cover image Daddy


Danielle Steel. Delacorte Press, $19.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-385-29766-0

Steel's captivating 25th novel will send her rocketing past the 125-million mark for books in print and satisfy avid fans with its splashy sentiment, loudly plucked heartstrings and boldly drawn, if superficially developed, cast. Oliver Watson is a successful, rather stolid, advertising executive with a beautiful wife, Sarah, three children, Ben, Melissa and Sam, and a house in suburban New York. But his paradise is teetering over an abyss: Sarah, who never wanted a conventional life, coldly abandons husband and kids to ``find herself'' by pursuing a master's degree at Harvard. Then Oliver's mother dies of Alzheimer's disease, leaving his 72-year-old father bereft, and 17-year-old Ben fathers a child and drops out of school. Oliver blames the unremittingly icy Sarah for every sorrow, yet initially refuses to get on with his life, even when his father points the way by finding a new love. Steel ( Star ; Zola ) is at the top of her bestselling form as she steers Oliver through a fearsome new world of single parenthood, modern women and radically changed sexual mores before winding up with a paean to family life and romance. Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club dual main selection. (Nov.)