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Danielle Steel - The Sins of the Mother

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Danielle Steel - The Sins of the Mother

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Danielle Steel - The Sins of the Mother

 

Author: Danielle Steel
Audience: General
Pages: 368
Width: 153 mm
Length: 234 mm
Book Review
Motherhood is the preoccupation of Danielle Steel’s latest novel The Sins of the Mother. A household name for her romance writing, she owns the title of fourth bestselling author of all time (how much do you get for shifting 800 million books?) and dedicates her latest novel to her nine children. Having divorced her fifth husband 10 years ago, Steel now divides her time between a home in Paris and a 55-room San Francisco mansion built by a sugar tycoon in 1913.
 
The titular mother is, like her creator, entirely self-made. Olivia Grayson is an icon in the fashion world after devoting her adult life to turning her father’s small business into a multinational home-furnishings empire. At 69 she has no intention of ceding power to either of her sons, Phillip, the company’s chief financial officer, and John, who serves as head of creative and design.
Phillip’s ambitious, emasculating lawyer wife Amanda makes no secret of her displeasure, comparing her husband to king-in-waiting Prince Charles and deriding his refusal to press the issue of succession. She wants to be appointed to the bench, and it won’t do for her to be married to “just the CFO”, even if the firm is worth billions.
John’s marriage to university professor Sarah is almost too happy. To paraphrase Patti Davis, the daughter of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, her parents shouldn’t have had children – they were so in love with each other there was no room for anyone else. The Graysons’ only child Alex is in a similar predicament, having only his grandmother to turn to about a weighty matter of adolescence.
Daughter Liz has two daughters of her own, from two brief, tabloid-friendly marriages, and a bad case of trust-funditis. Having failed to establish a career as a writer, her self-esteem is shot, and like her siblings, for reasons of their own, she dreads the annual sojourn that is the emotional apex of Olivia’s calendar. Every northern summer, the matriarch arranges a no-expense-spared family holiday, and this year the clan is to cruise the Mediterranean on a luxuriously appointed yacht with a crew of 24.
The only absent member is a fourth adult child, Cass who never joins the family trips, preferring to keep her mother at a polite distance. Olivia’s great sin, you see, was leaving her children to be raised by their father and maternal grandmother as she devoted every available hour to empire-building. She was always loving, but usually absent, and is only now discovering there’s no recapturing lost time.
Steel doesn’t delve much beyond the superficial and, as ever, her storytelling is unapologetically overwrought: after learning of the unexpected yet harmless affair of a family member, Phillip “stared at her in unbridled fury”; at a funeral of a person whom absolutely everyone adored, “there’s not a dry eye in the house.”
Not much about The Sins of the Mother is terribly reminiscent of real life, unless you happen to be a Russian oligarch, but the second half of the novel in particular demands that readers propel their already-suspended disbelief to new heights. It’s pure fantasy, a world of unlimited wealth where romantic love and professional triumph land in one’s lap, and who can blame the writer for believing it to be possible? She shows every sign of having created such a world for herself.

 


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