Apparently, anything can be a book. In today's world, the subjectivity of quality has overrun fine arts. And of course, author Danielle Steel has taken over the reins of this vast tide, proudly demonstrating that truly, anything can be a book.
In her novel A Good Woman, she tries to tell the story of a woman's life in the time of World War One, riddled with trauma. How she learns, overcomes and grows up, eventually becoming a good woman.
Sounds like a decent idea, right? So why does this novel leave its readers perplexed at the amount of time wasted in reading through it all?
Let's begin with our protagonist, Annabelle Worthington, who's behaviour is almost as pretentious as her name.
The first chapter begins with a long list of information, desperate to assure the reader that no, Annabelle is not the quintessential socialite. She's not like other girls. She's rich, but she's humble. She looks like Barbie but doesn't know it. She's unfathomably intelligent but wait, she doesn't know that either. She's straight forward but also meek. She's kind but strong. She's well versed and educated, but isn't afraid to get her hands dirty.
And of course the even longer list of flaws :
She's too kind for her own good and *chapter ends*.
Yes, Annabelle Worthington. The dryest, whitest, most flat lined character in the history of women written by women.
Moving on to the plot, Annabelle's life is turned upside down when her father and brother die on the Titanic.
She grieves for a few days and after a few chapters we move on to the next subplot. And the next. And the next. And the next.
For instance, her husband commits adultery, and once found out, asks her to file for divorce on said grounds. But Annabelle refuses. She cannot find it in her heart to divorce him, and would rather have him file for divorce on the same grounds, therefore signing a contract of lifelong harassment and isolation from her peers.
Why does she do this, you ask? Well, dear reader, I have wracked my brain trying to find a substantial reason behind this decision but am yet to have come to a conclusion.
I guess Annabelle Worthington's mind works in mysterious ways, it is simply impossible for us to fathom this selfless act of servitude to an unfaithful husband.
After all, we are told at the very beginning...
Annabelle is loyal.
Ofcourse there are a few times when horrible things happen to her, occurances for which she cannot be held accountable. However, the entire story has a very obvious pattern of Annabelle jumping from trauma to trauma with no mention of how she comes to terms with any of it or how it shapes her as a person.
A series of misfortunes is narrated to us in a redundantly underwhelming manner to the point where while reading, I found myself convinced that this was to be the police report on her eventual suicide.
But ofcourse, we were told at the very beginning… Annabelle is strong.
Therefore, after zero build up and even less conflict resolution, we are finally met with a grown Annabelle, who's conveniently decided she's totally fine and has become the aforementioned "good woman."
Perhaps it's because of her dull, impersonal writing but Danielle Steel somehow manages to make the readers feel close to nothing for a survivor of war, and victim of SA.
The whole point of a novel is to take the reader on a journey. To allow us to live through the story and assign personal meaning to it.
But when it's a novel narrating a list of traumatic experiences a seemingly random woman has to go through, with no plot progression, seasoned with a pinch of horrendous writing, it leaves you wondering why you wasted two entire days on it and then another one to leave a bad verdict.
If this review were as dry as the novel being reviewed, the entire article would be replaced with " A Good Woman, a bad book."
Waziha Aziz is an eleventh grader from Chattogram, Bangladesh with a passion for literature. When not writing, she spends her time crossing books out of her teetering TBR and listening to boring playlists. You can find her on instagram @useless_depressing_poetry.