Wednesday, June 6, 2007

I used to love Danielle Steel

Yes, I did.

Say what you will about her, but her older stuff was quite good and impeccably researched.

When I was in high school, my stories in creative writing class were always long, romantic and melodramatic, and our beloved teacher, Mrs. Sapnar, always would say, "I think Diana is going to be the next Danielle!" Oh, nothing made me happier than to hear that. Nothing.
I started reading her novels around the 6th grade, and actually picked up quite a few history lessons along the way.

When we studied the Vietnam War in school, I remembered already learning some things from Danielle's novel Message From 'Nam (the story of a young girl who goes to Vietnam to be a reporter and learn the truth about what is going on over there after her beloved fiancee dies in the war) and when I wrote a paper on the Japanese Internment Camps during World War II, I consulted Danielle's Silent Honor (the story of a young Japanese girl who moves to the United States to live with her American cousins and go to college and then they all end up in an internment camp.)

Her historical novels are quite well-researched and compelling. Not gonna lie, I always truly enjoyed them. (I also wrote her a fan letter when I was 14. She wrote back! And said it meant a lot for her to hear from an aspiring young writer! I actually found that letter the other day and smiled really big when I reread it and remembered how excited I was to get it.)

Most of Danielle's books follow a basic structure...there's a beautiful young girl. Her first love
dies young (there's usually a war going on), the second has something shady about him (he either dies or is corrupt and the young girl notices this and leaves) and the third also has his own demons, and they kiss and go walking off into the sunset together.

She has written some nice stuff.

However, Danielle's recent novels? Kinda laughable. Back when I worked at Barnes and Noble,

I'd often take "stripped books" home. (They rip the covers off and trash the books. HORRIFYING, I know.)

I used to bring home absolutely EVERY strip and never got around to reading a lot of them.

However, I had a flat tire last year and needed to remove 5 years of strips from my trunk to get at my spare.

Finally, I had to read these books. Over one week, I read three newer Danielle novels that I brought home as strips... Answered Prayers, Lone Eagle, and The Kiss.

Oh, where have you gone, Danielle Steel?

Answered Prayers is about a woman in a loveless marriage AND her old childhood pal, the best friend of her dead brother, who is ALSO in a loveless marriage. The woman decides she, at the age of 47, wants to go to law school. Her scummy husband divorces her because of it. Her childhood pal gives her rosaries. They pray a lot. His son almost dies in Africa. They pray a lot. They kiss at the end and go, "Let's go home!"

Long Eagle is about a young girl during World War II who falls in love with an ambitious pilot. It just never works out. She gets married, and ends up in a loveless marriage. (Seriously, why wouldn't she?) He comes back into her life. They eventually end up married...but...sadly, he loves his airplanes more than he loves her. Also, she miscarries three children along the way. Must we make the children die?

The Kiss is about a woman in a loveless marriage, and her male friend, who is also in a loveless marriage. (Shocker!) The woman has a child who is desperately ill and a scummy husband. She begins to fall for her platonic male friend, who is also in a loveless marriage. They are in the back of a limo, and share a passionate kiss. The driver is so taken with their passion and gazes at them in the rearview mirror and he crashes. He dies, they don't. They both end up in comas and have near-death experiences and slowly recover together. Her husband kicks her out of her house when he learns of her affair. Her son dies. (Seriously, why does son ALWAYS have to die?) And with her son's death, she finds the courage to stand on her own without her scummy husband as a tribute to her dead son. She then professes her love to her platonic male friend. They kiss, and say, "Let's go home."

Danielle, I still love 'ya...I dare you to write something that has nothing to do with loveless marriages or children dying or affairs! Let's have some more well-researched fiction! You really don't NEED to pump out a book every two months. Take a break. Go to a spa. Volunteer at an animal shelter.

Take some time off, Danielle Steel, and I KNOW you will come back, better than ever, with
fiction that can measure up to the very best of Message from 'Nam and No Greater Love!


Diana Rissetto

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