A Novel Idea: The Early Years of DOOL
A few months back, I had the really not-weird-at-all impulse to buy a whole bunch of Days novelizations with the intention of blogging about them. These books were published under the “Soaps and Serials” banner in the mid-80s, at the height of soap opera hysteria in popular culture. I found an interesting article on the genesis of the business model; it seems like they were trying to crank out one per month, which probably necessitated some ghost-writing and might explain some of the, er, inconsistencies I’ll get into below. Also, they either didn’t do that well or they were too much work, because they stop somewhat abruptly at a pretty weird point in the story.
I did eventually track down the first book in the series for a few bucks, but for some reason, #13 has been entirely elusive. The few listings for it online are outrageously priced — like, 70-something dollars, which is a sharp contrast to the $0.01 to $1.20 I paid for the rest. I haven’t been able to figure out why in the hell that one is priced so much higher. As far as I can tell, though, I have the complete series otherwise; I can’t find any record of any being published beyond #14.
They made for great, easy bedtime reading — it’s been a while since I had physical books to read in bed instead of my iPad, and I had kind of forgotten how much more relaxing paper is than that damn light from the screen — and I kept notes as I went along. These are definitely novelizations based on what aired on TV, rather than expansions of the storyline or non-canonical ‘extras,’ but the publishers clearly took some liberties. Some make sense, as far as compressing scenes to get certain plot points across without the benefit of five episodes per week to tell the stories, while others left me scratching my head.
Oh, and there was a lot of talk (including from me) about what a strange choice it was to celebrate the show’s 50th anniversary with a serial killer storyline, but as I read these books, I realized that it might as well be a nod to the show’s origins, considering the way that people seemed to drop like flies around the Hortons in the early years…
#1: LOVE’S SHATTERED DREAMS
The Story: Marie Horton, the youngest of Tom and Alice’s five children, is blissfully in love with her fiancé, medical student Tony Merritt, as their wedding approaches. Tony, however, is suffering from regular nosebleeds. In Boston, he sees a doctor who suspects that Tony has a rare blood disorder — which Tony, thanks to his medical knowledge, deduces is actually leukemia. He does not call Marie for several days, as he fears burdening her with this news, and when he finally does call her, he lies that he does not love her and cannot marry her. A despondent Marie attempts suicide by swallowing a variety of medications. Her niece, Julie, finds her in the bathroom and calls for her grandfather, Tom — who has just received an emergency call from Arlene Sawyer, the wife of a patient who has been reluctant to heed Tom’s advice about his eating and drinking habits. When he sees Marie, Tom springs into action and manages to save her life. Only once she is settled does he realize that he forgot about Carl Sawyer. He races to the Sawyers’ house, but more than two hours have passed, and Carl is dead.
Marie Horton (Maree Cheatham) at the outset of the series.
Julie, the oldest Horton grandchild, is left to her own devices when her parents, high-powered banker Ben Olsen and his wife, Addie, take off on yet another trip to Europe. Julie has been spending a lot of time with a new girl at school, Susan Hunter, who gets a thrill out of shoplifting. When Susan dares Julie to steal a pillbox hat from Blessington’s Department Store, Julie is caught and arrested. Ben and Addie rush home, and Ben wants to pull strings and hire an attorney more impressive than Addie’s brother, Mickey. Julie requests that Mickey represent her, however, and in court, the judge takes note of Ben and Addie’s behavior and prescribes that Julie be removed from the home before she permanently heads down a dark path. Mickey negotiates the terms so that Julie can stay with Tom and Alice for a few months, and she manages to focus on her studies and mature.
Arlene Sawyer enlists an attorney and sues Tom for malpractice in her husband’s death. Tom is reluctant to tell the truth about what happened that night for fear of damaging Marie’s reputation and harming her fragile emotional state. Tony remains in Boston, undergoing treatment, without revealing the truth about his condition to his father, Craig, or to Marie. Craig goes to Boston and, finding a disheveled Tony with his friend, Lil, assumes he has gotten into drugs and chosen this lifestyle over Marie. Before Tony can explain, Craig returns to Salem. His bond with the Hortons deepens, and he tries to help Marie get back to her regular life. Tom’s lawsuit goes to court, and Marie barges in and tells the judge the truth about the night Carl Sawyer died. The judge dismisses the suit, and Tom’s career is saved.
Some Things Never Change: As far back as 1965, Salemites have apparently had trouble with jumping to conclusions. Nowhere is this illustrated to better — and more hilarious — effect than the absolutely bonkers scene in which Craig walks in on his son, Tony, assumes that he has become a drug-addled hippie (because of his gaunt face, layered clothing, and scraggly hair under a cap), and races back to Salem before Tony can explain that he has leukemia. And this passage might be the most uproarious thing in the entire series.
“Wild and irresponsible things”! Like eating brown rice!
Also, Craig comes off like a real creep. He’s super-attached to the Hortons and to Marie in particular, and he seems far less concerned with his son’s well being than he does with Marie’s. I felt like he was one step away from telling Tony, “On your wedding night, it’s probably best if I’m in the honeymoon suite to coach you two young lovebirds along!”
Salem was apparently within reasonable driving distance of Boston at this time, although based on some stuff that pops up in later books, I think the author might have just decided it was Salem, Massachusetts, instead of Salem, Probably-Illinois-But-We-Won’t-Say-For-Certain.
#2: HEARTS PAST REASON
The Story: After being dumped by Tony, Marie grows close to his widowed father, Craig, and accepts his marriage proposal. Tony, who has been hiding away in Boston, learns his leukemia has gone into remission and is transferred back to Salem under Tom’s care. Marie learns the truth about why Tony left and begins visiting him at his treatment facility. Unable to deny her feelings, she comes clean with Craig and reunites with Tony.
Julie’s romance with David Martin heats up, while her friend Susan Hunter grows more and more fixated on how her father left their family. Susan steals from her mother to pay for a trip to New York and is horrified when her father rejects her. Despondent, she returns to Salem. Meanwhile, Tom and the hospital staff are baffled by a strange new illness causing deaths, and things come to a head when Julie falls ill with the mysterious “Waterside Syndrome.” Mickey becomes the in-house counsel for Woodridge Industries, which is linked to water contamination found to be causing the illness. Julie survives, but the case causes tension between Mickey and Tom, who brings forth a lawsuit against Woodridge Industries.
Susan seduces a drunken David. When Susan learns she’s pregnant, Julie tells David that he must marry Susan to make the baby legitimate. Susan agrees that they’ll divorce once the baby is born, but after she gives birth to Davy, she has no intention of letting David go. As the marriage fractures, Julie and David make love. David takes Davy to the park one day and, in a horrible accident, the baby falls out of a swing and dies. Mad with grief, Susan picks up a shotgun and shoots David dead.
Unreal Estate: It was interesting to be reading this right around the time of the show’s 50th anniversary, because the name Martin was uttered onscreen for the first time in what had to be decades — in the context of the family’s old mansion, said to be “the first mansion” in Salem, being renovated as the site for the town’s bicentennial celebration. There’s a lot made in this book, though, about how David comes from nearby Woodridge and is much more middle-class than Julie: he works at a service station, plays in a rock band, etc. I’ve read some recaps from around the same time that make it pretty clear that David’s parents were upper-class and looked down on Susan because of her social standing, so this was probably just an invention of the author.
Continuity Police: For some reason, Susan and David’s son is named Davy here, even though he was called Dickie (after Susan’s father, Richard) on the show, which gets sort of confusing when another David pops up not too far down the road…
Body Count: Excepting the first book’s Carl Sawyer and the anonymous victims of Waterside Syndrome, we rack up our first two deaths here, with little Davy/Dickie Martin and then David Martin. But that’s only a glimpse at what’s to come…
#3: SEARCH FOR LOVE
Laura Spencer (Susan Flannery) and Mickey Horton (John Clarke) in happy times.
The Story: Mickey is hired to defend Susan in her trial for David’s murder, and he recruits Dr. Laura Spencer — the woman whom his brother, Bill, abandoned when he fled to California — to aid in the case as a psychiatric professional. As they work together, they grow closer, and they manage to have Susan found not guilty by reason of insanity. Mickey and Laura marry.
Tony Merritt succumbs to his leukemia. Meanwhile, after fleeing Salem because of a medical condition that left him unable to perform surgery, Bill has been working in California with wounded veterans. He finally decides to return to Salem and brings with him Mark Brooks, a vet suffering from amnesia who needs major surgery. Widowed and heartbroken, Marie busies herself by working with Mark to help with his memory. They develop a strong bond that is becoming romantic — just as Mark’s memory comes rushing back, and he realizes that he is Marie’s presumed-dead brother, Tommy Horton. Marie, feeling lost, finds solace at a nearby convent and eventually becomes a nun.
Bill seethes at the news that the woman he loves, Laura, is now married to his brother. His rage builds, and one night, he rapes Laura in her office. Laura keeps the rape to herself and soon discovers she is pregnant. She confides in Tom after he tells her that, per recent medical tests, Mickey is sterile and cannot be the child’s father. Laura gives birth to a son, Michael; she and Tom agree to keep the secret rather than destroying the family.
Tommy’s “widow,” Kitty, comes to Salem with their daughter, Sandy, to reunite with Tommy. Kitty, a spiteful woman, catches wind of some impropriety between Bill and Laura, and she confronts Bill and threatens to go public with it. Bill attempts to (literally) shake some sense into her, and due to a medical condition, Kitty dies. Bill stands trial and, unwilling to make public that Michael could be his son, is sentenced to prison time for involuntary manslaughter in Kitty’s death.
Julie learns that she is pregnant with David Martin’s baby. She goes to Paris to see her parents, and her father, Ben, is horrified that her illegitimate pregnancy will ruin his big plans for her. Back home, Julie goes to stay with Alice’s sister, Martha, until she gives birth to a baby boy. She gives the child up for adoption to Scott and Janet Banning, and then she goes on vacation to Florida to clear her mind and returns hoping for a fresh start.
Hello, It’s Me: This marks the first appearance of Laura Spencer, which is bizarre because we didn’t get to see her engagement to Bill or his abandonment of her before this. The rape is really— look, it was a different time, but it’s so gross that they had Bill coldly rape her and tried to play that as an obstacle in what turned out to be a larger love story. At least EJ and Sami were always played as a pair of fucked-up maniacs!
This book is the only one in the series that spends any significant time on Tommy Horton’s branch of the family. Tommy appears in only one other book, I believe. As for Marie, she never appears again. (On the show, I believe that she left Salem for a while and returned as a nun, so there was a window to fill in the later retcon that she’d had an affair with Alex Marshall and conceived a daughter.) It makes it easy to understand how, despite the way the show still reveres them, the Hortons lost prominence faster than they probably should have — the only descendants who have consistent, long-term story are Mickey, Bill, and Julie.
Some Things Never Change: There’s a humorously un-subtle sequence, once Julie returns from Florida, where they go way over-the-top describing how different and mature and whatever she seems now. They might as well have just stamped on the page, “This is when Susan Seaforth Hayes started playing Julie!!!!”
Body Count: We’re really rolling now! Tony and Kitty bring our total up to 4.
#4: SENTIMENTAL LONGINGS
The Story: Susan inherits a sizable amount of money after the passing of David’s wealthy uncle. She buys a house outside Salem and winds up as the neighbor to Scott and Janet Banning — the couple who adopted Julie’s baby and named him Brad. Susan feels drawn to the child, who resembles her late son. Janet falls ill and dies.
Julie also comes into a significant inheritance when her father, Ben Olson, dies in Europe. While her newly widowed mother, Addie, travels around with a new boytoy, Julie catches wind of Susan’s developing relationship with Scott Banning. Julie sues for custody and wins on the basis that she did not agree to have her child raised by a single father. After winning custody and renaming the baby David, Julie proposes to Scott that they marry so that he can be a part of David’s life. Scott agrees, leaving Susan behind.
In prison, Bill befriends a man named Doug Williams and tells him all about Susan’s story. Upon his release, Doug heads for Salem and smooth-talks his way into a job as a realtor, which he uses as a front for targeting Susan and her money. She sees through him but offers to pay him to seduce Julie, which Doug handily does. Julie and Doug quickly fall in love. Addie arrives in Salem and catches wind of Julie’s affair. Using her search for a home as a pretense, she gets to know Doug. Julie learns the truth from Susan about how she hired Doug and breaks up with him. Devastated, a rebounding Doug agrees to marry Addie, to whom he has grown quite close. Julie is stunned when she learns the news and makes plans to divorce Scott, but before she can, he is killed in an accident at a construction site.
Bill is released from prison, and Laura winds up having to spearhead his appeal to be reinstated by the medical board. With Tommy’s testimony, her efforts are successful, but Laura fears that she will never be free of her complicated history with Bill.
Susan Martin (Denise Alexander), Doug Williams (Bill Hayes),
and Julie Olsen Banning (Susan Seaforth)
Time is But an Illusion: Julie and Susan both get a sort of SORASing here, in that they’re both played much more as adults than as teenagers, even though mere months have passed and shouldn’t be more than 18 or 19.
Hello, It’s Me: I knew about Doug’s origins, but he really is such a con man here, and it’s a lot of fun. You buy that he has a heart, even if he’s doing shady things to get by.
Body Count: Janet, Ben, and Scott all bite it in this one, bringing our total number of significant deaths to 7. Everyone stay away from Julie and/or Susan!
#5: PASSION’S LURE
The Story: Susan Martin, who is now running Salem’s free clinic, is plagued by memories of how she was raped in the park on the night that Scott left her for Julie. She meets and grows close to Greg Peters, a new doctor hired at the clinic. When Susan learns that she is pregnant — and suffering from cancer that will make it impossible for her to bear any more children — she decides to keep the baby but cannot tell Greg about the rape. When Laura and Alice tell him the truth, he vows to stand by her.
Greg’s brother, Eric, arrives, and Susan recognizes him as the man who assaulted her. Eric, an author, shares a copy of his upcoming novel in which he asserts that their encounter was not a rape, but consensual. Through her sessions with Laura, Susan eventually realizes that this is the truth, but not before Greg pummels Eric for what he has done. Greg is arrested, and Susan comes clean with him. Greg leaves her, but after being convinced that he is the one whom Susan loves, asks her to marry him. But Eric returns to taunt them, even as they try to celebrate and look to the future.
Still reeling from Scott’s death and Doug’s elopement with Addie, Julie finds solace in her friendship with an older couple, Bob and Phyllis Anderson, whose daughter, Mary, was a classmate of Julie’s. Addie buys a nightclub for Doug to run and sing at, which they name Doug’s Place. Julie makes a variety of scenes as she attempts to convince Doug that they belong together. Addie reveals to Doug that she is expecting a baby, and when Julie learns the news, she is crushed. Meanwhile, Bob Anderson begins making advances on Julie, buying her lavish gifts and telling her that they could have a future together. Julie rejects him but feels guilty when Phyllis, whom she has come to regard as a mother figure, confesses that she knows Bob is having an affair.
Time is But an Illusion: The book goes out of its way to talk about how Scott left Susan to marry Julie two months ago. Let me get this straight: in the space of two months, Scott married Julie, Doug came to Salem, Susan pointed him toward Julie, he seduced and fell in love with Julie, Scott died, and Doug met and married Addie? It was so confusing that I thought I’d missed a book for a while. Are we sure Josh Griffith and Dena Higley weren’t writing in 1970?!
Also, Julie comes off like a complete lunatic, chasing after Doug the way she does. Take a Xanax and/or pay attention to your kid!
Some Things Never Change: Doctor-patient confidentiality has often been kind of a loose concept in Salem, but never has it been violated in such a jaw-dropping manner as the scene in this book in which Alice Horton and Laura — Susan’s therapist! — march over to Greg’s to tell him to take Susan back because she was raped! You would think Laura, who was herself a rape victim who’d chosen not to broadcast the news, would be a little more understanding about Susan’s situation. There’s no way it happened like this on the actual show, right?
Hello, It’s Me: In addition to the introductions of the Peters brothers and the Anderson family (who are written as if they’ve been there all along — I wonder if it felt like that on the show, too), both Don Craig and Dr. Neil Curtis, who would go on to be major characters into the 80s, first appear in this book.
Tom (Macdonald Carey) and Alice Horton (Frances Reid) taking a
break from wondering how their kids turned out to be such messes.
#6: FORSAKEN DREAMS
The Story: Despite her marriage to Mickey, Laura has been spending more and more time with Bill at the hospital, and though they have not crossed the line into having an affair, they are unable to deny their deep feelings for one another. Mickey grows increasingly suspicious and refuses to believe Laura when she insists that she has remained faithful to him. Michael, who is now a much older child, overhears Laura and Bill discussing their feelings and races out of the house, only to be hit by a car. Bill has to operate on his own son but is unable to reveal to anyone that Michael is his child. Michael survives, but a spiteful Mickey begins an affair with his secretary, Linda Patterson. She gets pregnant and tells Mickey that the child is his, but when she gives birth to a daughter, Melissa, the bloodwork reveals that Mickey cannot be the child’s father.
When Michael learns about Mickey’s affair, he turns on the man he thinks is his father. Mickey suffers a heart attack, and Bill must operate to save him. He does, but while Mickey is in the hospital recovering, his bitterness continues, culminating in a stroke. While everyone is at Greg and Susan’s wedding, Mickey awakens with no memory and leaves the hospital. He hitchhikes to a town called Brookville, where he comes upon a farm run by a young woman named Maggie Simmons, who lost the use of her legs in an accident that killed her parents. Calling himself Marty Hansen because of the initials on his belt buckle, Mickey takes a job on the farm. Back in Salem, his family remains desperate to find out what has become of him. Maggie and “Marty” fall in love, but she reads in the paper about a man named Mickey Horton whose family is looking for him, and, afraid of losing him, she decides to keep the truth to herself, at least for the time being…
Hello, It’s Me: I can see why Maggie took off as a character and why Maggie/Mickey became a popular pairing. She’s an interesting mix of innocent but scrappy. Kind of fascinating to read about her origins and then contrast that with the present-day show, where she’s Mrs. Victor Kiriakis.
Inside Out: The Mickey/Laura/Bill triangle had a couple of books off, and now that it’s back, the shift is extreme. Suddenly Mickey is the bad guy here. I guess we’re supposed to believe that, by going to prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Bill in essence paid for his rape of Laura, but they’re suddenly selling them as star-crossed lovers.
Body Count: Despite a variety of accidents and medical crises, not a single person dies in the course of this book! It’s a miracle.
#7: RED SKY AT DAWN
The Story: Julie is now engaged to Don Craig, while pregnant Addie learns that she is suffering from leukemia. She vows to carry the child to term, even if it means foregoing treatment and losing her own life. When Julie learns of her mother’s illness, they finally make amends, and Addie asks Julie to be with Doug and help him raise the child. Addie gives birth to a daughter, whom they name Hope, and Julie breaks off her engagement to Don.
Bob Anderson has left his wife, Phyllis, and continues his dogged pursuit of Julie, who tries to rebuff him. Julie tries to be a friend to the increasingly nasty and erratic Phyllis, who accuses Julie of having destroyed her marriage. Addie shocks everyone by going into remission. Julie is torn over happiness for her mother’s positive prognosis and anguish over the knowledge that she will not be able to be with Doug. In her devastation, she agrees to marry Bob, who promises her security and adoration, even though she doesn’t love him.
Armed with a gun, a crazed Phyllis goes to confront Bob and Julie, but in the fracas, she accidentally shoots her own daughter. Luckily, Mary is only hit in the shoulder. Doug and Addie settle into life with their new daughter, but tragedy strikes when Addie — racing to push Hope’s carriage out of the way of oncoming traffic — is struck by a vehicle. Before she dies of her injuries, Addie gives Doug her blessing to be with Julie. In their grief, Doug and Julie come together, but it is once again too late for them, as she is now Mrs. Bob Anderson.
Mama Drama: This was actually the first one I read (I got it as a gift, and it’s what inspired me to track down the rest of the series). I was really impressed by the way they sold the Julie/Doug/Addie situation. It somehow didn’t feel tawdry, and I genuinely felt that Doug loved Addie and their life together.
Some Things Never Change: After her marriage of convenience to Scott, you’d think Julie might have learned something, and she wisely calls off her engagement to Don. But then she turns right around and marries Bob, who had been behaving like such a creep that she should’ve gotten a restraining order instead of a marriage license.
Body Count: Addie’s death brings the tally to 8. She’s also the first biological Horton to die.
#8: THE SUMMER WIND
The Story: A few months after Addie’s passing, Julie continues to pine for Doug, as her marriage to Bob settles into a dull rhythm. Doug has generally cut himself off from everyone and is focused on running Doug’s Place, while Hope stays with Tom and Alice. While Phyllis (now recovering from her nervous breakdown) continues to lean on Bob for support, Bob grows more and more suspicious that Julie is being unfaithful to him and even strikes her after a party at their home. Julie decides to divorce him.
Doug travels to New York and recruits a new singer for Doug’s Place, Robert LeClaire. Julie heads to New York and has a romantic reunion with Doug. They pledge to be together. Back in Salem, Julie learns that she is pregnant with Bob’s child; Doug overhears and tells Julie that he doesn’t want to be with her, so that she will remain in her marriage. A heartbroken Julie calls off the divorce. Doug decides to give Hope a sibling via a surrogate, and in the meantime, he hires a young woman named Rebecca North to be Hope’s nanny. Meanwhile, Rebecca — whose fiancé, Johnny, is in Paris — is recruited by Dr. Neil Curtis to be the egg donor and surrogate for an anonymous man… who is, of course, Doug. Robert and Rebecca begin to connect. When Johnny, who is initially thrilled that Rebecca will be earning so much money, learns that she is carrying another man’s baby, he breaks off the engagement. Rebecca becomes attached to the child growing inside her and tells Neil that she can’t give the baby up; Neil tells Doug that the surrogate has backed out. Rebecca accepts Robert’s marriage proposal.
In Mickey’s continued absence, Laura and Bill are now living as a couple, much to the displeasure of her (their) son, Michael. The Hortons fear that Mickey might be dead but hold out hope for his return. After spotting a grainy photo of “Marty Hansen” in the newspaper, Tom takes off to track the man down and eventually comes to the farm. Maggie tries to lie to him, but Tom catches her in the lie, and Mickey is furious to know that she hid news of his past from him. Michael is hopeful that Mickey will return to Salem and remember him, but when Mickey attends a party at the Hortons’, he feels overwhelmed. Maggie comes to support him, and he returns to Brookville with her. He also agrees to grant Laura a divorce, freeing her to marry Bill. Upset, Michael runs away from home.
Rebecca North (Brooke Bundy) and Robert LeClaire (Robert Clary)
Some Things Never Change: The amount of contrivance necessary to make the Doug/Rebecca thing happen was… well, very familiar to me, as a person who’s watched Days since the mid-90s. I’m still not clear what the plan was for this story, since Rebecca and Robert left the show in 1977, Doug found out Dougie was his son a few years later (after Rebecca died offscreen), and then… nothing really happened and Dougie was never used again?
Continuity Police: They spell it as “LeClaire” throughout this book, even though everything else Days-related has Robert’s last name as “LeClair,” and it’s driving the OCD part of me insane to type it “wrong” for this recap.
Keeping It in the Family: I get that Mickey’s disappeared, but doesn’t it seem a little insensitive that it’s only been a few months and Laura has moved Bill into the house she shared with Mickey, where her son lives?
Time is But an Illusion: Michael (who isn’t really called “Mike” yet) is a teenager now. This is 1975-ish, so he should be seven years old. It doesn’t feel too weird because the parents involved are two doctors and a lawyer, but there’s another doozy coming…
#9: FRIENDS AND LOVERS
The Story: After spending the night outdoors, Michael gets a job at a gas station. He meets a young woman named Trish Clayton, who is having trouble at home with her stepfather, Jack. Trish helps Michael find a cheap little apartment and eventually moves in with him as platonic roommates. Jack continues to bother Trish and intimidate Michael, and Trish’s mother Jeri takes her husband’s side. One night, Trish gets a bottle of champagne, which she shares with Michael. In a charged moment, he kisses her, which causes Trish to run and lock herself in the bedroom. Depressed because of the chasm in their friendship, Michael returns to Salem to see Laura for advice. They tentatively reconcile, and Michael even extends an olive branch to Bill. When he apologizes to Trish and explains himself, she is flattered that he has feelings for her and kisses him back.
Greg and Susan’s marriage is coming apart at the seams. Greg is now in private practice with Neil Curtis, who is secretly having an affair with Amanda Howard, a beautiful woman whose much older husband, Charles, is dying. Greg is taken with fragile Amanda when he meets her, too. Due to his out-of-control gambling, Neil has loan shark Jimmy Sentra breathing down his neck — a fact that he is desperate to conceal from Greg and Amanda. After Charles dies, Amanda hopes they can be together, but Neil is preoccupied by his debts. He gets beaten up by Sentra and his men, but Amanda finds him and tends to his injuries. Neil proposes to her, and they make plans to marry. On the night before the wedding, Amanda decides to crash Neil’s bachelor party and is horrified to find him in bed with a prostitute. Despondent, she is about to commit suicide when Greg races in and saves her. Greg warns Neil to stay away from Amanda, and she makes it clear to Neil that the relationship is over. Meanwhile, Susan becomes suspicious that Greg is seeing someone else, and she decides that she will not lose him.
Julie’s now-adult son, David, returns to Salem with a new girlfriend, Brooke Hamilton. They are intent upon getting the money that David is owed from his father’s estate, even though he isn’t quite 21 yet. David resents Julie for having been in love with Doug the entire time she was married to his adoptive father, Scott Banning. David is surprised to see that Julie is expecting a child with her new husband, Bob Anderson, and slowly his efforts to play nice give way to genuine affection for Julie, making Brooke jealous. While visiting her alcoholic mother, Adele, in her hometown of Ash Grove, Brooke is stunned when Adele slurs that Brooke’s biological father is a man named Bob Anderson from Salem. David’s illusions about Julie are shattered when he catches her and Doug in a close moment, and he steals Doug’s car and veers off a cliff. Julie goes into a state of deep mourning when David is presumed dead. Bob is shocked to receive a delivery from a lawyer in Ash Grove, notifying him that Adele has passed away; included is a letter informing him that he is Brooke’s father. Bob welcomes Brooke (who has rattled herself after going on a dangerous bender in her grief) back into the house, though they keep the news from Julie and from Bob’s daughter, Mary, for the time being — but Mary is immediately suspicious of Brooke.
Time is But an Illusion: Okay, the fact that David is now an adult (they all but state that he is 20 years old here) was such a mind-fuck that I actually found it difficult to keep reading. They keep going out of their way to talk about how young Julie is, and how Bob is an older man on his second marriage, etc., but then she has this 20-year-old son running around, so she can’t plausibly be any younger than 35. Was anyone watching the show then? Did this seem as absolutely ridiculous as it felt in this book? If you really want your brain to explode, think about this: they’ve established that Bob’s daughter, Mary, was a classmate of Julie’s. Brooke has to be older than Mary, because she was conceived before Bob married Phyllis. Brooke is roughly the same age as Julie’s son. So does that mean Julie’s son is actually older than her?!
David Banning (Richard Guthrie) and Trish Clayton (Patty Weaver)
in the late 70s. That is a grown-ass man!
Continuity Police: This book mentions that Susan miscarried Eric Peters’s baby. On the show, she had a daughter, Annie. I have no idea why they would’ve made this change — it’s definitely the biggest switch from what aired onscreen.
Hello, It’s Me: Trish Clayton became a pretty big deal on the show — she’s eventually the mother of the very first great-great-grandchild of Tom and Alice Horton — but this is the most attention she ever gets in the book series. I was hoping they’d get into all her multiple-personality business and Jack Clayton’s death, but the focus stays pretty squarely with Michael’s POV here. We also meet Brooke Hamilton, who went on to be a pretty serious vixen for a few years and got what was, at the time, a shocking “back from the dead with plastic surgery” storyline.
Body Count: Charles Howard bites the big one (interestingly, he’s seen alive here, but it doesn’t appear he was ever shown on TV), which brings the death toll to 9. At least someone died who wasn’t connected to Julie in some way! The same isn’t true for Adele Hamilton and David Banning, whose Julie-adjacent deaths take us to 11.
#10: PROMISES AND LIES
The Story: Suspicious of the attention that his father is lavishing upon Brooke, Mary Anderson takes off for Ash Grove to look into Brooke’s background. Meanwhile, Brooke keeps insisting that she has seen the presumed-dead David down by the waterfront, and she spends her nights trolling bars, hoping to see him again. Julie follows Brooke in hopes of finding David, and one night, she sees him — and the shock causes her to fall down a flight of stairs, resulting in a miscarriage. After losing the baby, Julie tells Bob that she wants a divorce. She and Doug finally reunite, and Julie is stunned when David returns home, very much alive. A woman named Kim Douglas comes to Salem in search of her husband, a man named Brent Douglas, and her quest leads her right to Doug’s Place…
Fed up with the attention he is lavishing upon Amanda Howard, Susan divorces Greg. Amanda continues to long for Neil, even though he broke her heart the night before their wedding. Neil forges a friendship with Phyllis Anderson and, with loan sharks breathing down his neck, proposes to her. They marry, and Phyllis discovers that she is pregnant with Neil’s child; he uses some of her money to repay his debts and lies about it. After spending months living in Ash Grove, only to have a conversation with Brooke that reveals little, Mary returns home and is instantly distrustful of Neil. Amanda is diagnosed with a brain tumor and, though she resists at first, has a surgical procedure to save her life. She survives but is both unable to speak and suffering from amnesia. Greg stays loyally by her side, and Neil encourages her to be with him. Amanda regains her ability to speak and recalls her feelings for Neil, but since he is now with Phyllis, he pushes her toward Greg. A confrontation between Mary and Neil turns the corner into sexual tension, an encounter that pregnant Phyllis witnesses — causing her to slip down the stairs.
Disappearing Act: Susan Hunter Martin Peters was a major, popular character in the late 60s and early 70s, and she’s really the only thing anchoring that entire Greg/Amanda/Neil thing to the rest of the show for a while, but she feels like a total afterthought. I believe some of this had to do with a weak recast (General Hospital poached Susan Alexander), but Susan basically just fades out of existence without any interaction with her old rival, Julie. It’s really strange. I assume this entire new group of characters had to do with the show’s expansion to an hour and the need to have more people floating around, but it all feels very divorced from the Hortons and the core of the show that began only a decade earlier. Couldn’t the Neil Curtis character, with some tweaks, have been Tommy Horton? Or couldn’t Tommy’s daughter, Sandy, have played a role similar to the Amanda one?
Well, That’s Awkward: Both Julie and Phyllis have pregnancy-related mishaps when they tumble down flights of stairs. In the same book. That’s a bit lazy, no?
Body Count: We won’t count Julie’s miscarriage, but David’s return from the dead takes the toll back down to 10.
The Story: After Phyllis’s fall, she gives birth to a premature baby, whom she and Neil name Nathan. Unfortunately, Nathan dies soon afterward. Amanda witnesses Neil and Phyllis grieving together and decides to accept Greg’s marriage proposal. Neil and Phyllis work on their marriage, and Phyllis refuses to heed Mary’s warnings about Neil’s true nature. Mary decides that the best way to prove her point is to seduce Neil herself, so she does — and, to her surprise, she falls for him. They begin a torrid affair that ends only when Phyllis catches them together. She divorces Neil and leaves for Europe. Ashamed, Mary retreats into her work and eventually meets Chris Kositchek, a new engineer/solar inventor/architect working for her father. Greg receives a job offer from a hospital in Chicago, and Amanda reluctantly moves with him. Mary and Chris move in together, but some time later, the differences in their personalities cause them to split. Amanda leaves Greg and returns to her home in Salem, and when she meets Chris (who has come to consult on some home renovations), there is an instant spark between them.
Kim Douglas identifies her former husband, Brent Douglas, as Doug Williams. She promptly installs herself in his house, and Doug — desperate not to let anyone, especially Julie, find out about this ex-wife he has never mentioned — allows her to stay for a time. Kim ingratiates herself with young Hope and does her best to make Julie think there’s something going on between her and Doug. Julie and Doug become engaged, but Kim drops a bomb on Doug: their divorce was never finalized. Wanting to clean up the mess immediately, Doug sends her to Don Craig; Kim tells him to route the paperwork through Doug, which makes Don suspicious of the connection between Brent Douglas and Doug Williams. Don gets Doug to admit the truth to him and encourages him to be honest with Julie. Robert (now married to Rebecca and raising her son, Dougie, with her) confronts Kim, certain that she must be manipulating Doug. Don reveals that Kim’s mother has died, and Kim can only get her inheritance if she is married to Doug at the time the will is probated. Doug reluctantly agrees, not wanting to be responsible for Kim losing the inheritance, and finally comes clean with Julie, who is heartbroken. Julie begins spending more time with Don. At his wit’s end, Doug tells Kim that he cannot wait any longer to obtain a divorce.
Maggie decides to have the surgery that will restore use of her legs, so she and Mickey come to Salem. The Hortons are excited to see Mickey but wrongly assume that he has chosen to undergo surgery that could reverse his amnesia. Mickey’s former mistress, Linda Phillips, is now working at the hospital and cozies up to a recovering Maggie as part of her scheme to reunite with Mickey. Linda’s husband, Jim, figures out what she is up to — but he is killed in a car accident before he can tell anyone. Maggie began to distrust Linda, who lies to Mickey that Melissa is his daughter. Unable to reveal how far back Mickey’s sterility goes (because doing so would expose the truth of Michael’s paternity), Tom is unable to contradict Linda. Mickey, thinking the drugs he took following his heart attack rendered him sterile, tells Maggie that they cannot conceive a child of their own. Mickey informs Linda that, though he will be a father to Melissa, he is staying with Maggie, and he brings Maggie to meet Janice, a young girl up for adoption.
Julie and Doug in a brief happy moment between
obnoxious misunderstandings and crying fits.
Body Count: Nathan Curtis and Jim Phillips bring the total to 12. Jim is another victim of the old Inconvenient Spouse Has an Accident routine, so maybe Bob was wise to accept Julie’s divorce and hide out on the backburner when he did!
Time is But an Illusion: The entire Greg/Amanda/Neil/Phyllis/Mary/Chris thing is so separated from the rest of the storylines that they might as well be in outer space, but it was really noticeable to me how months seemed to be passing for them even though the timeframe felt much shorter for everyone else. I checked recaps, and the Amanda/Chris thing happened all the way in 1979, while the rest of this action seems to have happened in 1976 or so. I’m not sure why they raced to get to all that, especially in lieu of giving Susan any kind of exit or even following up on Neil (we never get any closure between him and Amanda after she marries Greg).
#12: PAST LOVES AND LIES
The Story: Mickey and Maggie are frustrated by a hold-up in their adoption of Janice, but they are happy to have Michael staying at the farm with them. Michael wants Mickey to have the surgery to restore his memory, but Mickey is reluctant. Nevertheless, the men bond, and Michael is thrilled that Mickey accepts him as his son. Back in Salem, Linda remains focused on using Melissa to win Mickey back, and Laura is now expecting another baby with Bill.
Don discovers that Kim’s inheritance from her mother is virtually nothing. Unable to tell Doug this, he instead sets up a scenario in which Julie will overhear him discussing it with Kim. Julie tries to tell Doug, who is dubious, and the two fight and make up and then fight again. Doug plans a trip to Chicago for answers about what went awry with the initial divorce, and Kim follows him and books a ticket on the same flight. Kim allows Julie to think that she and Doug booked the trip together. When Doug boards the plane, he is shocked to see Kim also onboard. Julie vows to get over Doug once and for all.
An explosion at a chemical plant near the docks sends Salem into devastation. David Banning, who works nearby, is seriously injured. As the hospital is overrun with emergency cases in the wake of the explosion, David pulls through, and Don is there to offer Julie his support. At the same time, Michael is seriously injured in an accident on the farm and rushed to another hospital. He requires surgery and blood. Maggie phones Laura to tell her what is going on, and Laura, anticipating the worst, obtains blood that will match Michael’s and races to Brookville. However, the doctor informs Mickey and Maggie of his strange finding: that neither Mickey’s blood nor Laura’s matches Michael’s. An enraged Mickey remembers everything as he sets out for Salem, where he confirms that Bill’s blood type does match Michael’s. A very pregnant Laura arrives in Brookville with the blood, and Maggie informs her of how Mickey stormed out. While Michael undergoes surgery, Laura tries to call Bill to warn him, but he is in the operating room and does not receive her message. A crazed Mickey confronts Linda, telling her that he knows she lied about Melissa, and then sets out to continue his mission — which involves purchasing a gun…
Some Things Never Change: Was this Julie/Doug/Kim triangle popular? Because it feels ripped from the pages of the absolute worst of the “Dannifer” dreck. Julie and Doug have a misunderstanding due to Kim’s manipulations, they discuss it and declare their love, then one of them says something stupid to reinforce said misunderstanding, ad nauseum. Julie is borderline-unbearable by this point. All she does is wring her hands and cry over Doug, but then the minute he says something mildly unpleasant, she goes running off like a nut and declares her entire life over.
So Exotic: It’s such a mark of the times, but it’s also distracting and ridiculous how many times Kim is referred to as “the Polynesian woman” or “the Polynesian beauty,” or there’s a description of her “almond-shaped eyes.” We get it! She’s Polynesian! They never describe Julie as “the white woman” or “the Caucasian beauty,” so it’s incredibly glaring.
Hello, It’s Me: In this book, we’re briefly introduced to the Grants, who were Salem’s first black family. When they come to see him in the hospital, David explains that they found him after his accident and took him in — though it’s bizarre that he and Julie have apparently never discussed what he was doing when he was presumed dead! There’s also the vaguest hint of the relationship between David and Valerie Grant (which was scuttled because of viewer outrage over an interracial romance), but they don’t do anything of particular substance here. Gotta save page space for more Kim-related misunderstandings between Julie and Doug!
David Banning and Valerie Grant (Tina Andrews)
#13: CRIMES OF THE HEART
The Story: I don’t have a damned clue, because this is the one I couldn’t get for a semi-reasonable price! Actually, based on the events of #12 and #14, I can infer that the major storyline in this book is the Mickey/Laura/Bill story. Mickey apparently confronts Bill, shoots him (wounding him in the arm), and is subjected to a sanity hearing that lands him in a sanitarium. Laura also gives birth to her and Bill’s daughter, Jennifer Rose, during a snowstorm. Not much time at all passes between #12 and #14, so I’m just going to imagine that maybe there’s something about Susan or Tommy or the Andersons or, basically, anything besides Julie/Doug/Kim, which is probably what 50% of this book actually is — and that thought is almost enough to make me glad I couldn’t get my hands on it!
The Story: Following his rampage and a sanity hearing, Mickey Horton is in Bayview Sanitarium. He is consumed with thoughts of exacting revenge upon Bill and Laura. Linda, now working for another lawyer, wants to help Mickey get out of the sanitarium, but when she visits him with some insights into his case, he attacks her and calls her “Laura.” Maggie takes an apartment in Salem to be near Mickey. Everyone has been keeping the sad truth from Michael, who is still hospitalized, but he gets his hands on a newspaper and learns that Mickey was committed. When Trish visits Michael in the hospital, she meets his family, and Michael is uncertain where to live upon his release. Bill goes to see Mickey, who makes strange comments about Jennifer Rose, the baby to whom Laura has just given birth. Mickey tells his doctor that he wants Laura to be his psychiatrist. Upon learning the news, Laura is torn, while Bill is staunchly opposed to the idea. Together, Bill and Laura tell Mickey the truth about the rape and Kitty’s attempted blackmail of Bill. Laura agrees to help Mickey, who secretly continues to harbor fantasies of revenge upon her and his brother.
Doug has been trapped in Chicago for several days due to the weather, but he has managed to learn that Kim lied and the divorce was finalized years before. Because of the snow, he and Julie have been unable to reach one another by phone. When Doug returns to Salem, he sees Julie with Don and attempts to explain himself, but she does not want to hear about his trip with Kim. Julie accepts Don’s marriage proposal. Doug invites Kim back to Salem, hoping to make Julie jealous, and when her plane nearly crashes, Kim and Doug share a genuine bonding moment. Kim realizes that Doug is using her but agrees to play along. Tortured, Julie picks up the phone and calls a man, saying that they should elope right away. The man agrees — but which man has she called?
Mickey and Maggie Horton (Suzanne Rogers)
during a time when he wasn’t a raving lunatic.
Body Count: It’s been a while since anyone “onscreen” died, and that trend continues. We leave off with a total of 12 deaths in the series, which isn’t too bad considering that they span over a decade of story — but boy, were they coming fast and furious for a while. (It’s worth noting that the timeline seems to slow down considerably in the last half of the series or so. Up until about #7, we’re covering years at a time, and then #8-14 — aside from the weird jump-forward with Amanda and Chris — are only about three years or so of story.)
Triangle From Hell: The best thing about reaching the end of this book was realizing that I didn’t have to read about Julie, Doug, and Kim anymore. Julie and Doug both came off like absolute morons in these books’ version of the story, and Don isn’t any better, getting engaged to Julie again after she dumped his ass before at the mere glimmer of being able to be with Doug!
Working Woman: In this book, Linda is working for another attorney, Alan Quinn. This woman gets new jobs almost as often as Doug and Julie get into stupid fights!
He’s Come Undone: I was surprised by how far they went with Mickey’s mental instability. He isn’t just delusional — he’s homicidal and scary. It’s tough to read about this guy and picture the kindly Mickey I remember from the 1990s and 2000s. I’d be curious to know if his journey back to sanity onscreen felt organic or if it got glazed over. This also makes me realize that I’ve never really seen Mickey and Bill onscreen together…
Hello, It’s Me… Almost: This storyline with Mickey in the sanitarium is also commonly known as the introduction of another blonde psychiatrist. I kept waiting for it to happen, but the name Dr. Marlena Evans was never uttered. Seems like a weird choice, considering that these were written during 80s Supercouple Mania, and Marlena was such a popular, well known character.
Unless there’s a #15 (or more) that I’ve failed to turn up, this brings us to about 1976-77 in Salem — not long before there would be sweeping changes to the cast and to the tone of the show. I was really hoping to get to read about the devolution of Laura and Bill’s marriage, Maggie’s alcoholism, Linda’s dalliances with Tommy and Mike (she also dated Bill, which was left out of the books!), and Don Craig moving into his own stories away from Julie. If I ever find #13 for a not-insane price, I’ll update this post with a recap. In the meantime, it’s back to present-day Salem…