Accident by Danielle Steel

triangular red warning sign is art element on front of "Accident"
Accident is unexpected story from Danielle Steel.

Accident is a Danielle Steel romance in which the author throws monkey wrenches at her typical formula with a most satisfactory clang.

Page Clark is happily married. She and Brad have a son, Andy,  7, and a daughter, Allyson, 15. Page wishes Brad’s work didn’t take him away from home so much, but on the whole, she happy with her life.

Then one Saturday night Allyson and her best friend, Chloe Thorensen, say Chloe’s father is taking them to dinner and a movie.

The girls, however, have made a dinner date with two older boys. On the way home, they have an accident. The boy driving the car is killed, the other boy escapes injury. Both Chloe and Allyson are badly injured. Chloe will recover, but never have the dancing career she wanted; Allyson may never regain consciousness.

Steel’s plot is a tad more gruesome than it need be—a relationship need not be abusive for a child to dislike its mother, for example—but on the whole her characterizations are believable.

And she scores points by not exploiting the “other driver” story at the expense of her core story.

Altogether, Accident is a gushless romance that will make readers feel they know the characters.

Accident by Danielle Steel
Delacourt Press. ©1994. 305 p.
1994 bestseller #08; my grade: A-

©2020 Linda G. Aragoni

Christine: Horror on wheels

Christine's logo plate suggests speeding car
The hood ornament is a human skull

The eponymous character of Stephen King’s 1983 bestseller, Christine, is a 1958 Plymouth who will be responsible for 10 murders before the novel ends.

In 1978 in a town outside Pittsburgh, Arnie Cunningham—a smart kid with pimples and a passion for auto mechanics which his college professor parents reluctantly tolerate—sees a car he is determined to have.

The car, in his best friend’s opinion, is a pile of junk, and the guy selling her, Roland LeBay, is no better.

From the day he makes his down payment, Arnie’s obsession with Christine alienates him from his family and his only real friend, Dennis, the story’s narrator.

Dennis begins to notice odd things. He suspects Arnie is in some kind of trouble, what kind he doesn’t know.

King’s characters are ordinary people who for the most part do predictably ordinary things, which makes the dark forces that seep out of his pages seem especially sinister.

King has a special knack for depicting ’60s and ’70s teens: Their slang, snacks, school life, teachers all are spot on.

If you don’t care for King’s sinister side, you could read the novel as an inquiry into the century-old question: What is it with guys and their cars anyway?

Stephen King sits atop a car like Christine in photo of back dust jacket of Christine.

Christine by Stephen King
Viking Press. ©1983. 526 p.
1983 bestseller #5. My grade: B

©2019 Linda G. Aragoni

Gentle Julia has nostalgic charm

Portrait of Gentle Julia
Gentle Julia

The absurdities of American adolescents are a recurrent theme in Booth Tarkington novels. In Gentle Julia he’s in peak form.

Every bachelor and widower in town is after Miss Julia Atwater. Julia wouldn’t hurt any of them by declining his advances.

For all her 20 years, Julia has no more sense than her 13-year-old niece, Florence. Florence alternates between hating boys, especially her cousin Herbert, and inventing romances. Julia merely alternatives between liking all males and loving herself.

Florence eavesdrops on her Aunt Julia and shares her news with all the other Atwaters in town. When Herbert and a friend set up a weekly newspaper, Florence elbows her way in and finds a literary outlet for what she has overheard.

Gentle Julia has about as much substance as aerosol whipped topping. The characters are all lightweights. The plot trivial.

The world Tarkington reveals is one in which people are comfortably well-off. Children are loved and disciplined but allowed freedom to roam. Neighbors gossip, but never in a mean way. Families rally in support of one another. No one drops litter.

If that world ever existed, it’s long gone.

Nostalgia for it remains.

Gentle Julia
by Booth Tarkington
Illustrated by  C. Allan Gilbert & Worth Brehm
Doubleday, Page, 1922
375 pages
1922 #3 Bestseller
Project Gutenberg Ebook 18259 
My grade: C
Florence in her role as newspaper editor dominates the boys.
“‘Well, men … I don’t want to see any loafin’ around here, men. I expect I’ll have a pretty good newspaper this week.'”
© 2012 Linda Gorton Aragoni