Read of the Week

Fairytale

Danielle Steel

Macmillan

Review: Roshiela Moonsamy

I’ve long learned not to turn my nose up at popular culture because once given a chance I always get thoroughly sucked in, whether it is a movie, book or soap opera.

This book was no exception. Predictable as it was, I got lost in the story which is basically Cinderella re-imagined and set in the American Napa Valley in present day.

There is a gold-digging evil stepmother, an ill-treated orphan and a kind and quirky grandmother who is much like the storybook fairy godmother. There is also something of a prince and this thread might be what keeps you reading but the ending left me feeling disappointed.

The characters are all convincing but it is easy to guess who are the good guys and who will turn out to be baddies.

Christophe and Joy Lammenais have grown their winery into a boutique brand and everything seems to be going well as their daughter, Camille, graduates from Stanford. But then their charmed life is shaken when Joy is diagnosed with breast cancer. She is successfully treated but is only able to enjoy her life for five more years when the disease shows up again and this time, Joy succumbs to it. It doesn’t take long for the elegant “countess” Maxine de Pantin to show up in the valley and despite his grief, Christophe gets swept away by her charms. But there are others who can see Maxine for who she really is.

Danielle Steele is a well established author so when this book arrived at our office from the publisher, I took the opportunity to see what her legion of followers enjoy so much. The blurb on the book cover states that she has sold nearly a billion copies of her novels. She has obviously hit on a winning formula. Even the repetitive writing in Fairytale appears to be part of a “best-selling” technique rather than lazy editing.

This book reminded me of the structure of a soap opera and I think people might enjoy it for the same reason that they get hooked to those soapies on the Glow and Mzansi Magic channels. In some way the writers of these stories make accurate observations about human nature that we can all recognise and identify with.

Though they also tend to exaggerate circumstances just for our entertainment.

Perhaps, like Steel, what they offer is escapism from our daily grind, sometimes with a bit of romance.

And in all fairness to Steel, this book
does not pretend to be anything else than
it is: I think her fans know what to expect
and I am sure they will lap up this offering
too.