Sweet Valley Saga: The Patmans of Sweet Valley
Sixteen-year-old Lady Sophie Edmonton lives on a “grand estate in the English countryside” and her father is itching to find her a husband. Sophie sneaks off for a swim in the lake one day and meets Henry Patman. She immediately falls in love. Ugh, do all these sagas have to be the same? Sophie and Henry begin meeting in secret, and seven weeks later they decide to get married. Sophie’s father is an important duke and they know no clergyman will marry them, so they decide to sneak out Saturday night and ride into another town where nobody knows who Sophie is. The night they’re supposed to leave, Sophie discovers her diary is missing. Her plan has been discovered and when she and Henry try to leave, they’re stopped by the duke. Sophie’s father has Henry arrested and deported. A year later, Sophie marries Lord Charles Elliot. Twenty years after that, Sophie’s sixteen-year-old daughter, Emma, announces she wants to be an actress. Charles refuses to let her.
Henry Patman, 1825-1839
Henry doesn’t do so well in America. He scrounges along for thirteen years doing odd jobs and losing poker games. Then some guys he owes money to threaten his life and Henry knows he needs to get out of New York. He finally sells the locket Sophie gave him, and it seems to bring him luck. He goes to a poker game and ends up winning a plantation, complete with a house and employees, in Georgia.
Emma Elliot, 1851-1852
When Emma turns twenty-one, her father announces he’s made a match for her and she’ll be marrying some earl or duke or something. Sophie knows Emma is unhappy about this, so she gives her a bunch of money she’s been saving and tells her to run away and try to make it as an actress. So Emma changes her name to Vanessa and goes off to London. One night, Vanessa gets lost and wanders into a bad section of town. A couple of guys attack her and knock her out. When she wakes up, a bobby named Patrick O’Sullivan takes her to his mother’s house since the thugs took her purse. Patrick’s mother, Maggie, takes Vanessa in and tells her to stay as long as she likes.
Patrick falls in love with Vanessa and at Christmas, he asks her to marry him. She accepts, but the next day she lands an acting gig with a traveling theater troupe. She takes it and leaves. By July, Vanessa and her director, Grady Philips, have fallen in love. When Grady proposes, he confesses that he’s not really just a poor actor and director. His father is a marquess. Vanessa laughs and says her father is an earl. They take this as a sign that they are meant to be together.
James Patman, 1861-1864
When Georgia secedes from the union in 1861, Henry’s son James is the only member of his family who thinks slavery is wrong. He packs his bags and leaves the plantation to go join the Union army. He starts leading slaves north and falls in love with one of them. Her name is Hope, and James marries her before the end of the year. The following April, Hope is seven months pregnant and in no condition to help James as he guides fleeing slaves. He leaves Hope at a safe house, a friend’s plantation, for two days. When he comes back, he finds the plantation owners hanged and Hope shot.
In 1864, James makes his way to the plantation where he grew up. It’s a ruin now, but the old butler, Angus, is hanging around. He tells James that Henry died at Shiloh in 1862 and his brother died at Gettysburg. With no family left, James decides to move west.
Sixteen-year-old Katherine Richmond is Emma/Vanessa’s granddaughter and an actress just like her parents and grandmother. Katherine is offered the chance to tour America with the Royal Shakespeare Company. In Kansas, she meets John Patman, who works at the bar next door to the theater. They fall in love over the next two weeks and John plans to give her an engagement ring on her last night in Kansas and hopefully convince her not to go back to London. Unfortunately, the bar is held up and John is locked in the store room. John’s boss is due to arrive at eleven, but Katherine is supposed to leave on the eleven o’clock train. He gets to the train station just in time to see the train disappear.
A week later, Katherine is in New York. She reads a newspaper article about a couple of bandits and finds out John wasn’t at her last performance because he was tied up in the back room at the saloon. She hops a train back to Kansas and goes to John’s house, but John’s brother, Brewster, tells her John left town the day after Katherine left for New York. Brewster has no idea where he is. Katherine goes back to New York and receives a telegram at the hotel. Her family’s theater in London has burned down, killing her entire family.
John Patman, 1890
John wanders around out west until he meets a cowgirl named Samantha Parker. They get married in 1890 and file a homestead claim in Texas. By 1893, they’re suffering pretty badly and John is thinking of leaving the ranch to go to San Antonio to find work. In preparation for leaving Samantha alone with little Johnny, John starts digging a well and finds oil.
William Patman, 1924
John’s youngest son, William (or, as I like to call him, Bruce ver. 1.0), is in his last year at Harvard when he falls in love with Helena Howard. His friend Frederick has to teach him how to not be a total ass all the time. William eventually asks Helena to marry him and she accepts. Helena gives birth to her son Paul on New Year’s Day 1927, but the baby dies tragically six weeks later.
Cassandra LeMov, 1941-early 1950s
Katherine Richmond married late in life, and in 1941 her twenty-nine-year-old daughter, Cassandra, gets her medical degree and decides to go to Europe to work on the wounded soldiers. Two years later, she falls in love with Spencer Light, one of her patients, and they get married. A few months later, Spencer dies and Cassandra has a miscarriage.
Cassandra goes back to New York City after the war, and in 1945, Spencer’s best friend, Peter Vanderhorn, comes to see her. They begin to see each other regularly, but when Peter asks Cassandra to marry him, she turns him down because she can’t have children. He says it doesn’t matter and they get married. Eventually, Cassandra proves the doctors wrong and gives birth to Marie.
Reginald Alexander Rainer, 1946-early 1950s
Reginald is a poor kid from L.A. who manages to make it to Harvard. After his graduation, he gets a job at Patman Investments in New York and takes an instant liking to his boss, William Patman. William takes Reginald home with him for Thanksgiving, and Helena is weirded out when she notices how similar William and Reginald look. After some investigating, it comes out that Reggie and Paul were born around the same time at the same hospital, and they got switched. Reggie becomes a Patman and marries his girlfriend, May Chandler. A few years later, Henry Patman is born.
Marie Vanderhorn and Henry Patman, late 1960s
Marie and Henry are high school sweethearts, but Marie is diagnosed with leukemia just before graduation. She doesn’t want to tell Henry and have him worry about her, so he goes on the cross-country roadtrip he’s been planning thinking Marie is just anemic. At some point during his trip, Hank gets a letter from Marie. She’s breaking up with him. Hank decides not to go back east. He’ll stay in California. This is totally stupid since the Wakefield saga has him going to high school in Sweet Valley with Ned, but whatever. Four years later, Marie is in Los Angeles and she runs into Hank. They make up, get married and then Bruce is born.
The Cover: I couldn’t even tell you who these people are. I’m thinking that’s Sophie and the OG Henry in the middle. Top left must be John dancing around because of the oil. The actress could be Emma/Vanessa or Katherine. I have no idea who that’s supposed to be in the bottom left. The chick’s shirt is kind of hippie-ish, so maybe that’s Alice and Hank? And the lineup on the right…my guess is Sophie, John, Marie and Bruce. I guess.