Danielle Steel – one of the world’s most popular authors with almost a billion books sold since 1972 – spreads a little stardust in her beautiful and bewitching new novel… a modern fairy tale which features a time-honoured battle between good and evil, and a cast of characters to cheer and boo.
Fairytale is an enchanting retelling of the much-loved classic Cinderella and encompasses all those favourite ingredients that have seduced readers and theatregoers for decades… a girl beset by tragedy, an evil stepmother, scheming step siblings, an unexpected fairy godmother and a handsome prince.
Throw in some serious issues, a cast rooted more firmly in the real world than the realms of make-believe, the alluring backdrop of the lush vineyards of Napa Valley in California, and the stage is set for a captivating 21st century fairy tale.
Camille Lammenais has grown up in the beautiful Napa Valley, surrounded by acres of her family’s vineyards. Her parents, Christophe and Joy, still deeply in love after two decades of marriage, have built a renowned winery and a new home, Château Joy, modelled on Christophe’s ancient family estate in his native Bordeaux.
Happy and contented, Camille has had a perfect childhood, safe in her parents’ love, and after graduating from Stanford, she returns to help manage Château Joy and make her long-held dream come true.
But Camille’s fairy tale existence ends suddenly and cruelly with the death of her beloved mother from cancer. Six months after losing his wife, the devastated Christophe is easy prey for Maxine, Countess of Pantin, a mysterious French widow who is visiting the valley.
The countess is the essence of Parisian seduction and sophistication and within weeks Christophe and Maxine are a clandestine couple, making love like teenagers and glowing with their secret. Camille, still grieving for her mother, is shocked by the news that her father intends to remarry.
Camille can see past the alluring looks, designer clothes and elegant manners of the countess, while her innocent father is trapped in her web. When tragedy strikes again, Camille is at her stepmother’s mercy, and that of her two evil stepbrothers, Alexandre and Gabriel, who suddenly appear.
It’s time for Camille to fight – first for her inheritance, and then for her life – but as she grapples with the plots against her, she finds an unexpected ally in the countess’s elderly, kind and clever mother Simone. All she needs now is a prince worthy of any fairy tale…
Steel works her trademark storytelling magic in this fast-paced, emotion-packed odyssey which carries powerful messages of family love and hope in a world that can too often seem cold, self-absorbed and cynical.
One of the highlights of the Cinderella-style tale is the relationship that slowly unfolds between Camille and her substitute fairy godmother Simone… a warm friendship that forms the melting point in a step-family that is both cold and callous.
Clever, compelling and utterly charming, Fairytale can’t help but cast a spell.
(Pan, paperback, £7.99)