cover image Kaleidoscope


Danielle Steel. Delacorte Press, $18.95 (395pp) ISBN 978-0-385-29594-9

The pages of Steel's newest novel are packed with an assortment of one-dimensional characters, each one more broadly sketched than the last. Sam Walker and Arthur Patterson, American soldiers in war-torn Paris, fall in love with Solange, a proud young Frenchwoman. Having won her, Sam brings his beautiful war bride to New York, where he instantly sets Broadway agog at his acting talent, mercurial temper and restless love affairs. Tragedy strikes when he kills Solange during an argument, and later himself, orphaning their three pampered daughters. Arthur cravenly arranges adoptions for the youngest two, but nine-year-old Hilary is dealt a life of utter misery. Determined to reunite her little family, she grimly survives only to find that the man responsible for her torment has lost all traces of her sisters. Years later, John Chapman is hired by a dying, penitent Arthur to find the sisters and bring them together. As he follows their trails, Chapman becomes obsessed by his quarryone the wife of a French baron, one a doctor in Appalachia and the third a cold, ambitious network executiveand his search for a happy ending that will wipe away the awful past. The book gets off to a slow, overly sweet start, but by the midway mark Steel has given these tired characters a fresh look and a vibrant momentum all their own. Major ad/promo. (November 6)