Lightning by Danielle Steel

 A red bolt of lightning divides cover into black and white areas.
Cancer strikes like lightning.

Lightning’s Alexandra and Sam Parker are a happily married couple in the typical Danielle Steel mold: Alex is a successful lawyer, Sam a venture capitalist. They are good looking, intelligent, hardworking, wealthy, with a delightful, brilliant child and a devoted housekeeper.

Then, like a bolt of lightning, a routine mammogram discovers a possibly malignant mass. Alex opts for breast removal when a biopsy confirms she has cancer.

Sam, whose mother died from cancer, tries to avoid acknowledging Alex’s illness. He doesn’t want to even hear about Alex’s fears or her pain. Alex’s cancer is her problem. Sam just wants her to behave as if nothing is wrong.

Meanwhile, Sam’s company takes in a new partner. Initially skeptical of Simon, Alex is quickly converted to his cheerleader when Simon introduces him to his sexy cousin.

While Sam enjoys a hot affair, Alex vomits into the toilet in her office, ministered to by a junior staffer who had done similar service when his older sister who is Alex’s age, had cancer.

Although Steel avoids her usual plot formula, she doesn’t manage to make the story believable or her major characters realistic.

Lightning turns out to be just a flash in the pan.

Lightning by Danielle Steel
Delacourt. ©1995. 396 p.
1995 bestseller #5; my grade: C

©2020 Linda G. Aragoni

Five Days in Paris

Nighttime photo of the Eiffel Tower
Icon and plot are predictable.

In Five Days in Paris, Danielle Steel puts a different spin on her usual romance formula.

The story is about Peter Haskell, marketing man for a major pharmaceutical company who is pushing development of what he hopes will be a break-through drug for cancer treatment.

Steel makes Peter rich, charming, virtuous, and emotionally obtuse. She also has him married to the devoted, only-child of company’s CEO. Peter spent his life trying to escape his farm-boy upbringing; he has maintained no family ties.

In Paris on a trip to meet with a scientist evaluating the new drug, Peter meets Olivia Thatcher, wife of a US senator whose presidential ambition has become all-consuming. Since their baby died, Olivia and Andy have scarcely spoken.

Olivia and Peter spend an entire night talking when the Ritz at which both are staying is evacuated because of a bomb threat. By morning they have become each other’s best friend.

The following day, Olivia “pulls an Agatha Christie,” and disappears. Peter finds her and for the next three days they lovers. Then they each go back to their own lives.

Steel contrives a happy ending, but Five Days feels as if the real story is Peter’s other, earlier days.

Five Days in Paris by Danielle Steel
Delacourt. ©1995. 269 p.
1995 bestseller #03; my grade: C+

©2020 Linda G. Aragoni

The Talisman: Novel by committee

Front cover of The Talisman
A web? or something shattered?

The Talisman is a tour de force by a pair of authors known respectively for horror and fantasy novels: Stephen King and Peter Straub.

The novel’s hero is 12-year-old Jack Sawyer. Jack’s father is dead; his mother, Lily, dying of cancer.

The pair are holed up in a New Hampshire hotel in the off-season to get away from his uncle, Morgan Sloat, who is trying to get Lily to sign over property she inherited on her husband’s death.

Jack meets an old, black handyman, who encourages Jack to journey into a parallel universe called “The Territories” to bring back the Talisman to cure his mother’s cancer.

Jack develops the ability to flip between universes. In the Territories, Jack pushes west, running into all kinds of nasty creatures—some bestial, some humanoid—on his odyssey to find the Talisman.

The Talisman oozes blood and gore, but the most frightening elements are those that are most closely modeled after 20th century America: An employer who takes advantage of his employees and a sadistic preacher who runs a home for boys with behavior problems.

The Talisman is proof that novel writing by committees, even a two-person committee, leaves a great deal to be desired

The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub
Viking, G. P. Putnam’s Sons. ©1984. 646 p.
1984 bestseller #1. My grade: C+

©2019 Linda G. Aragoni