Danielle Steel is back with two enthralling family-based sagas - book reviews

Blessing in Disguise by Danielle Steel
Blessing in Disguise by Danielle Steel

Danielle Steel, the American author whose compelling novels have made her one of the world’s best-loved storytellers, is back with two enthralling family-based sagas.

Blessing in Disguise

Danielle Steel

A mother’s love for her three daughters, and the secrets that have been buried for decades, lie at the heart of Blessing in Disguise, a beautifully observed and drama-filled story.

Using her trademark human wisdom Steel explores family ties and the trials and tribulations of one woman’s battle to raise three children to three different fathers.

Through love, loss, cruel fate and betrayal, Isabelle McAvoy is forced to raise her girls alone while struggling to forge a career as an art consultant in New York.

As an intern at an art gallery in Paris, 20-year-old student Isabelle meets fellow American Putnam Armstrong, a wealthy, middle-aged art collector who lives secluded from the world at his chateau on the Normandy coast.

Isabelle’s relationship with gentle Putnam, and her time at his beautiful home are the stuff of dreams for the naïve young woman but it turns real when she becomes pregnant because she knows that marriage is out of the question.

Back at home in New York, Isabelle settles into her new life as the single mother of baby daughter Theo with the financial support of Putnam who cares for his child from afar.

Isabelle’s life changes yet again when she is swept off her feet by the new man on the scene, Collin Stone, and she hopes their relationship will prove to be more stable and traditional.

But she soon realises that she has made a terrible mistake and again finds herself a single mother to daughter Xela and has no plans to ever fall in love again.

With two young daughters and no husband, Isabelle battles on alone until, finally and unexpectedly, she finds happiness with Declan Donaghue, and a love that gives her a third child, Oona, a baby as happy as her beloved father. But once again, life brings dramatic changes.

The three girls grow up to be very different women, and Isabelle’s relationship with each of them is unique. While raising her girls alone, Isabelle also begins building a career as a successful art consultant.

Then one final turn of fate brings a past secret to light, bonds mother and daughters closer together, and turns a challenge into a blessing.

Steel’s family saga is packed with the emotional power and psychological insight that we have come to expect from such an astute storyteller.

The men in Isabelle’s life come and go but it is the relationships with her daughters which come under the author’s sharp eye… the bonds they share are tested and challenged but ultimately prove too deep and powerful to be broken.

Full of truth, wisdom and a mother’s love, this is a story that will resonate with readers of every generation.

(Macmillan, hardback, £18.99)

The Good Fight

Danielle Steel

In The Good Fight, Steel takes her readers through some of the most tumultuous events in 20th century American history.

Against the electrifying backdrop of the 1960s, Steel unveils the gripping tale of a young woman discovering a passion for justice and of the unsung heroes she encounters on her quest to fight the good fight.

The daughter and granddaughter of prominent Manhattan lawyers, Meredith McKenzie is destined for the best of everything… top schools, elite social circles, the perfect marriage.

Spending her childhood in Germany as her father prosecutes Nazi war criminals at the Nuremberg trials, Meredith soaks up the conflict between good and evil as it plays out in real time.

When her family returns to the United States, she begins blazing her own trail, swimming against the tides, spurred on by her free-thinking liberal grandfather, determined to become a lawyer despite her traditional, conservative father’s objections.

Meredith rebels against her parents’ expectations for her debutante ball and other conventions.

She forges a lifelong friendship with a young German Jewish woman whose family died in the concentration camps.

And while her grandfather rises to the Supreme Court, Meredith enlists in the most pressing causes of her time, fighting for civil rights and an end to the Vietnam War.

From the bright morning of JFK’s inauguration, through the tumultuous years that follow as America hurtles toward the twin assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, Meredith joins the vanguard of a new generation of women, breaking boundaries socially, politically, and professionally.

But when the violence of the era strikes too close to home, her once tightly knit family must survive a devastating loss and rethink their own values and traditions in light of the times.

Encompassing the remarkable people Meredith meets, the historic events she witnesses, and the sacrifices she must make, this is the story of a woman changing her world as she herself is changed by it.

Beautifully told, and brimming with unforgettable moments and characters, The Good Fight is an inspiring, uplifting read which follows one determined woman’s pursuit of truth and justice.

(Pan, paperback, £7.99)