Reviewed by Wendy Lipke
Danielle Steel is an extremely prolific writer with six new novels published during 2019 and five more planned for 2020. The Numbers Game was published in March 2020 and her latest presentation, The Wedding Dress, is due for publication in late April.
Although she has a very strong following world-wide, and she can put together an interesting tale, I wonder whether the speed with which these books surface is affecting the quality of the writing. When I had read up to page eighty-eight of the Wedding Dress, I suddenly became aware that I had read the same pronoun eight times on the one page, and three times in one sentence. I also realised that to this stage of the story, I had been informed four times that the depression, which started in 1929 and had America in its grip, would last for ten years. This looseness of writing should have been picked up by the writer herself or at least the proof reader or editor. For me this took something away from my enjoyment of this story.
Danielle’s storyline once again includes the lives of the rich and famous. The central characters, Louise and Charles Devereaux and their only surviving child, Eleanor, live in a mansion on Nob Hill.
Charles was heir to one of the two most important banking fortunes in San Francisco. Therefore, it was not unusual that Eleanor and her mother should travel to Paris for a personally designed gown from one of the world’s top designers when Eleanor was to be officially presented to society as a debutante. Later, after she had become engaged to Alex Allen, from the other important banking family in the city, she would return to Paris for the gown she would wear at her wedding. This was planned to be the wedding of the century so no expense was spared.
In The Wedding Dress story, Danielle Steel takes the reader to these heady days in the late 1920s and through the devastating times of the stock market crash which ruined most of the American wealthy at the time. The reader is given an insight into how this demographic coped at this time and into the Great Depression which followed.
The story follows the lives of the family members as they dispose of their assets for a pittance and search for an income and somewhere to live. The generations that follow then take centre-stage and the reader becomes privy to their loves and hates, their happiness and sorrow and all the family dynamics involved. The author foregrounds the changing societal norms, from the decadent times of the affluent and survival after the depression, through World War 2, the drug scene and on to the tech world and how each of these affected this family’s history.
Through all of this history two things are prominent – the original family mansion and the wedding dress purchased in Paris.
‘Ruby was helping Kendall dress, and carefully step into the eighty-two-year-old gown…Kendall was the third bride to wear it…and (she) was wearing the same veil, and her great-great-grandmother’s tiara… (she carried a bouquet) which was entirely made of orchids and lily of the valley, as Eleanor’s and Ruby’s had been’ (288).
The family mansion, although it had to be sold during the Depression, was still able to be the venue for the family weddings and would once again become the property of the family.
This author is the consummate story teller and her detailed descriptions of material things is superb. However, when compared with more modern writers, her writing style is somewhat old fashioned and very wordy. She also errs on the side of believing that she needs to ‘tell’ the reader every little detail, and sometimes more than once. In this way the writing style becomes somewhat repetitive. This author’s style reminded me of the Mills and Boon romances I used to read over fifty years ago.
Another interesting look at society from the pen of Danielle Steel.
Pan Macmillan Australia