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The women's bestseller has become the acknowledged literary phenomenon of the last half-century. Madonne M. Miner takes the first critical look at this development and offers a serious reading of five of the most famous twentieth-century women's bestsellers--Gone with the Wind, Forever Amber, Peyton Place, Valley of the Dolls, and Scruples. She outlines repeated plot structures, image patterns, and thematic concerns. From these Miner constructs a twentieth-century white middle-class American woman's story, suggests ways in which female readers respond to women's bestsellers, and proposes a matrilineal linkage between the novels.