Thursday, August 2, 2012

Post Shades of Grey



After surviving the first installment of Fifty Shades of Grey recently (it took me two months to finish the darn over-hyped novel), I decided to return to one of my favorite authors, Danielle Steel, who has never let me down even on her bad days. Over the years (mostly in Boston), I've devoured at least 10 of her romance contemporary novels. I am now reading "Matters of the Heart" but one of her other novels that I read was "Sisters" which I discovered by chance at a bookstore where the cover image caught my eye. Then I saw the author's name and I smiled. I like to believe that Danielle Steel came to my rescue from my post-Shades of Grey reading trauma.

So as I began to read Steel again, I knew I was venturing into a future Lifetime/WE TV/Hallmark movie of the week territory. But I like these kinds of stories that celebrate family, strong bonds, loyalty in the face of adversity.

In "Sisters," Steel introduces us to Candy, Sabrina, Annie and Tammy - four ambitious young women who excel in their own way.
Candy: top super model of the world at 21. Somewhat immature.
Annie: introspective quiet artist in Florence.
Sabrina: the oldest and motherly of the bunch who is a divorce lawyer with an aversion to marriage.
Tammy: TV producer of one of the top shows in the country. Can't seem to find the right guy in LA.

Steel quickly introduces the reader to each of women, dedicating the first four chapters to each of their stories.
By the fifth, they have gathered in Connecticut for their mother's annual Fourth of July party, an event that is unmissable. Each of the sisters flies or drives from their corner of the world (LA, NYC, Florence and Paris) to attend.
But once they arrive, tragedy strikes. (spoiler alert after the jump.)

Their mother dies in a car accident that also robs Annie of her vision.
The sisters unite in mourning and to help their father and Annie adjust to life without their mother.
Sabrina comes up with the idea for all four sisters to share a brownstone in NYC to help Annie get back on her feet. And as they come to Annie's rescue, they also save themselves from chronic issues in their lives. Candy begins to eat more and grows up after a reckless move with a sinister boyfriend-predator. Tammy abandons her top job in LA and heads to NYC to help her family but realizes that she can succeed in TV in NYC, even though she's now producing a reality show.
Annie learns that she can be independent and harnesses her other senses to adjust to her life without eyes. Through a school of the blind, she sees her future and even finds the man of her dreams.
And Sabrina learns to forge ahead with longtime boyfriend Chris, who wants to marry.
By the end of the book, all their issues are resolved and the family heads off into the sunset on a boat for their happy ending which is the hallmark of a Steel book.

I found the writing to be breezy but not too light either. Steel sprinkles some poetic lines that capture the abstract emotions of loss and the challenges of facing new realities.
I did find that Steel repeated some lines (something I am guilty of in my own fiction writing) and information as each sister talked about the other in their individual chapters. I also felt that the book could have been tighter and leaner. But overall, I enjoyed getting to know the "Sisters." I related to them in my own way even though I'm a dude who also survived Shades of Grey.