The Whittiers by #DanielleSteel #NetGalley #eArcReview #BookReview

“Preston and Constance Whittier have built a happy life together with a brood of six children raised in a beautiful historic Manhattan mansion. Now, with a nearly empty nest, it’s easier than ever for the Whittiers to maintain their tradition of a solo romantic “wintermoon” ski trip.

But with this year’s trip comes tragedy. Suddenly, their adult children find themselves reuniting in the family home without their parents for the first time ever. The oldest, Lyle, is reaching a breaking point in his marriage and must decide whether a divorce would be best for him and his two children. Gloria’s big job on Wall Street has kept her single at forty, and growing ever more cynical. The twins, Caroline and Charlie, moved out long ago to start a fashion business that may now be faltering. Benjie, with special needs, is hit hard by the loss of his parents and needs his siblings’ help. And Annabelle, the youngest, drops out of college and starts to spin out of control.

The eldest four are forced to put aside their personal issues and their grief to keep the family together and support each other and their two youngest siblings. Selling the house, along with all the memories that live in its walls, feels like yet another devastating loss. Could there be another way, as unconventional as it seems?”

Danielle Steel books were my “gateway” books to adult reading when I was in junior high in the 1980’s, so I have a fondness for the prolific writer. Yet, at the same time, even at that young age, I thought I could write a Danielle Steel book because they were so formulaic. Much like my beloved Nancy Drew, rarely does Steel branch out and do something different, and I find comfort in that. After reading some pretty heavy non-fiction history books, I was ready for something that didn’t require a lot of thought. The Whittiers (Amazon US) (Amazon UK) is just that. I received an Advanced Reader’s Copy from NetGalley and Delacorte Press in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

If you’re a long-time fan of Danielle Steel, there’s nothing new with The Whittiers. In fact, if you go way back in her bibliography, you’d find a very similar story with Family Album (Amazon US) (Amazon UK), just updated to the 21st century. The Whittiers are a comfortably rich family in New York whose kids are all grown. Two of the kids, the two youngest, still live with them in a sprawling Fifth Avenue mansion. The youngest, Annabelle, drops out of college and starts partying too hard and all that comes with that. Benjie, 28, is on the autism spectrum so I was invested in his story since two of my children are as well. The twins, Caroline and Charlie, are in the fashion industry, working hard to build their brand. Gloria is a high-powered broker on Wall Street, and Lyle works in real estate and is the only one of his siblings that is married and has children. At least, for now.

One thing that Danielle Steel does and it amazes me that editors don’t do anything about it the incessant repetition of facts of story. She may mention something in one paragraph at the beginning, then repeat it again at the end of the paragraph, in the next paragraph, and again two pages later. There is absolutely no chance that you’ll forget even the most basic facts of the story. But she’s always written that way, and millions of readers don’t seem to mind. It does make it easier to read her stories, because if you’re just skimming through and miss something, it will be brought up again and again.

As with most Steel novels, not only are the people well off, but they’re all incredibly attractive and fashionable, and the romances that develop are with equally attractive and even more rich people. I’m actually surprised Danielle Steel had people with disabilities featured in her story at all but applaud her efforts to raise awareness that someone with an Autism diagnosis can in fact hold down a job and even fall in love.

It’s always nice to go down the rabbit hole of how the other half lives with Steel’s books, and that even well-off people have problems, albeit ones that are resolved within 400 pages. I enjoy her books like I enjoy a good pastry: delicious to eat, but not very filling. And you always go back for more.

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