Saturday, April 08, 2017

“The Mistress” by Danielle Steel –A Triangle of Obsessions

The Mistress by Danielle Steel (Book cover)

Danielle Steel Tackles a Dangerous Romance

The subject of forbidden love is about as old as humanity itself as we have always managed to find factors by which divide ourselves, including skin colour, ethnic origin, religious adherence, social standing, wealth... it's the kind of list that inexhaustibly goes on and on.

Nevertheless, it hasn't stopped countless people from trying to jump over those barriers and go for the life they believed fate had planned for them all along.

It's a concept so courageous and romantic in its nature that it has tantalized the imaginations of many famous authors throughout the centuries, and continues doing so to this very day, as is evidenced by Danielle Steel's The Mistress.

To keep things as simple as possible, we are first introduced to Natasha Leonova and Vladimir Stanislas, a couple with an unusual arrangement. The latter, a Russian billionaire with untold powers, found Natasha on the freezing streets of Moscow one day and saved her from certain death.

Since then, they have entered a mutually-beneficial arrangement: she does what is asked of her without asking any questions, and in exchange receives protection as well as an easy life of pleasure and luxury.

For seven years they have gone on this way, to the point where each one has become an indispensable part of the other one's world. However, the delicate balance is about to be shattered as they make the acquaintance of Theo Luca, a gifted artist and son to a world-famous painter.

Struck by the young man's talent, Vladimir commissions a painting of Natasha and becomes intent on getting has hands on the painting despite the fact that Theo's works are not for sale.

As the artist paints his muse an attraction is born between the two, one that could put but of them in terrible danger at the smallest slip-up.

A Clear Purpose

Without being insulting, it is obvious to a certain extent that Danielle Steel repeats some of the same ideas from one book to the next, and to her credit manages to make them feel new every time.

In this case we are once again brought into the world of the excessively rich and powerful elite, are presented with the sad element of a perilous love, and a resolution where everything ends on a happy note.

While the broad strokes here are a bit formulaic, it is worth remembering that formulas exist for a reason: we actually enjoy them. This isn't the kind of book that tries to raise the bar or blow the reader away with unparalleled originality; rather, it's designed to provide a specific, familiar, and enjoyable experience.

The story itself is a testament to this approach, putting us in familiar situations but still leaving room for intensity, suspense, and a few plot twists.

While the major points do feel predictable to a certain extent, the ending included, we do get a few surprises along the road that help to keep us on our toes.

The delivery is also quite enjoyable and often makes us forget the feeling of knowing what's coming ahead, allowing us to lose ourselves in the beauty of the moment.

Unfortunately, there is one negative aspect that stands out sorely, and it's the ending itself. It felt quite rushed and under-developed, with everything coming to a close very abruptly in a way that just doesn't feel satisfactory; more details were warranted to explain the fates and inner worlds of the characters. With that being said, it doesn't go as far as ruining the whole book... rather, it's only a display of squandered potential.

The Memorable Cast

Talks of the story's weak points aside, there is more this book than the mere unravelling of the plot. The characters themselves, primary and secondary ones alike, are brought to life in interesting ways and given imaginative personalities with some palpable depth to them.

Even the ones that feel a bit more cliched will evoke some kind of reaction and judgement on your behalf, with no one really feeling indifferent or forgettable. The three protagonists caught up in the triangle become especially fascinating as the story develops for we learn about the powerful desires that drive them onwards to self-destructive goals.

Once all is said and done, they are three people with questionable moralities who are set on an inevitable collision course by the caprices of fate, and watching their growth as they navigate that figurative minefield is a very important and enjoyable part of this book.

It also greatly helps that Danielle Steel is an exceptional writer when it becomes a question of technique, never having trouble conveying what the characters are experiencing. When they behold a breathtaking sight, we find ourselves right next to them seeing the very same thing.

The Mistress by Danielle Steel (Book cover)
When they are gripped by sadness and despair we truly feel sorry and worried for them, almost impulsively prompted to act before remembering these are fake people in a fictional story. The wall dividing the reader and the character is quite thin, and that's a feat that can't be achieved by just any author.

The Final Verdict

Taking the good and the bad into consideration, I believe that The Mistress by Danielle Steel is a great book with some wasted potential that could have elevated it to the level of excellence.

Ultimately, the predictability of the story at certain segments is overshadowed by the quality of the writing and the characters we are presented with, making this book the perfect read to pass a quiet day or two if you are a fan of romance novels.

Danielle Steel (Author)

Danielle Steel

Personal site

Danielle Steel is a very well-known American novelist who, at the moment, is the bestselling author alive, and the fourth bestselling author in history, with more than 800 million copies of her books sold, and more counting.

In the habit of producing several books a year, many of her projects became popular bestsellers, such as Kaleidoscope, Wanderlust and Five Days in Paris.

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