When I was sixteen, I discovered Danielle Steel. It was effectively my graduating from Sweet Valley High phase. As well as reading her, as they then were, new releases, which included Daddy (my first), Message From Nam, and No Greater Love, I also explored her, already extensive, backlist. I built up my collection of Danielle Steel paperback novels, over the next few years, until losing interest, and donating the books to the local charity shop.
And yet, the passion has returned. I have been buying and enjoying her books, in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats. I have rediscovered old favourites, and also found many new ones.
I have so many thoughts and feelings about the books I’m revisiting, and those I’m newly discovering. I’m by no means exclusively reading Danielle Steel novels, but they are definitely some of my current favourites.
It’s interesting, when I consider many of the criticisms made about Danielle’s writing style, with which I don’t entirely disagree.
For example, does her writing suffer from a tendency towards tell not show? Often, yes. Personally, I actually find more of a problem with her habit of telling in addition to showing. It can be so frustrating at times, especially when the simple cutting of a sentence or two of superfluous telling, following perfectly competent showing, would make the world of difference. To be honest, I question what her editorial team are being paid for at times.
Danielle uses more reported speech than many authors would aim to include, but at the point when this is becoming almost too much, she will usually then switch to some strong lines of on the page dialogue, and the balance doesn’t feel bad.
At times, she does write descriptively. Some of the detail in her descriptions of clothes, and notably wedding dresses, is beautiful, and a joy to read. She can describe locations well too, when she decides to do so. Is there ever White Room Syndrome in her novels? For sure. But Danielle certainly can create a sense of place and atmosphere.
It could be said that Danielle includes too much character backstory, and that she info dumps, particularly in early chapters. Perhaps. And yet, her style does work. I don’t even mind that she will give more background information than is strictly necessary about minor characters, because she does so in a way that is entertaining.
The pacing of her stories is often – although, by no means always – comparatively slow. However, this suits the type of fiction Danielle tends to write, which is primarily Women’s Fiction.
And yes, Women’s Fiction. I’m precise about that term. Few of Danielle’s novels are Romance, in the strict genre sense, although romance features heavily in her works. The focus is often upon relationships more generally, including family relationships and friendships.
I’ve struggled to write blog posts lately, but am hoping to write reviews of some specific Danielle Steel novels. Watch this space? We’ll see. Meanwhile, I’m definitely appreciating her stories, and there are many to choose from, as she is admirably prolific.
I’ve previously written a review of The Enchanted April, which may be of interest.