The Gift from Danielle Steel

a home in a 1950s midwestern town is in center of dust jacket
Country scene isn’t typical for  Danielle Steel novel.

The Gift is a radical departure for famed romance-writer Danielle Steel. There’s some romance in it, but it’s almost a coming-of-age tale set in the 1950s.

When Maribeth Roberson’s father refuses to let her go to the sophomore prom in a sexy dress, she changes clothes and goes with a jerk she scarcely knows.

When the jerk gets drunk, a handsome senior gives her a ride home. He takes advantage of Maribeth’s naiveté.

Sixteen and pregnant, Maribeth leaves home. She gets off the bus in an Iowa town, gets a job waitressing, hoping to earn enough pay for the baby’s delivery. She wants to give the baby up for adoption, then go to college.

Maribeth becomes friends with 16-year-old Tommy Whittaker who eats most nights at the restaurant. Home is too depressing since his younger sister’s death. After 22 years of marriage, his parents seem to have lost all interest in each other and him.

Steel’s organization of her story makes the ending too predictable for the novel to rate an A, but the characters in The Gift come across as real people. There’s not a Hermes handbag to be seen anywhere.

And Steel doesn’t glue a happy ending on her story. She just gives glimmers of hope for the Whittakers and Maribeth.

That ending feels exactly right.

The Gift by Danielle Steel
Delacourt Press. ©1994. 216 p.
1994 bestseller #04; my grade: B+

©2020 Linda G. Aragoni

June Cable a mystery with Dickensian overtones

In Jane Cable, George Barr McCutcheon gives readers a break-neck paced mystery with characters that make zombies look benign.

The mystery is the Jane Cable’s parentage.


June Cable by George Barr McCutcheon

1906 bestseller # 5. Project Gutenberg EBook #5971. My grade: B+.


David Cable’s wife led him to believe Jane was his own daughter. Jane was actually a founding Frances had adopted.

Frances has never told either David or Jane that Jane is adopted.

Jane, now 20, is devoted to the couple she calls her parents.

The lawyer who handled the adoption, James Bamsemer, learned Jane’s parents’ identity and blackmailed Jane’s father’s family.

When Bamsemer turns up in Chicago, Frances knows she has to tell her secret.

Bamsemer terrifies her, but she’s even more frightened of his law clerk, Elias Droom.

James Bamsemer develops a crush on Frances; his son Graydon and Jane fall in love.

The story gets more complicated and more exciting with every chapter.

McCutcheon gives his charming characters flaws and softens the dastardly ones with an occasional generous impulse.

Droom is worthy of Charles Dickens: Ugly and devious in aiding Bamsemer, Droom grows geraniums and loves Graydon like a son.

Droom also invents things, such as a do-it-yourself guillotine.

You’ll stay up past your bedtime to see how McCutcheon fits that into the plot.

©2016 Linda Gorton Aragoni