So, Danielle Steel is evidently one of the best-selling fiction authors of all time. Up there with, you know, William Shakespeare and Agatha Christie. She's the best-selling living author. She's written like a hundred and fifty books. All I have to say for this is...I guess it's the sheer volume of book she's written that's selling, because the quality certainly isn't there.
The premise of this book--a group of people meets in Paris every year, has a pop-up dinner at a famous monument, and then departs, with the story following a group of friends over the course of a year between one dinner and the next--sounded interesting. Action heavy, no, but with plenty of room for character-driven drama. And I remember my mom having so many Danielle Steel books on her shelves when I was little...surely there must be a reason for that! So I was expecting a decent amount here. Not the world, but a decent story with good characters and solid writing.
I didn't get it. While there is character-driven drama, it's petty and superficial and the writing is that of a first draft. Clearly, when you're putting out three or four books a year, you don't have much time to polish them, and I guess people just let this awful writing go by with the excuse of, "Oh well, it's Danielle Steel, it's fine!" It is not fine. Comma splices abound here, sentences are redundant, and the story is all tell and no show. None of the characters have any depth to them at all. The whole thing has a very superficial feel to it despite what could have been some very heart-wrenching or uplifting story lines. As it was, I couldn't really bring myself to care about any of the six main characters. This is, at its heart, a book about Rich People Problems, but its not a good one. Stories about Rich People Problems can actually be very funny, or very humanizing. This wasn't any of it. While some characters here were in really awful situations--one woman's husband leaves her for his twenty-four-year-old model girlfriend, and the woman is left trying to juggle their huge business with the dissolution of their marriage; another couple faces upheaval in their marriage when an amazing job offer threatens to pull the husband halfway around the world for three years--the writing made them come off as more whiny than genuinely troubled or torn, and that's rather disappointing to me.
I read this book for a reading challenge category (a best-seller from 2016) and honestly I can't see myself reading anything else by Steel based on the experience here. It has a startlingly high rating (3.9/5) on Goodreads, given the extremely poor quality...but then, people went crazy for Fifty Shades of Gray too, didn't they? Reviews seem to largely consist of "Oh, it's a fun summer/beach/weekend read, very light!" but being light, or a summer or beach read, and being good are not mutually exclusive, nor should they be.
2 star out of 5.