The good: Always a cracking storyline with multiple hurdles for Sydney.
The not-so-good: The cover is gorgeous, but doesn’t really make a lot of sense until the very end.
Why I chose it: Danielle Steel’s novels are a fun comfort read during busy times. Thank you Pan Macmillan for the copy.
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Setting: Primarily New York City
Rating: 9 out of 10
Danielle Steel, without fail, always writes a cracking story. I never fail to be amazed or gasp out loud at the trials and tribulations she puts her characters through. While there is almost always a happy ending, the road to get there is full of hairpin bends and danger. Say what you want about her books, but I know I can continually rely on Danielle Steel to entertain me and take me to places I’ve never been.
Poor Sydney Wells, the heroine of Fall From Grace, is not exempted from the torment of Steel’s characters. Things start off badly for her when her husband dies unexpectedly. The problem is, he never changed his will to include Sydney and her stepdaughters want her out – now. She’s cast from a life of luxury to having very little in an instant. (If you’re thinking, oh this is like The Duchess – it isn’t. Completely different). Sydney is practical – she needs to liquidate what assets she has and re-join the workforce at 49. Fortunately, she happens to be sitting next to the owner of a cheap, ‘knock-off’ fashion house on a plane when it runs into trouble. Sydney spills the beans on her troubles and Paul Zeller offers her a job as a fashion designer. Her daughters are aghast at this and warn her not to, but it’s the only job Sydney can get. She’s not comfortable with copying designers’ work so closely, but she makes a good friend working at Lady Louise. Sydney’s life seems to be on the up, but everything comes crashing down again for her. This time she’s portrayed as a criminal. Can she fight her way out again?
I thought the writing style was really strong in this book. Sometimes I’ve found Danielle Steel’s books to be a bit halting in their sentences with occasionally big jumps in the narrative, but this was the best yet for me. It flowed really well and captured all the highs and lows of Sydney’s life. The emotion was very well done as Sydney negotiates unfamiliar territory. I liked how even when she hit rock bottom, there was always an element of resolve in her character – how could she work through it? Sydney also wasn’t your typical heroine – she’s older, divorced and widowed. At a time when society sees women in their fifties as being past their use by date, Sydney bucks that trend in a combination of necessity and determination. You could argue that she should have ensured her husband changed his will after their marriage but if she did, we wouldn’t have a story. (But in real life, make sure your affairs are up to date!)
Another great thing about Danielle Steel is the variety of topics and settings in her books. In Fall From Grace, we get a look inside the fashion world. It’s good and bad with the glimpses into Fashion Week but also makes you consider the ethics around ‘inspired by’ fashion at cheap prices. Is it right to nearly copy designer pieces and sell them for lower prices? What about intellectual copyright? What about those who can’t afford haute couture?
As always, this was a comfort read that doesn’t disappoint.