is excited to take up the task, but it means she must leave Sophy behind and constantly be on the move. Jacques helps her out, and it’s not long before he and Marjorie fall in love. While operating the radio, Marjorie receives an incoming message which says Sophy has been discovered and arrested by the Nazis, who are actively looking for Marjorie as well in the hopes that her capture will force her father to cooperate. The messages state that Marjorie’s dad is believed to have deliberately been turned over to the POW camp in order to work from the inside. That knowledge inspires Marjorie to draft a drastic plan to save Sophy. Jacques talks to a former classmate of his, Pierre Trichet, who collaborates with the Germans sometimes. Jacques convinces Pierre to offer the Germans Marjorie in exchange for Sophy. Jacques will bring Marjorie to a nearby train station and hand her over after Pierre releases Sophy. Sophy will not be allowed to stay in France, but will be given false papers and put on the train to Spain to start a new life. After Sophy gets on the train, Marjorie will flee from Pierre after a disguised Resistance fighter “accidentally” rams a cart into Pierre and knocks him over. Marjorie and Jacques will dash onto the train as it pulls away and leap off at a pre-arranged point to meet with more Resistance fighters and continue their work.

The plan appears to go well at first until the part where Marjorie and Jacques flee from Pierre. Swarms of Nazis fill the station and a gunbattle erupts between them and hordes of hidden French Resistance fighters. As the train carries Marjorie away to safety, she sees Jacques gunned down.

Damn, is no one allowed to find happiness with their first true love in this book?

On board the train, Marjorie meets with Sophy and they embrace and cry. Marjorie plans to leap off the train at a pre-arranged point to meet with more Resistance fighters and continue her mission, but Sophy thinks it’s time for her to fulfill Marjorie’s work while Marjorie returns to her home country. Marjorie insists that Sophy be the one to find freedom with the papers, but Sophy locks her inside their compartment, slides her papers under the door for Marjorie to use to find freedom, and then throws herself off the train to stay and fight in her home country.

1949. Home in Sweet Valley, Sophy marries Charles Robertson, an airman shot down over Val-le-Doux whom the Resistance helped rescue. At the wedding, Uncle Harry is there with his wife Stephanie and their sons, Peter and Stevie. No sign of old Ted though!

1962. Marjorie’s daughters Nancy, Alice, and Laura watch the first moon landing and make family trees.

Late 1960s. Alice Robertson attends the College of Southern California where she dresses like a hippie and joins in protests. Rich Hank Patman pursues her but she thinks he’s a ridiculous snob. But then the students hold a sit-in to protest the firing of a professor who was “too vocal” about the cause of civil rights. The administration attempts to starve the students out by cutting off deliveries from the building, but Hank saves the day by flying his helicopter over top the building and dropping food onto the roof while making an announcement over a bullhorn. The students eat and stay and the professor’s job is reinstated, and Alice falls for Hank. They date pretty seriously and eventually get engaged later that semester. At a beach party, Alice catches Hank walking off with a girl named Brenda and they have a fight. Alice swims off in the ocean in a rage, gets caught in an undertow, and is saved from drowning by handsome law student Ned Wakefield. It’s literally a re-do of Theo Wakefield saving Alice Larson after she fell off the ship. No, for real: even the text of the two incidents is the exact same with perhaps an extra sentence thrown in. It’s fate! Alice and Ned aren’t sure why, but they are instantly drawn to one another. Still, Alice turns Ned down when he eventually asks her out, explaining that she’s engaged. The day of the wedding, Alice and her sisters overhear Hank and his friends making fun of the causes Alice values and the hippie clothes Hank had to wear to convince her he was serious. Alice tells Hank she’s leaving him and he only seems to be upset about it because it will shame his family. He kicks her off the Patman property in a rage. She walks all the way to a pay phone, finds Ned’s home address in the attached phone book, and walks to his house where they embrace. At long last, the spirit of Alice Larson can rest as the Larson line and the Wakefield line are finally united … I guess. It’s destiny, or something.

“A number of years later.” The Wakefield twins are born with golden halos over their heads and an operatic chorus singing arias in the background

This cover is awesome. It is the first one that wasn’t done by the usual cover artist, James Mathewuse. I don’t know why. Franco Accornero did this one. So let’s check it out … here’s the full stepback …. (click to enlarge)


To the left, we have Theodore and Alice embracing on the dock, with Alice and Hank zooming around in his Mustang right below them. Then there’s a mountain range with a steam locomotive, and Jessamyn on a horse in front of it. The horse matches the description of Smoke Signal, not Goldilocks, but Jess is not riding him bareback, so I’m confused. Also, I don’t know if the train is supposed to be the one that Elisabeth catches to find Jessamyn or the one that Marjorie and Sophy escape on, but I’m guessing the former since it looks like the horse bit is supposed to be part of it. And then finally we have Samantha sashaying around in her flapper outfit while Ted looks on.

The identities of the ladies going down the righthand side has always confused me a bit. I think the top lady is Alice Larson, all dressed up by her friends on the boat with pearls and makeup for her first date with Theodore Wakefield. Then we have Elisabeth all prim and proper in her bonnet. Next, well, I guess that’s Alice Robertson, looking all feisty and protest-ready. I would say that’s Liz, but I don’t see any barrettes! And lastly, we have Jessica with the Aqua Net going on. Seriously, no Marjorie anywhere on this cover?

WTF? So yes, I genuinely liked this book. I do like historical sagas, but I thought this one was very well-done. (Of course, I did read it right after Sweet Valley Confidential, so consider the post-recovery factor from that piece of shit.) It was a super easy read, but it didn’t bore me at all. Okay, maybe Alice’s story started to make me nod off after a while. Can you blame me? It was hard to go from tales of war bravery and crazy speakeasy schemes to Alice fucking fretting over Ned.

I like the title; The Wakefields of Sweet Valley sounds appropriate for a saga. Yet it’s not really about the Wakefields until the last chapter, and the two Wakefield men that appear prior to Ned aren’t in Sweet Valley.

The font in this book is HUGE. If they made it the regular-sized font, they probably could’ve shaved off at least a good 50 pages.

Continuity police: I believe there are now three different versions of how Ned and Alice met – the one in this book, one in an earlier Sweet Valley High book, and one in a Sweet Valley Twins book (Jumping to Conclusions).

So, we learned about Alice’s sisters. We know that Laura went on to marry shitty Greg Bates and have Kelly Bates. So the other cousin, Jenny Townsend (in Taking Sides) must be Nancy’s daughter.

The Super Edition Spring Fever said that Uncle Herman and Aunt Shirley were Alice’s aunt and uncle. Okay, so due to the last name situation, we can guess that Shirley is either Marjorie’s half-sister (if Jack remarried), or Charles’ sister, who married a Herman Walker.

That leaves us with Cousin Rexy (who died) and Cousin Robin (from Sweet Valley Twins), neither of whom is mentioned; I can only assume these are children of Ned’s siblings. I know he has a half-brother named Louis.

Is Mr. Patman’s name Hank or Henry? I know Hank is short for Henry but I thought he generally went by Henry. Whatever.

Speaking of Hank/Henry, let’s talk about why Alice’s engagement to Hank is “a painful romantic choice she will hide forever – even from her twin daughters”, as the back cover tells us. Why? The whole town knew Alice and Hank were engaged and that she walked out on their wedding day. So why is it such a secret? Are their daughters really never going to hear about this growing up in the same small town? I know this is talked about a little later on in the SVH series, but I don’t get it.

The redundancy of names and connections got a bit annoying after a while. Is Bruce Farber supposed to be an ancestor of Bruce Patman? Is Tom Wilkens an ancestor of Todd Wilkins? It’s fate, right? And I guess Walter Egbert is Winston’s grandfather.

Of course the left shoulder moles get passed down for each Elizabeth-like twin, and the size six gets passed down as well! Seriously, isn’t that fucking pushing it just a little!

Whatever happened to Ted Wakefield, the one Amanda fell in love with who thinks she betrayed him? Did he die or just not show up at Alice and Ned Wakefield’s wedding? ‘Cause man, I’d love to see THAT showdown.

It’s entirely possible that I missed it, but I never saw where the Nazis were looking for Jacques Berg, only Sophy, nor did I get why Pierre didn’t want to turn Jacques over to the Nazis if he was such a collaborator.

The first names of Wakefield/Robertson family members are clearly passed down from generation to generation. I guess that whole bit in the SVH series where Ned claimed he named Steven after his dead college friend was something he made up to fuck with him.

I would love to hear more about what happened to Sophy Berg after she left the train to join the Resistance. Maybe she will reappear in the next Saga, but I doubt it. This isn’t THAT big of a series. Even characters randomly mentioned throughout this book intrigued me as to what their fates were, such as Alice’s friends on the ship: Angelique Stone, Birgitta Svensen, Sarah Thurber, and Jane McCarty, who come from different countries and help her look good for Ted.

Reading and enjoying this book left me with a whole new disdain for Sweet Valley Confidential. It also made some of the things that happened in SVC seem that much weirder.

Coming up next … We’re back to the boring original SVH books, in which two supposedly smart girls fight over that douchey Scott Trost.

Sweet Valley Cover Models

I think many of us like to try and figure out the models for some of the SV cover paintings (all done by James Mathewuse up till the first Sweet Valley Saga book). You may already know that Courteney Cox posed for Annie Whitman on Wrong Kind of Girl; I don’t know for sure who any of the rest are but we all have good guesses.

As I was looking through the stepback illustrations of my SV Saga books, I couldn’t help but notice this illustration from The Patmans of Sweet Valley

Ava Crowder, is that you?

If you watch the (totally awesome) FX show Justified, you’re familiar with Ava. Do you think it’s her? The actress who plays her, Joelle Carter, is a former professional model. I think she is a dead ringer. I’ve seen her make that same expression at Raylan many times!

(Next review coming super soon … I swear …I’m almost done …)

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