At one time I had read most of Danielle Steeles novels but after a break of several years I wondered if her writing still had the power to draw me in and absorb me when I saw Accident on the bookshelves.
We start off playing happy families with 39 year old Page, 45 year old husband Brad and children Allyson 15, Andy 7. They live in San Francisco and as far as Page is concerned everything is near perfect, her marriage, children and lifestyle. So much so that she wonders about having another child before it’s too late.
Suddenly as is typical in Danielles novels their lives are torn apart one dreadful Saturday night. Allyson sneaks out on a double date with her school friend Chloe and two 17 year old boys Jamie and Phillip. It is Allysons very first date but knowing that her parents wont approve of her going out with an older boy she and Chloe tell their respective parents that they are at each others homes. They have an enjoyable night; a meal and the boys drink wine but only half a glass.
Allysons date Phillip is driving and the other couple are in the back seat. They are crossing the Golden Gate Bridge when another car driven by a Senators wife hits them. The crash causes the instantaneous death of the driver Phillip, Ally has terrific head injuries, Chloe has leg injuries and Jamie walks away with a few bruises. The senators wife is unharmed and her white dress isnt even marked.
She is going home from a party and claims not to have had a drink. The police believe her and dont bother to breathalyse her. They cannot tell how the accident was caused because there was too much damage to the youngsters car, but the implication in the newspapers is that Ben was under the influence of alcohol despite having had only half a glass of wine. The senators wife is an ex alcoholic and the families have to question whether she had lapsed and been drinking and if there was a cover up because of her husbands position.
Page rushes to the hospital to find her daughter in a coma and needing brain surgery. The doctors cannot tell whether she will live or not and if she lives how badly affected she will be. At first she cannot contact her husband who is supposed to be on a business trip and has to get in touch through his boss. Normally he leaves a contact number, why hasnt he this time, why did he sound annoyed at her and why did he only take an hour to get to the hospital when it should have taken six?
Yes the story drew me in and absorbed me for at least the first two thirds of the book. Danielle Steele writes in an easy to read manner that plays on your emotions. Throughout I wanted Allyson to come out of her coma and every time she had a setback and was expected to die I felt sad but then glad when she stabilised.
The book is mainly about a woman and mother dealing with problems that come out of the blue but are far reaching. Page has to juggle her life around spending hours at her daughters bedside willing her to come out of the coma and without much support. Wondering if she will ever be the same if she does, how much the familys lives will be affected if there is brain damage, but most of all preparing herself for Allysons death.
She also needs to spend quality time with her young son and faces the dilemma of should she reassure Andy and let him think that everything is going to be back to normal or should she prepare him for the worst. Then there are marital problems to be faced, more reassurance for Andy it isnt his fault that his wonderful father is turning into a rat.
More crap is thrown at Page when her selfish mother and sister who live in New York come to stay for a week. Supposedly out of concern but they expect to be waited on hand and foot and are more interested in shopping and getting their hair and nails done than visiting the hospital.
Danielle described those two characters very well. She made me loathe them but I think that she didnt need to go further and add that the two women had locked Page in her bedroom with her doctor father when she was a young teenager. Too much information and I felt unnecessary to bring incest into the storyline. I also felt that the whole scenario was unrealistic. If I had moved thousands of miles to get away from the gruesome twosome I wouldnt have them to stay in my home thats for sure. But then Danielle was throwing every bit of conflict that she could at her main character to test her strength and courage.
As a main character, Page came across well. We are shown that a woman portrayed originally as very ordinary can produce an extraordinary amount of inner strength to enable her to deal with terrible situations without falling apart.
There are some special moments in the book when Andy befriends Bjorn, Chloes 18 year old brother. Bjorn has a mental age of ten and loves being around young children and Andy is proud to have an older friend. It was a nice touch to add the character of Bjorn and a demonstration of how good can come from bad. I would have liked to read more about the developing friendship, it expressed to me how young children dont have prejudices and can easily accept somebody who is a little different. A week after finishing Accident I feel that I enjoyed those small sections the most.
I enjoyed reading the rest of the book to a certain extent, my emotions were played with and at first I found it hard to put down. Then the storyline became all too familiar and I realised why I had stopped reading Danielle Steele before. After the first few chapters I had a good idea of what was going to happen, leaving little surprise element, though the ending did leave some questions unanswered.
If I were new to reading Danielle Steeles novels I would probably have thoroughly enjoyed this one. Perhaps over familiarity with her style and technique induced a boredom in me towards the end which I would normally only find when reading work from less skilled authors. I feel a little sad to be taking Danielle Steele off my reading list knowing that I was previously enthusiastic about her work. I have changed but Danielle hasn’t.
I find it hard to rate this novel because I would have found it compelling throughout a few years ago and know that my tastes have changed. Therefore I will recommend it to those who like a romantic/tragic read with the power to play on your emotions