Nov 3, 2010

Remember November: Sweet Valley High

Pop culture has given us many endearing sets of twins. Thompson and Thomson from Tintin. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. Those crazy magicians Christian Bale played in The Prestige.

But surely the most respected twins were Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, made famous by the Sweet Valley High teen fiction series. Created by Francine Pascal in 1983, and ghost-written for the next 20 years, it followed the Wakefield twins' lives, loves and friendships in their "junior" year of high school (which after much confusion about freshmen and sophomores, I realised equated to Year 11).

It spawned countless spin-offs - Sweet Valley Kids (twins aged 7), Sweet Valley Twins (twins aged 12), Sweet Valley Junior High (I'd never even HEARD of this one but apparently it's the twins aged 14), and Sweet Valley University (twins aged 18, with *gasp* sex involved). There were also the super specials and mega-editions - such as the compendiums that traced the girls' maternal and paternal ancestors back 100 years. Eventually it even ran to a TV show - but the shiny tanned girls they got to play the twins lacked the 80s ash-blonde hair and fuller faces of the book covers.


Of course, Elizabeth Wakefield was my personal inspiration. She was as beautiful and popular as Jessica, but also smart, kind and less obsessed with what people thought of her. She also wanted to be a journalist, something I'd already decided after reading my first Tintin comic. I dreamed of having a twin, an instant best friend who'd share all my hopes, dreams, and awesome outfits. Sadly, if I'd had a twin at all, I'd eaten it in the womb by the time I popped out solo, and as yearning for a twin-like best friend never resulted in one materialising, the books were the next best thing.

Perhaps my favourite was book 100, which told the story of Margo, an evil killer who looked just liked the twins, and decided to murder Elizabeth and steal her identity. A check of Wikipedia indicates that in true soapie style, Margo had her own twin, an equally evil killer named Nora. Further checking has led me to discover that *gasp* Francine Pascal is writing another book, to be published next year. Called Sweet Valley Confidential, it will look at the characters in their late 20s and early 30s. There's my reading list for 2011 covered.


  1. Love SVH! This was an amazing flashback... And a new book. Wowwee. Excited.

  2. Evil twin storyline, can an alien abduction be far behind?

  3. Hmmm, evil twin. Sounds like my sister and I... I'm the evil one, naturally.