Saturday, 13 November 2010

Somebody knock me out!

I went to the library and on the spur of the moment picked up a Danielle Steel book - among other books. The last time I read a Danielle Steel was about seven years ago when I was in high school. In total I think I've read about five of her books. Right, so I opened it and started reading. Page one, I thought hmm...Page two, again hmm...Page three, hmm...Then I thought, right, I can't take this anymore but let me give it another go. So I kept reading until I finished three chapters before deciding that was it. I couldn't do it. I put the book down and started wondering what exactly my teenage self saw in those books to read five of them.

The writing is atrocious I'm sorry to say. It's dull, repetitive and too simple. I don't know what she thinks of her audience to write like that. I mean I was just entering my teens when I started reading her books - for some reason these books were all over my school and since everyone seemed to be reading them I thought why not. Back then I thoroughly enjoyed them. I don't think I gave much thought to style at that age. I was an indiscriminate reader and relished being in the company of some work of fiction instead of finishing my homework. But really, it's puzzling so I kept wondering, is this her targeted audience? People who want simple reading? There is a great article on this blog and one commenter seems to think so. She targeted this particular audience and stuck with it, became famous and successful and that was it, it doesn't matter anymore. The same stuff keeps being churned out. How does she do it? People keep buying and reading.

Personally, I think her writing is mere chick lit. Indubitably romance although she insists it's not. If it's not romance, what is it then? Even when I was reading her books as a teenager I chose them for the sole purpose that they were romantic books. I was going to read about a tall, handsome man sweeping an equally beautiful woman in his arms, and they were going to have the best night of their lives together. I expected and wanted that at that age, and that's what I got. But now I'm so glad I know better. The book that I borrowed is Second Chance. Each time I turned over a page, I sighed. It's sucked the energy out of me and I kept asking myself why was I even wasting my time. In this book the protagonist is editor-in-chief of a leading fashion magazine. Danielle - on the word go - describes how beautiful and elegant she is, how hardworking, no nonsense but fair everyone finds her. They all respect and adore her. How she is content with her life and her dog and does not need a man. She is independent. Hmm...OK, great. But then she repeats this description over and over again. Protagonist goes to her house where she's throwing a party, party is over she goes to sleep, this description comes up again. Next morning she's awake preparing for work, we get this description again. I mean, just too much padding. Same goes for all her other characters. There is just too much filling you'd be forgiven for thinking it was written by an amateur. It's ludicrous and tedious.

I'm returning the book on Monday. That's me done with Danielle Steel I'm afraid. There are so many talented writers out there and so many more captivating books than hers. It was good while I was teenager and I'm so glad I never touched another one for a long time.

Discuss! I'd like to hear your views.


  1. Well, your taste does change over the years, so I can understand you liking them in the past and not anymore now.

    That being said: lots of crappy writers have a huge fan base that got me scratching my head.
    For example: I think Stephen King is a very bad writer. He's got good ideas, but his writing is very forced and his stories usually ramble too much. Still he's one of the most celebrated authors.

    Apparantly there are enough readers who do not mind sloppy writing as long as the story is entertaining. I myself only on occasion indulge into reading badly written but entertaining stories, but mostly I want my writing to be good as well as I love to not only enjoy a story, but also the flow of the text.

  2. @Sullivan Yes, I understand taste does change over the years, but I was a bit shocked by this because most of the books I used to read when I was a teenager, I still do occasionally enjoy. It just never occured to me that such a successful writer could have this in her work and not many people seem to be talking about it. Or maybe I haven't carried out enough research.

    I also don't understand people who read books just because they are entertaining or just because it's the 'familiar'. For me the writing itself is part of being entertained so I won't put up with sloppy writing.