In The Long Road Home, Danielle Steel tackles one of the least savory aspects of romantic relationships: child abuse.
Gabriella is a beautiful, blonde seven-year-old whose mother flies into rages and beats her, being careful the bruises don’t show.
Gabby’s father is too spineless to object.
When the Harrisons divorce, Eloise Harrison sends Gabriella to live in a convent, while she moves to California and a new husband. John Harrison moves to Boston. Gabbie never hears from either of her parents again. When Gabbie turns 18, her mother’s care of her—a monthly check to the sisters—ends.
Gabbie is safe and happy, a Columbia University graduate, planning to become a nun when she meets Father Joe Connors in the confessional.
They hit it off too well.
When Joe has to choose between his vocation and Gabbie, who is pregnant, his own unresolved childhood trauma leads a third, most unhappy choice.
Gabbie once again has to start rebuilding a life for herself.
The combination of early childhood abuse and her convent-sheltered teen years make her vulnerable. Gabbie gets into another abusive situation.
Steel provides an upbeat ending that’s more hopeful than likely, but her story is as realistic as Steel’s romance fans can tolerate.