Let me start by saying that I think the last time I read a Danielle Steel book I was pregnant with my son and he is now 32 years old. I couldn’t tell you which book, but as I recall, it was an entertaining read but not much more than that.
My library patrons read her all the time and she has gone the way of many popular writers, spinning out several books a year. This one came up on a site I use to get digital review copies so I thought I’d give it a try.
I hated this book so much I’m not sure why I finished it, other than I fell back on an old bad habit of reading to the end in hopes it would get better. It didn’t.
I’ll start with the beginning. I’ve gone to a lot of writing conferences over the years, as a reader and a fan, and I’ve often heard writers talk about showing, not telling in their work. This book is a prime example of why that is. The first chunk, maybe 25-30% of the book, was a litany of people and places and their history. The people are Christophe and Joy, who meet, fall in love, build a winery, have a daughter they name Camille, and have a pretty perfect life. This covers 20 years.
Camille has just graduated Stanford and is happy to be home, working in the vineyard with her mother. Joy runs the business side of things, Christophe, along with his vineyard manager Cesare, run the winery side of things. More perfection. Only problem with perfection is that it’s boring. Camille and her parents get along beautifully, although Camille has no social life, because after all, working in the business and spending time with her parents is all any 20something wants out of life.
Eventually, some drama creeps in and Joy dies, and shortly after that the extremely happily married but now devastated Christophe meets a predator, the Countess Maxine, a highly skilled gold-digger whom he marries, waiting just past the one year anniversary of his beloved wife’s death, out of respect of course. Camille realizes that Maxine is not the kind woman her mother was, but her father is blinded by naivete and – wait for it – lust.
More tragedy occurs, and the evil stepmother, along with her two evil sons, are now making Camille’s life miserable. Luckily, friend of the family Sam and his son Phillipe step in to help. Camille and Phillipe grew up together, but he is seven years older than her so they’ve always had this brother-sister relationship.
Then as if the perfect life wasn’t enough of a fairy tale, Steel borrows heavily and heavy-handedly from the Cinderella story. The evil stepmother goes to the ball, and Camille’s “fairy grandmother” makes sure she goes, too, stealing her a dress and even lending her sparkly shoes to wear. The ultimately happy ending comes out of nowhere and didn’t make any sense to me for reasons that would give away the weak story altogether.
If you, dear reader, decide to read this book, I would love to hear from you. I can’t wait to talk to my library patrons about it, I am dying to know if anyone likes it. The early reviews on Amazon are wonderful, for the most part, which just confused me.
I was thoroughly disgusted by the end, more with myself for sticking with it and wasting two and a half hours of my life that I’ll never get back, but also with the ridiculous ending. Did I mention that I hated this book?
10/17 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™
FAIRYTALE by Danielle Steel. Delacorte Press (October 10, 2017). ISBN 978-1101884065. 288p.