Prather’s Pick: Danielle Steel’s new novel a page-turner
It has been awhile since I’ve reviewed a novel by Danielle Steel. The last time I was in the library, I picked up “The Right Time,” one of Steel’s new novels (copyright 2017). It turns out this is one of my favorite novels by the author.
The leading character is Alexandra Cortez Winslow. The reader meets Alex as a 7-year-old child, lying in bed trying not to listen as her parents argue. Lately, the arguments have been getting worse.
Alex’s father is Eric Winslow, head of a construction company in Boston. After his first wife, Barbara, died of cancer, he met and quickly married Carmen, a beautiful model. Eric met Carmen in Miami, and when he brought her home to Boston, the change of location was a culture shock for her.
Carmen was 20 years old when Alex was born, and she wasn’t ready for motherhood. Before long, she was leaving her baby with Eric and their housekeeper, Elena, while she spent time in Miami with her friends. Before long, she was in Miami more and more. When she came back, the arguments started.
Finally, when Alex was 7, Carmen left home for good. Now, Eric spends quality time with Alex, taking her to baseball games, going on vacations and reading to her. Eric has a passion for crime thrillers, but he has read all of the children’s classics to Alex. Recently, he has gotten her started on Nancy Drew books.
One day, Alex asks her father if he thinks she could write a mystery book one day. He says she probably could, adding that most mystery writers are men. He doesn’t think he could read a mystery thriller written by a woman.
When Alex is in sixth grade, her English teacher requests a meeting with Eric. She shows him a story Alex has written. It’s a mystery thriller that Mrs. Faber considers “morbid.” She suggests that an 11-year-old who could imagine such violence should be evaluated by a psychologist.
Eric, however, realizes the story is brilliant. He encourages Alex to continue writing but to leave the stories at home. He gives her a Smith Corona portable typewriter for her 12th birthday. Alex continues to write, but life isn’t easy for her.
Alex’s mother is killed in an accident, then Eric develops early onset Alzheimer’s. He dies when she is in high school.
Boarding school is an option for Alex, but then, Jane, the wife of the family attorney, asks her cousin, Mother Mary Margaret, if Alex might live at the convent. It isn’t just any convent. Twenty-six nuns live in the residence for teaching and nursing. They teach classes for women, including Pilates, cooking and photography. Alex settles into a small room where she keeps all her books and her typewriter. Not only that, but the women are incredibly supportive. They encourage Alex to write the mysteries.
When Alex is in college, she writes her first novel, and Mother Mary Margaret helps her find an agent. Alex remembers her father’s words about women writing mysteries, so she writes under a male pseudonym, Alexander Green. Her novels are extremely popular.
There are lots of twists and turns in this book, and through them, Steel reveals a special message for readers about unique talents.
I picked up a Random House Large Print book, which costs $31 in softcover, but you can also find the book in hardcover with regular print. You can find the novel with new books at the Craig branch of Moffat County Libraries.