Sweet Valley Saga: The Wakefields of Sweet Valley
It’s 1866, and Alice Larson is sailing from Sweden to America when a storm knocks a little boy over the side of the ship. Alice jumps in after him, but then she starts to drown. A man named Theodore Wakefield, who is sailing from England, rescues her. Theodore and Alice spend all their time together for the rest of the journey, and plan to get married when they are both American citizens. When they arrive, they each go to have their medical exams and plan to meet outside the building afterward. Alice waits and waits, having no idea Theodore is suspected of having typhus and is being transported to a quarantine hospital. Alice’s aunt and uncle pick her up, and a week later, they move on to Minnesota. Alice is heartbroken.
Alice eventually marries George Johnson, and they have a son, Steven, who dies of scarlet fever. In 1877, Jessamyn and Elisabeth are born. The only way to tell them apart is by the mole on Elisabeth’s shoulder. In 1884, when the twins are seven, Alice and George take them to the circus, where Jessamyn runs off to see the horses. When her family finds her, she talks about the Magnificent Theo W., who showed her how to bridle a horse. Alice thinks it must be Theodore, and she sneaks out late that night to go back to the circus. She finds only an empty field. The circus has moved on.
Elisabeth and Jessamyn, 1893
The twins turn sixteen in 1893. Jessamyn is a daring tomboy, well on her way to becoming a suffragist. Elisabeth has a crush on Tom Wilkens, but so does Jessamyn. Boy, that sounds familiar. The Johnsons have a corn-husking bee in their barn to shuck the summer crop. Tom gets the red ear, which means he gets to kiss the girl of his choice. He chooses Elisabeth. The circus comes to town again, as it does every year, and Jessamyn dresses as a boy and sneaks off to see it. Jessamyn loves the circus, and when the bareback rider sees her ride, she says Jessamyn is good enough to be a circus star. The next day, her family wakes up to find a note from Jessamyn. She’s run off with the circus.
Jessamyn learned about horses from a nice old man named Peter Blue Cloud. After Jessamyn leaves, Elisabeth finds out Blue Cloud is dying and goes to see him. He asks for Jessamyn, and Elisabeth thinks she should try to track her sister down. Her parents forbid her to go, so Elisabeth sneaks out and hops a train. She manages to find the circus train surprisingly quickly, and tells Jessamyn about Blue Cloud. Jessamyn says she’ll go home with Elisabeth after the next day’s show. Before they leave, Elisabeth asks if she can ride Jessamyn’s horse around the ring. She gets thrown from the horse and dies. Jessamyn quits the circus and goes home to bury her sister.
Jessamyn moves to San Francisco and by 1900, is successfully managing a hotel. In 1905, Taylor Watson, who runs the Watson Motor Company, proposes to her, but she’s not sure she loves him. He introduces her to Bruce Farber, who is going to race one of Taylor’s cars to gain publicity for the company. A year later, she’s engaged to Taylor and having an affair with Bruce. She is unable to make up her mind until the earthquake hits and Bruce proves himself to be a coward. Taylor and Bruce are in the hotel and Taylor becomes trapped by fire. Bruce leaves him to die. They both manage to make it out alive, but Bruce’s cowardice shows Jessamyn the kind of man he really is. She marries Taylor and they move to Michigan. Two years later, Jessamyn gives birth to twin girls, Amanda and Samantha.
Amanda and Samantha, 1920-1935
Amanda wants to be a writer and Samantha wants to be an actress. When she’s twelve years old, Samantha cuts her hair into a bob and tries to get Amanda to do the same. In 1925, their brother, Harry, writes home from college and tells his family all about his roommate, Ted Wakefield. He’s sent a picture along, and the twins are both impressed with Ted’s looks. Amanda has a steady boyfriend named Geoff, so she’s not really interested in competing with Samantha for Ted’s affection. Ted comes home with Harry at Christmas and falls in love with Amanda, and even though Amanda tells herself she shouldn’t hurt Samantha or Geoff, she makes out with Ted. Ted leaves the next morning, and Amanda vows to forget about him and not tell anyone about their kiss. But Ted writes her a letter and she writes back, and by March, she’s in love with Ted and broken up with Geoff. She still can’t bear to tell Samantha what’s going on. Samantha finds a letter to Amanda from Ted in the mailbox and steams it open. She’s furious to find that the two of them have been carrying on a secret romance. She reseals the letter and puts it back in the mailbox. Ted is coming home with Harry over spring break, and Samantha is determined that either she will make him hers, or else no one can have him. Scary.
Samantha intercepts another letter and learns Ted will be making a quick stop in Detroit that Friday and wants to take Amanda to a jazz club. Samantha burns the letter, and then vandalizes the newspaper office at school, ensuring Amanda will have to stay late to help clean up. When Ted arrives, Samantha suggests they go get Amanda, but Samantha directs him to Overlook Valley, the makeout spot, instead of to the school. She starts trying to kiss him, but he tells her he’s in love with Amanda. Samantha gets out of the car and walks away.
There’s a guy named Kevin Hughes who’s some kind of big deal at The Cellar Door, the local speakeasy. He’s always lusted after Samantha, so after she leaves Ted, Samantha walks all the way from Overlook Valley to the speakeasy and convinces Kevin to help her with her revenge plan. That night, after Amanda has gone to sleep, Samantha dresses in the clothes she was wearing and goes to the guest bedroom to wake Ted. Pretending to be Amanda, she tells him a friend of his who plays music at the jazz club is in trouble and needs him for something. When they get to the club, the police are there and they ask Ted to open his trunk, which is full of alcohol. The cops thank “Amanda” for bringing them the man who’s been supplying the area with liquor. The cops arrest Ted, and he gets hauled off thinking Amanda set him up.
When Amanda finds out Ted was arrested, she goes to the police station to find out what happened. The cops tell her he was let go earlier, but that he had said he was heartbroken because his girl had set him up. Amanda figures out that it must have all been Samantha’s doing. She goes home to confront her. Samantha denies everything at first, but then says she was only trying to even the score. The twins don’t speak to each other for the next two months, and then Samantha takes off for Hollywood after high school graduation. She gets famous pretty quickly, and just a few months later, she marries a man named Jack Lewis. Amanda opts to stay in Detroit while the rest of the family goes to Hollywood for the wedding. One day, Amanda reads in the paper that Samantha is pregnant.
Months later, Samantha’s doctor in California calls the Watsons and says Samantha isn’t doing well with the birth of her child and will probably die. Amanda races to Hollywood and gets to the hospital just in time to tell her twin she loves her and promise to help Jack take care of the baby, Marjorie.
In 1935, Jack, Amanda and Marjorie are all living in Sweet Valley, but Jack has been offered a job in France. Amanda is heartsick at losing Marjorie, but knows the child needs to stay with her father. Jack offers to let Amanda come with them, but she doesn’t want to leave her job teaching at Sweet Valley High (one of her students is a jokester named Walter Egbert).
France has been invaded by the Germans and it’s a scary place to be during the war, but Marjorie doesn’t want to go back to America. In 1941, her father tells her he’s sending her home to Aunt Amanda, but he will be staying in France. The day before she’s supposed to leave is the day the Americans enter the war. A friend of her father’s tells her she is now an enemy to the Germans and must lay low. He walks her home, and they find the house has been ransacked and Jack is missing. Another family friend takes Marjorie to a hiding place near a vineyard, where she will be sharing the cellar with a Jewish girl named Sophy. Sophy’s parents were captured, but her brother, Jacques, works with the French Resistance.
About a year later, Jacques visits them in the cellar to ask Marjorie if she wants to help the Resistance. They need someone to transmit messages to Britain and America. She learns Morse code and leaves the cellar. One night, she gets stopped by some soldiers, but she hands them her falsified identification papers and puts on a good act. They let her go, and Marjorie meets up with Jacques, who saw the whole thing and was worried about her. They kiss, and then fall in love.
Some time later, Marjorie receives a message saying Sophy has been arrested and the enemy is looking for Marjorie. It also says Jack Lewis is suspected of getting arrested on purpose so he could work from inside the POW camp. Marjorie and Jacques come up with a plan. Jacques speaks to an old classmate of his named Pierre who collaborates with the Germans. He convinces Pierre that the Germans would probably be willing to let Sophy go if he can hand over Marjorie. After all, Sophy is “just a Jew,” and the Germans think Marjorie can give them information about her father’s work. Pierre gets papers for Sophy and arranges for her to get to Spain. The plan is to make Pierre think Jacques will turn Marjorie over at the train station. Sophy gets her papers and gets on the train, and Pierre takes Marjorie’s arm. Then a Resistance fighter rams a baggage cart into Pierre and Marjorie runs for the train. She hops on as it starts moving, but Jacques is not behind her. German soldiers and Resistance fighters swarm the station platform and start shooting. As the train pulls away, Marjorie sees Jacques lying in a pool of blood.
Marjorie and Sophy cry together, and Sophy says Marjorie is her only family now. Marjorie is sad to tell her that she can’t travel to Spain without papers, and that she and Jacques had arranged with another Resistance member to have the train slow down twenty kilometers outside their village so they could jump off. Sophy leaves the compartment and closes the door, jamming it with a hairpin. She tells Marjorie to take her papers, since she and Marjorie look so much alike, and go home to America. Sophy wants to stay in France and work with the Resistance. She, instead of Marjorie, jumps off the train when it slows.
Marjorie goes home to Sweet Valley, and in 1949, her father walks her down the aisle when she marries Charles Robertson.
Alice Robertson, 1962-1969
After watching news coverage of John Glenn’s orbit around Earth, Marjorie tells her daughters, Nancy, Alice and Laura, about their family history. Alice draws a family tree, but leaves space at the bottom so she can fill it up with her own family when she gets older.
Alice goes off to college, where she spends most of her time drawing and fending off Hank Patman’s advances. Alice and her roommate, Jenny, attend a sit-in after a professor is fired for being too vocal about civil rights. The administration cuts off all deliveries to the building in an attempt to starve the students out, but Hank Patman saves the day by making a food drop from a helicopter. Alice changes her mind about Hank and agrees to go out with him. After dating for most of a semester during which Hank starts to look and act like a hippie, Hank proposes to Alice and she accepts.
At a party on the beach, Alice sees Hank chatting up another woman. She confronts him and they have a fight, then Hank goes back to the party to “groove on some mellower people.” Angry, Alice dives into the ocean, but she gets caught in an undertow and starts to drown. A man named Ned Wakefield rescues her. Alice feels like she knows him, even though she’s never met him. After that, she runs into Ned a lot on campus. He asks her out, and looks sad when she shows him her ring and says she’s engaged to Hank Patman. A few days before the wedding, Ned calls her just to say he wishes her the best and he’ll never forget her.
The day of the wedding, Jenny, Laura and Nancy are helping Alice get ready in the guest house at the Patman mansion. Jenny says she sees Hank outside the window and Alice opens it to have a look. She hears Hank talking to some of his frat buddies, making fun of Alice’s hippie friends and telling them the helicopter food drop was a scheme to make himself popular. Alice tells the other girls to get Hank and tell him she wants to talk to him. She tells him she can’t marry him, then runs away from the mansion and into the arms of Ned Wakefield.
But if the rumors going around Hollywood are right, the article went on, Miss Watson won’t be fitting into her perfect size-six dress for much longer.
Just so you know, the entire family is perfect and always has been.
The Number 137:
Samantha: But I really don’t want to have this conversation for the hundred and thirty-seventh time.
The Cover: Well, let’s see. It looks like over on the left near the ships, that must be Alice Larson and Theodore looking like they’re posing for the cover of a Harlequin romance. Then we’ve got Jessamyn on a horse, right next to a train station I’m going to guess is supposed to be in France. Or maybe it’s the train Elisabeth hopped when she went to find Jessamyn. Then there’s Samantha at the bottom in her flapper outfit, looking all seductive for Ted. Underneath Alice and Theodore appears to be Hank Patman’s red Mustang. I’m thinking the ladies lining the right side are Alice Larson, Jessamyn, Alice Robertson and Jessica, though I really have no idea.