No jigsaw picture of my reading life would be complete without the Danielle Steel piece. I may not read her novels now, but for a good ten years, they were my auto-buys, the novels I inhaled without drawing breath. When I turned sixteen, one of my aunts wanted to buy me a book for my birthday, a new release hard cover, which was a very generous gift back then as they were often upwards of $35 new, but she wanted me to pick it. I was at a point where my reading tastes were changing and I was looking for something new, and I suppose, more adult, than what I had previously been reading. At the time, Danielle Steel had two new hardcovers out, Zoya – an historical – and Star – a contemporary. I was pretty torn between the two and asked my aunt to pick either of those to make the gift a surprise. I was very much surprised in the end when she presented both of them to me on my actual birthday.
I was hooked. I instantly fell in love with the drama, the glamour, the romance and the suspense of Danielle Steel’s stories. I would find myself crying at some point in each novel along with being thrilled at every inevitable happy ever after. Danielle Steel has always been popular so it was easy to gather a good portion of her backlist and with a new novel released every few months, I didn’t have to wait long between reads. When I was in my early 20s a set of movie adaptations from the Danielle Steel novels was released. Of course, I devoured those as well. I remember how excited I was to see many of my favourite novels on the small screen, and while they were pretty standard in terms of the acting and over-the-top-dramatics, they were still highly entertaining and I made sure I never missed one.
Danielle Steel’s stories had all the hallmarks of a soap opera, which is probably why they were so addictive for me. I was studying my for my high school senior certificate and then for a double degree straight after that, so I appreciated the fact that I could pick up a novel and read without having to really think, yet still get lost in the story in a most enjoyable way. Over the years, I read each and every one of Danielle Steel’s novels right up to The Klone and I, which I didn’t really enjoy. It was, I suppose, intended as more of a fun type of story, but I found it more on the side of silly and resented the fact that I had spent $20 on such a ridculous story when I had previously come to rely on Danielle Steel’s novels as a sure thing. I knew they were formulaic, but I began to question the speed with which she released each novel and wondered if they were all even written by her anymore. She had gone from releasing a novel every three months or so to every six weeks, a task that seemed to stretch the boundaries of believability. So I moved on to other authors and didn’t look back.
Last year I was tempted to check Danielle Steel out again and I purchased Undercover, which sounded pretty good from the blurb. Sadly, I was disappointed. It just seemed like a story ‘half-written’ and I ended up skimming the second half, loathe to completely waste my money by not finishing. I have only kept two of my long ago bought Danielle Steels – No Greater Love and Message From Nam. No Greater Love was a Titanic love story and I read it over and over so when it came to the time when I was clearing out old books to make space for new, I couldn’t bear to part with this old favourite. Message From Nam was always going to be a keeper. I loved it so much it cemented my determination to study Journalism and did much to ignite my high regard for foreign correspondents, particularly those who report from war zones.
It’s funny to look back and consider the books that you used to love, especially when your tastes have changed and you no longer find those books appealing. I can’t help but admire Danielle Steel’s enduring readership though; she still remains highly popular and prolific with her releases. At one point in time for me, her novels enhanced my leisure time greatly.