This is my second blog post of this series where I taste test a famous author’s books. A couple months ago I read a few of Nora Roberts‘s and let’s just say I was a little disappointed. I was going to go ahead and take on Karin Slaughter this month to mix up the genres, but I ended up disliking the one book I read by her so much, I gave up. Maybe I’ll try to read her again eventually.
Instead, this month I read four books by Danielle Steel. She’s that kind of author I see absolutely everywhere, but I’ve heard her books are also all kind of the same. She’s one of those recognizable romance authors whose books show up in Targets and Walmarts and releases at least three or four books a year.
She’s also been writing since 1973, and averages six to seven new books a year (which is kind of impressive, but brings up the question of quality vs. quantity).
In picking out the four books I read for this taste test, I did a similar thing to my Nora Roberts’s post. I picked out one of her earliest books, one of her most recent, her most popular, and just a random one I thought was interesting.
The first one I started by her was Remembrance, which follows an Italian girl returning to Rome after WWII to find all her family dead. She falls in love with an American soldier and drama ensues. As you will see later on, my rating of Steel’s books are all over the place and unfortunately I started out with the worst. It was published in 1981, and was one of the earliest books my library carried by Steel.
I described this book in my Goodreads’s review as a Spanish soup opera with as many dramatic tropes thrown in, even if 90% of them didn’t fit. Even if I started this book first, I ended up finishing it second to last because I really couldn’t stand it.
It gets a one star from me.
At about halfway through Remembrance, I put it down to pick up Steel’s most well-read work, Safe Harbour, published in 2003. I’m so glad I did, because I think I might have given up on Steel after one book if I had forced myself to finish Remembrance first. I loved Safe Harbour. It follows a young widow and her daughter who go on a vacation after her husband and son die in a plane crash. On the beach they meet a troubled artist, whose wife left him and took his children years ago. Together, they mend their broken happiness.
I adored this book. It’s sweet, with a slow, realistic romance and happy ending. It’s definitely not the deepest book, but it does take on darker topics in lighter ways.
I ended up giving this four out of five stars, and I can see why this book is Steel’s most well read.
The next book I read by Steel was Echoes, a historical drama which follows two generations of women during the two great wars. It was published in 2004. This book had a lot of interesting aspects in it and for the most part I enjoyed it.
The plot feels meandering at times and a lot of places the story doesn’t fit together and contains a lot of plot holes, but I did find it interesting. It’s starts with a young Jewish woman, Beata, on vacation in Switzerland, who falls in love with a French man and they leave their families to marry. Years later with two daughters, Nazi Germany rises and Beata and her daughters find themselves caught in the anti-Jewish sentiment hiding their identity.
I ended up giving it three stars. It was good, but I wanted more focus on an overall plot or overarching themes.
At this point I went back and finished Remembrance, spurred on because of my mostly enjoyment of the two previous books and then I read the most recent release of these four, Spy, published in 2019.
I mostly read this book because of the gorgeous cover. It follows a young English woman who works as a spy for over thirty years, during WWII and after. I liked the plot, but since the story covers like sixty years and is only 288 pages, the entire story feels summed up and is about 80% telling not showing (and I’m also person who complains about too much flowery language usually, so this is saying a lot).
I wanted to get into the characters and the spy missions, but everything is brushed over with shallow summaries. It was like Steel had a great idea for a story and just regurgitated it as a summarized outline. I would understand if this was a first draft, but not a final, published work.
I ended up giving this two out of five stars.
As you can tell, my ratings were all over the place with Danielle Steel’s books. One one star, one two stars, one three stars, one four stars. Usually this is when I say whether I would read more of her books, but my honest answer is, I don’t know.
These four books all had very similar themes and drama tropes, especially when it came to romance, death, and marriage. However, tropes are simply tropes and, as my ratings of these books show, you can do those tropes well or very badly. Honestly, I can’t see myself picking up Steel’s works with excitement, but if I was desperate for something light and fluffy, I can see myself randomly picking up more of hers at the library.
I’m curious to hear your thoughts on her writing? Is she an author you’ve read before and, if so, do you enjoy her writing? If you haven’t read her, is she an author you can see yourself reading? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments, follow my blog for more musings and, as always,
Best wishes in your life full of adventure,