Danielle Steel VII – Five Days in Paris pub. 1995


Sorry for shouting, but this book made me soooo mad. I wouldn’t mind if Steel was consistent in her hatred of anyone who wants to live their own life, but why is it perfectly acceptable for the hero of this book to leave his wife, dying father in law and three teenage sons when he realizes he is not living the life he wants, but for Sarah to do so in ‘Daddy’ is completely unacceptable, and she must be punished with the early death of her lover and the emotional abandonment by her children.

Peter is white/rich/middle class. He lives with her beautiful charming socialite wife and teenage sons, and works running his father-in-law’s pharmaceutical company. The story opens with him taking a business trip to Paris to oversee the final tests of a cancer-therapy his company is producing before he takes it to the FDA, whatever that is. Like all her science based story lines, the drug is based on something that could make sense, but I don’t really understand it, so it matters not to me that it doesn’t.

Peter is a “good” person, he cares about his family, works hard and doesn’t want to kill anyone for profit (like you’re supposed to do), and so when he finds that the drug in development is “a killer” (why? we don’t know, do we care? no!) it makes him re-evaluate his entire life. He cannot bring himself to tell his over bearing father-in-law, who also happens to be his boss. This leads to him thinking about how he found himself in this position. He married his wife after university, even though his small town dairy farmer family don’t approve because she is rich and her father will treat him like a ‘hired hand’. The amazing lifestyle and opportunities that marrying the only daughter of a pharmaceutical giant provides prove too tempting for him in the end. Fifteen years later finds him in Paris, where he realities he actually doesn’t want this life, and doesn’t want his wife and doesn’t want his job and all he wants, all he really wants, is to be with this woman *who he has just met*.

Yes, once again, eyes cross across a crowded Ritz Hotel foyer and love blossoms *for not reason at all*. Except this time, there is a slight reason. The lucky beautiful fragile heroine is Olivia, the wife of senator Andy Thatcher. Her life is awful, married to a man she doesn’t love, but trapped because of obligations to him and her political dynasty family. She also lost a son to cancer two years ago.

Olivia and Peter meet when a bomb threat to their hotel forces everyone outside, and they go for a coffee. They have one of ‘those nights’ where they learn everything about each other etc etc. She then decides to leave her husband and runs away to a village in the south of France. He follows her there, and they have a passionate three days together. This is “all they are aloud” because, you know they’re married !!!!!!!!

This really really pissed me off. It doesn’t matter how shitty your life is, or how little you love the person you re with, you don’t shag about. No matter how big and beautiful her eyes are or how much she makes you want to throw your arms around her and protect her from all the bad things in the worlds, you do not shag about.. I know that sounds really evangelical Christian of me and everything, but would have really really belittled him to go back to America, dump his wife, sort out his affairs, explain the situation to his three teenage sons, and then shag about? No! It bloody wouldn’t! This book condones adultery and for that reason I really really didn’t enjoy it. The second half is predictable and they both “try to return to their lives”, but their love for each other is so strong they cannot bare to be apart, and end up finding each other again anyway. Peter keeps the moral high ground throughout the book even though he was shagging someone else whilst still married by refusing to sell the “killer” drug on the market or defend its release to the FDA, and this someone makes him a god person, I suppose, but still he left his three teenage sons for a woman he fell in love with in one night, who just happened to have a slightly more tragic history than his, and listened to what he had to say and hit. This, to my mind, is not love, this is lust, combined with loneliness and a mid life crises.

Once again, this book made me feel cynical, unromantic and out of touch with my feelings, which I don’t really like being, but thats why I don’t read romantic fiction like this normally anymore. Never mind. ON to the next one.


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