Reviewed by Wendy Lipke
The Numbers Game is the latest offering of the prolific writer, Danielle Steel who was born in 1947. She now has 179 books to her credit over a five-decade career and has been referred to as the bestselling author alive and the fourth bestselling fiction author of all time.
For her many fans this novel will be a pleasant way to help fill in the time when we are all being told to stay at home because of the Corona Virus pandemic.
Her storylines are predictable and usually include someone rich and famous. In this case, it is a movie star and her extremely talented sculptress and welder mother who is in her nineties. The granddaughter, though still young, has her own successful business. This family, however, is not the main focus of the story but they are still linked to the family who is.
Like most of Steel’s storylines, this latest book involves the characters in a crisis which threatens their relationship. Paul and Eileen Jackson married because Eileen was pregnant. Paul has always resented this imposed situation although he still loves his children very much. It is not until their daughter Pennie is faced with a similar situation that much of his resentment surfaces, yet he still insists that Pennie should get married. He begins to distance himself from the family and becomes involved in an affair with Olivia, the actress’s daughter.
All the main characters face a crisis and have to work their way through them. The way they do is the main focus in the story. It is interesting to see how theylearn more about themselves when facing new situations. I believe the storyline becomes more personal and realistic through this process. It is probably this aspect of Steel’s work that has led to her success.
Over her lifetime Steel’s writing has evolved. Her later heroines tend to be stronger and more authoritative, who, if they do not receive the level of respect and attention they desire from a man, move on to a new life. Strong female characters areevident in this latest novel. Pennie refuses to marry the father of her child as she has seen what this has done to her own parents. Olivia, who finds herself in the role of the mistress soon realises that this is not going to work for her. If she is to be with Paul, she wants to be the focus of his attention and not have to share him with his children. She ends the affair. When her husband moves out, Eileen finds herself with three nearly grown up children and begins to focus on her life into the future. Olivia’s mother and grandmother also live their lives on their own terms.
Steel has sometimes been criticized for making her books overly redundant and detailed, explicitly telling the story to readers instead of showing it to them. There is very little introspection for any of the participants. I found it somewhat tedious being told who gave what to whom for Christmas to have this followed by who was wearing the article given by whom.
I must admit that the title of the book, The Numbers Game, did intrigue me. Danielle Steel has provided a clue herself at the beginning of the book with The Wisdom of the Ages.
At 17: You chafe in frustration.
At 27: Your 20s are so annoying.
At 39: Is life over?
At 56: Is everything waning?
At 92: You have figured it out or are still working on it.
These numbers are the ages of her female characters.
The novel finishes with the oldest female character being congratulated on her age when she heads off on her honeymoon. To this she replies, “It’s just a number” (270).
The storyline was engaging and followed real life issues. This novel will satisfy most readers of this type of genre as everyone has a happy ending.
The Numbers Game