By Danielle Steel. Grade: B
Danielle Steel books are popular among many women for they tell a refreshing story that is mostly about a regular, next-door woman going through a rough patch in her life and how she beats all the odds, picks herself up, dusts herself and moves on. It is a very endearing feeling when you see a book’s lead character fight all odds because you want to be like them. But when an author uses the same plot with slightly different set up and different characters, it gets a little too predictable and that is precisely why I gave up on Danielle Steel books. After a longtime, I picked up this book expecting a change. But I was again disenchanted by this book.
Two couples, four decades apart. One believes that if lovers die, they find each other again in another life. Or perhaps they wind up as stars side by side in the sky, together forever. Who knows how it really ends? Danielle Steel breaks new ground in her career as a perennial New York Times bestseller with the poignant story of two parallel destinies, and the kind of love we all hope will be everlasting.
The story revolves around the concept of rebirth and tells the story of two couples, four decades apart. The first half of the book talks about Bill and Jenny, a happy, well-to-do New York couple which decides to have kids. But after a miscarriage, Jenny is asked to slow down from her fast paced fashion career and hence, when her husband gets a chance to move to a small town in Wyoming, they decide to take it knowing that would be best for them. Fast forward 40 years, Lillibet Petersen is a young Amish girl trapped in her dull and tiring Amish life. But she is different from others, for she loves to read and has also written a book. Afraid of her formidable, orthodox father, she secretly sends her manuscript to a New York based publisher, Robert Bellagio, who instantly falls in love with her book. The second half of the book tells the story of how Lillibet braves everything to publish her book.
The author has her trademark narrative style which is an easy and pleasant read. However, compared to the second story, the first one seems much better and more relatable to the period when it occurs.
One thing to be noted here is that using magical realism as a plot device is a double-edged sword that writers need to wield carefully. Even a usually open-minded reader would scoff at the idea of re-birth, and it is the author’s responsibility to, if not convince the reader of this possibility, then at least make them receptive to such an idea. If this does not happen, such twists usually end up being nothing more than a clichéd, hackneyed attempt by a desperate writer to give some weight to an otherwise dull plot. This is where the book failed.
Sometimes, there is a third option available. When the characters are just so vibrant, and the writing just so amazing, the reader is willing to suspend intelligence and accept the said hackneyed idea, and continues reading. However, here her main characters are picture perfect with impeccable qualities. They lack depth and are shown as flawless figurines rather than a normal human beings. Paper-sketches that failed to induce any emotional connection with the reader, leading to a flat, rather monotonous reading experience.
The whole area of rebirth and eternal love came out on similar lines with Om Shanti Om (which has a miserably cheesy story line); filled with dialogues like:
‘She laughed, and it was a sound like bells in the wind’
Compared to many of the better books from this author, this book was a letdown. Perhaps Danielle Steel fans and some romantics might find this worth their time. For others, I’d advise to be cautious. This has very little substance to offer.
- Review: Until the End of Time - March 2, 2014
- Review: The Eye Of God - January 26, 2014