Sweet Valley Saga: The Fowlers of Sweet Valley

SAGA - Fowler - OuterLili, 1789-1793

Lili de Beautemps lives a life of luxury at Winterthorn, her family’s estate in The Loire Valley, France. Her best friend is Marie Oiseleur, her maidservant. Lili has a little crush on Marie’s brother, Georges, though she won’t admit it to herself. One day, while out riding with a suitor, Lili’s horse gets spooked and gallops away with Lili still on it. Lili is terrified, but Georges rides up on his own horse and calms Lili’s down. The fact that a commoner saved her life while a nobleman stood by and watched makes Lili rethink her values.

France is in a sorry state of affairs. The poor want a revolution. Marie tells Lili that the servants have been holding secret meetings. The townspeople want the servants to let them into Winterthorn so they can “take up arms” against Lili’s family. Lili doesn’t believe it and thinks it’s something Marie heard from Georges, who has gotten all into the revolution lately. She teases Georges the next morning and is surprised when he grabs her arm and angrily tells her Marie wasn’t lying and Lili should pack her bags and leave Winterthorn.

The next night, Lili is dragged from her room with her hands bound and a rag in her mouth. She and her family are taken outside, where an angry mob has set up a guillotine. Her father and brothers are beheaded, but as Lili steps up to the platform, a hooded man on a horse rides out of the woods, snatches Lili up and rides off again. The horseman is Georges, of course. He takes her to a nearby village and leaves her to fend for herself. Lili wants to tell him she loves him, but he rides away.

Three years later, Lili is living in Paris and working as a seamstress. One day, she runs into a woman named Madame Fouchette, who was Countess Fouchette before the revolution. It’s clear the Fouchettes have managed to retain their wealth, so Lili doesn’t let on that she’s poor now. A few days later, she receives an invitation to a party being given by the Fouchettes. She wants to go, but the nicest thing she owns is the silk dressing gown she was wearing the night she was taken from her family’s home. She decides to whip it up into something fashionable and attend the party.

At the party, a handsome young man asks her to dance four times. Later, another party guest tells Lili how lucky she is to have caught the eye of Count Matthieu de Bizac. When the party is over, Lili goes home to her sad, poor life knowing she will never see the count again. The next day, however, she receives a bouquet of flowers and a note from the count asking her to see him that afternoon. Lili and Matthieu begin to see a lot of each other, and after a month, decide to get married.

While on their honeymoon in Italy, Matthieu tells Lili he knows she was poor and working as a seamstress. Lili is ashamed, but Matthieu assures her he still loves her and knew the truth before he married her. For the rest of the honeymoon, he consistently leaves her alone while he attends to business. They go back to Paris, but live in a hotel while Matthieu looks for a new house for them to live in, claiming he doesn’t want to live in his family’s home. A month later, Lili wakes up to find Matthieu gone, along with all his possessions and the servants.

Lili goes to Madame Fouchette, who says she assumed Lili knew the count was married. His marriage to Lili was a fraud. Now Lili has no cash, no husband and she’s pregnant. Oh, dear. Lili finds an apartment over a shop and befriends the woman downstairs, Marie Chardin. Lili dies giving birth to her child, but before she does, she names the baby Celeste and asks Marie to raise her.

Georges, 1800

Georges Oiseleur has done quite well for himself since the revolution and is now a man of means, but it’s nothing to him without Lili, whom he’s always loved. He’s been trying to find her and has even done the groundwork to get some of the de Beautemps fortune back to her. When he finds out Lili died in childbirth, he vows to find the child and pass on the de Beautemps estate.

Celeste, 1809-1865

Celeste has grown up well and loves the Chardins as much as if they were her real family. When she turns sixteen, she goes to work as a maid in the house of the Marquis de Bocage. The family is wretched, especially Emilie, the daughter it is Celeste’s duty to wait on.

Georges Oiseleur is a friend of the marquis, and he sees Celeste at the mansion one day. They speak briefly, and Georges goes home thinking of how much the girl reminds him of Lili. It’s clear Celeste does not have much in the way of luxury, so he speaks to the housekeeper. Suddenly, Celeste begins finding things in her room: books, a down comforter, pastries. One day, Emilie comes up to Celeste’s room. She sees all the finery and accuses Celeste of stealing. Celeste tells Emilie that servants are not slaves and she’s just as entitled to nice things as Emilie is.

Georges arranges for Solange Grandet, Emilie’s tutor, to teach Celeste how to read. In his dealings with the teacher, Georges starts to fall in love with Solange. One day, Celeste is in the orchard reading Gulliver’s Travels when a young man approaches her. He talks to her about books for a while, and then suddenly gets back on his horse and rides off. Celeste thinks he’s incredibly handsome and wonders who he is. Turns out he is Marc de Bocage, the marquis’s son. Celeste is serving dinner when she recognizes him, and she drops a plate.

Marc and Celeste have many awkward moments during his visit, and Marc can’t get Celeste off his mind. He knows they aren’t meant to be because of their different stations in life, so he agrees to host a ball with Emilie, hoping he will find a girl to make him forget Celeste. The night of the ball, Marc has an awful time until he sees Celeste outside, where she is looking in the window to watch Marc. He runs outside and chases Celeste down. He catches her and they kiss.

After a few weeks of secret meetings, Marc proposes to Celeste. She says no because his family will disown him and she doesn’t want him to lose his family and his inheritance because of her. For a week, Marc asks Celeste to reconsider, but she refuses. He finally goes to his parents, who refuse to bless such a union. That night, Marc’s mother accuses Celeste of seducing Marc and tells her to be gone by morning.

Celeste packs her things and sets out on foot the next morning. Georges is riding by in his carriage and offers her a ride. She tells him everything that happened, then somehow gets on the subject of her dead mother. She shows Georges the locket she wears that contains her mother’s picture. Georges is shocked and takes Celeste back to his house. He tells her all about her mother and Winterthorn and the fortune that rightfully belongs to Celeste, and explains that as trustee of the family’s estate, he is Celeste’s legal guardian. As such, he goes to Marc’s parents and explains everything to them, clearing the way for Marc and Celeste to get married. In the end, Marc marries Celeste, and Georges marries Solange.

The very next chapter suddenly jumps fifty years into the future, and Celeste and Marc are welcoming their granddaughter, Rose, into the world.

Rose, 1880-1898

Rose and her best friend, Pierre Oiseleur, have grown up together, but in the fall of 1880, Pierre goes off to boarding school. He writes Rose letters and her friends tease her about her “beau.” Rose tells them it’s just Pierre, nobody special. She doesn’t know that Pierre is in love with her.

Five years later, Rose is in school at the Sorbonne, living in a dorm with bohemians her parents would never approve of. Pierre lives nearby in a townhouse. Pierre doesn’t like the guy Rose has been seeing lately and tries to tell her he’s broken a lot of hearts, but Rose says she can take care of herself. Three months later, she comes to Pierre’s house in tears and says Leo was seeing two other women behind her back. Pierre wonders if he has a shot now, but Rose says she’s done with men for good.

When Rose and Pierre are about to graduate from college, Pierre finally tells Rose he loves her. She says she doesn’t believe in love, and Pierre walks away.

Things are chilly between them for a while, but two years later they’re as close as ever. Rose gets a letter from her mother telling her to come home for the weekend for a special party the Oiseleurs are throwing. Rose can’t wait to see Pierre again and thinks that maybe she’s ready to love him now. When she gets home, however, Pierre introduces her to Christianne, his fiancée.

In 1893, Rose’s first novel is published. To celebrate, her boyfriend, an American named Robert Eastman, proposes to her. Rose tells him she needs more time to think. She takes a walk and runs into Pierre. She hasn’t seen him since his wedding, and it pains her to see him with his wife and twin sons, but when he’s gone, she feels better. She tells Robert she’ll marry him. Five years later, in March of 1898, Isabelle Eastman is born.

Isabelle, 1914-1960

At sixteen, Isabelle goes to her first dance. There are lots of men in uniform there and one of them is the most handsome man Isabelle has ever seen. She wants to catch his attention, but before she can, a man named Charles Doret asks her to dance. From him, she finds out the handsome man’s name is Jacques Oiseleur. He never asks her to dance, but Isabelle can’t stop thinking about him. The next day, she skips school and goes to the barracks where the army men are staying. She finds Jacques and they go for a walk together.

They start seeing each other regularly, and Rose tells Isabelle to be careful. She says she knows Jacques comes from a good family and that she used to be good friends with a second cousin of his, but Jacques is in the army. If something happens, he’ll have to go to the front. Rose is afraid Isabelle will get hurt.

France and Germany go to war. Before Jacques is sent to the front, Isabelle wants to marry him. They get married without telling their families. A year later, Isabelle decides to go to the western front to be a nurse at the army hospital there. One of her patients is Charles Doret, who tells her Jacques is dead. Isabelle goes home to Paris. Charles is discharged because of a lack of hearing he’s suffering, and he takes Isabelle for a walk every day. He is the only one who knows Jacques and Isabelle were married. In 1917, Charles asks Isabelle to marry him. They get married, even though Isabelle knows she’ll never stop loving Jacques. In November of 1918, after the war has ended, Isabelle is sitting on the front porch of the house in which she and Charles live. A man in an army uniform comes limping up the road. Isabelle nearly faints when she sees it’s Jacques.

Jacques has been in a German prison camp this whole time. When he finds out Charles and Isabelle are married, he runs off feeling betrayed and hops on a boat to India. Charles, though it hurts him, vows to find Jacques for Isabelle. A few months later, Isabelle thinks they need to start over somewhere. Charles buys two tickets for America.

By 1924, Charles is mayor of Sweet Valley, California, and Isabelle is five months pregnant. They’re finally happy, but one day, while Isabelle is shopping in town, she sees Jacques. She sinks down onto a bench, and the town gossip, Evelyn Pearce (of course), rushes to her side to ask her what’s wrong. She says the man she just passed is Jack Fowler, a vagabond who lives on the other side of town. One day, Isabelle drives out to Jack’s ranch. She explains what happened back in France. Jack says he believes and forgives her, but he doesn’t love her anymore.

In 1952, Charles and Isabelle celebrate the birth of their granddaughter, Grace. After the party, they have an argument. Isabelle found out there was a zoning change that was approved, but Charles blocked it, all so Jack Fowler wouldn’t be able to sell his land to developers and make a ton of money. Charles says he’ll never stop hating Jack until Isabelle has forgotten about him. This is how their marriage has turned out. Jack’s ranch goes to ruins, and he and his wife, Anita, lose everything.

In 1960, Charles and Isabelle have a party at Secca Lake to celebrate their wedding anniversary. The Fowlers are there, on the other side of the lake. Jack and Charles end up having an argument that almost comes to blows. George Fowler is sixteen at the time, and he’s embarrassed for his grandfather. He’s tired of being poor, and he vows to make a success of his life.

Grace and George, 1971

George has worked hard, and by the time he’s twenty-seven, he has a successful computer company. He takes a break from the office one afternoon and goes to the beach, where he meets a pretty girl and asks her to dinner. When they meet that night and formally introduce themselves, they realize they’re supposed to be enemies since their grandfathers hate each other. They decide not to worry about that, and after one date, they’re in love.

Grace is actually engaged to another man, Everett Garrison III. She tells George that she isn’t really in love with him, but that their families have been pushing for the marriage. When Grace’s parents find out about George, they tell Grace they’ll disown her if she doesn’t stop seeing him. Grace doesn’t want that, so she stops speaking to George.

At her engagement party, Grace talks to her grandmother, Isabelle, who asks her if she really loves Everett. Grace says she’s not sure, and Isabelle tells her she should marry the man she loves. Not long later, George crashes the party. He finds Grace alone and gives her a ring. She says she’ll marry him. The next morning, Grace’s father is livid to find out that a computer company is buying out Doret Manufacturing’s stockholders and taking over. By the time he finds out George Fowler is behind it, Grace and George have already packed their bags. They hit the road, get married by a justice of the peace and hop on a plane to Paris.

Two years later, Lila is born. Jack Fowler and Isabelle Doret are the only family members who will come to the hospital to see her. Older and wiser now, they finally talk and both admit they never stopped loving each other.

In 1975, Grace takes Lila and goes to see her parents while George is on a business trip. When George finds out, he’s angry and tells her he doesn’t want Lila or Grace to have any contact with the Dorets. A few weeks later, Grace’s mother calls and says Isabelle has had a stroke and is in the hospital. George tells her she can’t go see her, and when Isabelle dies, Grace is angry with George for making her stay away.

George doesn’t want Grace to even go to the funeral, but she goes anyway, taking Lila and staying at her parents’ house for a few days. When the family gets back from the cemetery, there’s an envelope waiting for Grace. George is filing for divorce and suing for sole custody of Lila. Somehow, he wins. Grace is even denied visitation rights. When it’s all over, she decides staying in Sweet Valley is too painful if she can’t see her daughter, so she moves to France.

Fourteen years later, George is at a loss. A few months earlier, Lila was attacked by a boy named John, and since then, she’s been depressed. George knows she needs a mother, so for the first time ever, he calls Grace in France and asks her to come. She does, and Lila meets her mother for the first time. Grace and George fall in love all over again, and Grace dumps her boyfriend and remarries George.

Quotes:

Physically she was like a swan among more humble fowl – tall, willowy, and exceptionally pretty with fair skin and golden hair, whereas the Chardins were plain and dark, stocky and short.

Snobbery was alive and well in Lila’s family as early on as the 1800s.

A girl about Celeste’s age lounged on a velvet couch, stroking the head of a silky spaniel.

For no reason I can figure, this line made me think of Princess Mombi in Return to Oz.

Mombi5

The Cover: I think at the top left, that must be Jacques coming home from the war and making Isabelle faint. Next to them is Marc and Celeste in her maid uniform. Underneath them has to be Lili and the angry mob, and next to them is George, Grace and Lila, who is already wearing purple. Lined up on the right is probably Lili and Rose, then either Charles or Jacques, and then Lila.

SAGA - Fowler - Inner

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Comments
  • Jenna November 23, 2009 at 11:30 am

    I loved this book! Not only because I love Lila, but I’ve always loved books set during the French Rev. The Fowler saga completely pwns the Wakefield’s and the Patman Legacy. No joke.

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    Shannon Reply:

    It really is way better than the other sagas. The Patman one is just terrible.

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  • Sandy November 23, 2009 at 11:52 am

    Yes it was better than the Wakefield books. I just can’t figure out why…

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    Shannon Reply:

    I think it’s the lack of twins in every freaking generation that makes it better.

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  • Jenna November 23, 2009 at 11:58 am

    Perhaps Francine Pascal actually wrote this one? Or they hired a ghostwriter that actually had a little talent? I remember when I was being forced to donate my SVH collection I refused to give this one up,lol.

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    Shannon Reply:

    Aw, who forced you to donate your SVH collection?

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  • Megan November 23, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    OMG this was my favorite saga of them all. French Revolution! Classism galore! George Fowler and his fabulous open-collar shirt! *Another* illegitimate baby! (And wouldn’t all of Isabelle and Charles’ children have been so as well, since she was never divorced from Jacques or anything? His and Anita’s kids too?) ALL SO GLORIOUS.

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    Shannon Reply:

    Hey, good point about the illegitimate children. I guess they all would be. Don’t tell Lila, she’d freak out.

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    Megan Reply:

    She’d find a way to work it. She’s Lila!

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  • HelenB November 23, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    Haha, I remember this one and the terrible French puns. What drives me mental about all the Sagas is the way they all just use the same three names over and over again. I mean, really? No one in your family ever had an ounce of creativity in them?

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    Shannon Reply:

    I know, they all do that. And I hate how they change just slightly. The worst is Elisabeth and Jessamyn. Really? What the hell kind of name is Jessamyn?

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    Anonymous Reply:

    Just had to comment and say that my name’s Jessamyn. 😛 It’s unusual name and a pain in the ass to explain, but… we’re out there.

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    Shannon Reply:

    Wow, I had no idea it was a real name! Now I feel really bad for making fun of it.

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  • megan s. November 23, 2009 at 5:39 pm

    I didn’t know there was a Flower one!! Awesome!
    I’m sad I missed this one 🙁

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  • Lori November 23, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    This was the best out of the Sagas. I shouldn’t be surprised since its Lila. So are both Isabelle and Jacques kids bastards? I didn’t like the ending though. George so didn’t get what he deserved.

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  • Darren November 24, 2009 at 1:19 am

    This was the best book. Now I understood why the hospital was named Joshua Memorial….it was based on Mr. Fowler’s family. To me though, I would’ve had the Fowlers in Dallas, interracting with the Ewing family and having Mr. Fowler working briefly on the Ewing oil wells and then striking it rich and eventually moving to California. I also understand George’s brother had Lila’s cousins in Janet and Joe Howell (which were Sweet Valley Twins characters going to junior high with Jessica/Liz (Janet was an 8th grader when the twins debuted in junior high)). Interesting that the Fowlers had a feud with the Doret family (Which was Grace’s family) and also a rivalry with the patman family (which was never really explained though, unless that part is in the Bruce Patman saga.)

    I disagree on the ending, I thought George and Grace reuniting was good, and it obviously snapped Lila out of her funk with the episode of John Pfeiffer, and also the Jungle Prom with the counselor. Course by book 135 through 137, both Fowlers will be out of town and Lila about to face some big trouble of her own.

    That’s interesting: The Wakefields have a rose ring and a carving, the Fowlers had like a shrub bush that was planeted amongst the Fowler estate.

    You wonder though…think the Southern California fires eventually wiped out Sweet Valley?

    I thought the saga books were great, but I feel Wakefields on both the mother and father and also Lila were the best. Only thing interesting about the Patman story is what Marie Vanderbil(?)Patman looked like and she did look pretty.

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  • Karla January 13, 2010 at 8:06 pm

    Wait a sec! I thought the Fowlers were nouveau riche. What’s with all this blue-blooded ancestry?

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  • Kylie90210 July 19, 2010 at 12:08 am

    I love how even though Lila’s family is newly rich, there is still aristocratic heritage. Nice. Only befitting Lila!

    Definately the best saga, I just love it!

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  • Bailey November 27, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    i still think it’s awkward that all the ancestors loved each other. It’s like my grandma made out with your grandpa.

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  • Karen October 26, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    I loved this one the best, much better than the others!

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  • anonymous May 17, 2012 at 7:13 am

    love this saga!!!! <3

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  • Krista November 3, 2013 at 12:09 pm

    This was the only Saga I never read, kind of sorry now, it sounds so much better than the others (though the Patman one wasn’t too bad).

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  • Ladytuku December 10, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    why couldn’t they have done the Wilkins of Sweet Valley? im dying to know if Todd’s rage and posseive issues are stemmed from his family line 🙂

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  • Lila June 23, 2014 at 6:18 am

    The aristocrats are Graces line.

    George is the one who was poor although I guess his anscestors did have some money…

    Ahh well I love this saga! 🙂

    I also love how her name is same as mine 🙂
    Which is what got me into the series!

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  • Kim January 3, 2016 at 5:04 pm

    George sounds like a real jack ass, keeping his daughter away from her mother for no real reason. For going to the funeral of a dead relative? So stupid. For some reason I’m remembering Lila’s story differently, as she was not the biological daughter of George Fowler, but adopted by him, but maybe that’s just the backstory I made up in my head for Lila (I used to do that back in the day).

    “Physically she was like a swan among more humble fowl – tall, willowy, and exceptionally pretty with fair skin and golden hair, whereas the Chardins were plain and dark, stocky and short.”

    So fair skin and golden hair is “exceptionally pretty” whereas dark = plain? Yeah, I’m not even gonna get into the blatant white supremacy that runs rampant throughout these books.

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  • Natasha February 18, 2017 at 3:31 am

    Honestly what did Grace see in George Fowler? He’s a real jack ass.

    I loved this saga. My favourite one and yes why couldn’t they have done a Wilkins of Sweet Valley?

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  • Dane Youssef May 9, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Gotta love that end-paper, though…

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  • Dane Youssef May 9, 2017 at 8:26 pm

    You know, whenever there’s a serial killer on the loose, I notice they don’t particularly take enough lives…

    … or kill the right people…

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  • anon May 14, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    George Fowler is not Lila’s real father, according to the write up they had in one of the early books.

    [Reply]

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