Family Ties

Family Ties

3.5 370
by Danielle Steel

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From Manhattan to Paris and all the way to Tehran, Danielle Steel weaves a powerfully compelling story that reminds us how challenging and unpredictable life can be—and how the bonds of family hold us together.

Annie Ferguson was a bright young Manhattan architect with a limitless future—until…  See more details below


From Manhattan to Paris and all the way to Tehran, Danielle Steel weaves a powerfully compelling story that reminds us how challenging and unpredictable life can be—and how the bonds of family hold us together.

Annie Ferguson was a bright young Manhattan architect with a limitless future—until a single phone call changed the course of her life forever. Overnight, she became the mother to her sister’s three orphaned children, keeping a promise she never regretted making, even if it meant putting her own life indefinitely on hold.

Now, at forty-two, still happily single with a satisfying career and a family that means everything to her, Annie is suddenly facing an empty nest. With her nephew and nieces now grown and confronting challenges of their own, she must navigate a parent’s difficult passage between helping and letting go. The eldest, twenty-eight-year-old Liz, an overworked editor in a high-powered job at Vogue, has never allowed any man to come close enough to hurt her. Ted, at twenty-four a serious law student, is captivated by a much older woman with children, who is leading him much further than he wants to go. And the impulsive youngest, twenty-one-year old Katie, is an art student about to make a choice that will lead her to a world she is in no way prepared for but determined to embrace.

Then, when least expected, a chance encounter changes Annie’s life again in the most surprising direction of all. . . .

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Steel is one of the best!”
Los Angeles Times

From the Hardcover edition.

Time and time again Danielle Steel has produced some of the most down to earth fiction out there and her latest, Family Ties is no exception. Bottom line: this novel is one of her best. Meet Annie Ferguson, am architect who becomes the guardian to her sister's three children after her sister is killed. We are then brilliantly given a flash-forward look at their lives over the next decade. Would you take a family member's or a best friend's children after a horrific accident claimed their lives? Would you sacrifice your dreams and career to raise kids you never expected to have?? How much do you truly love the people you say you love most in the world? Danielle Steel gives us one woman's answer and her unexpected journey of what it means to be a mother and the ties that bind families together: in good and in bad. ?Donald Kendall, ASM, #2923, Troy MI
Publishers Weekly
Steele’s sprawling narrative concerns the efforts of 42-year old architect Annie Ferguson to juggle her career and budding romantic life with worry over the travails of her now grown nephew and nieces, whom she raised following the untimely death of her sister. For better or worse, the story line includes a wide array of soap opera elements, ranging from fashion photography in France to volatile issues of religious and family identity in Iran. Susan Ericksen demonstrates competence and attention to detail in bringing the dialogue to life. Yet in conjunction with the material, the listening experience--engaging as it may be at points--is overloaded with Hollywood caricatures, particularly in the cross-cultural experiences between the West and the Middle East. A Delacorte hardcover (Reviews, May 17). (July)
Kirkus Reviews
An aunt steps up to mother her orphaned nieces and nephew, in Steel's predictable latest (A Good Woman, 2008, etc.). Annie, 26, is on the verge of embarking on an exciting career, and marrying well, when her sister Jane and her husband are killed in a plane crash. With some trepidation, Annie becomes guardian of Jane's three young children, Liz, Ted and Katie. Annie's fiance, not up to the challenge of a ready-made family, bows out. Cut to 16 years later. Annie has never married-she hasn't had time, thanks to her thriving architecture firm, which caters to New York City's wealthiest, and the challenges of raising her nieces and nephew. Her efforts have borne fruit: Ted is now in law school, Katie attends Pratt and Liz is a globetrotting jewelry editor for Vogue. After Ted's Contracts professor, Pattie, a divorcee 12 years his senior, seduces him, he's sexually in her thrall but knows it's not love. An ankle sprained at a job site sends Annie to the ER, where (during the interminable wait) she meets high-profile TV-news anchor Tom. After years of bland blind dates, Tom is a refreshing change. The plot duly thickens: Katie drops out of design school to work in a tattoo parlor, and she's besotted with her new boyfriend Paul, an Iranian/American dual national. Liz's scruffy French lover Jean-Louis seems to be too friendly with his ex-mistress Francoise, who's the mother of his child. Pattie stabs Ted's hand with a steak knife when he tries to leave. Paul and Katie take an ill-advised trip to Tehran, and his relatives confiscate their U.S. passports. Just when Tom and Annie are realizing (after an idyllic stay at a private villa in Turks and Caicos) there is room for each other in their fast-paced lives, it appears that her charges may now need her more than ever. A listless narrative not helped by Steel's plodding prose, but her legion of fans aren't in it for the surprise.

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Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
4.02(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.01(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Seth Adams left Annie Ferguson's West Village apartment on a sunny September Sunday afternoon. He was handsome, funny, intelligent, fun to be with, and they had been dating for two months. They had met at a Fourth of July picnic in the Hamptons, and he was as excited about his career as Annie was about her own. He had graduated from Harvard Business School two years before and was enjoying a meteoric rise at a Wall Street investment bank. Annie had graduated from Columbia Architecture School six months before, and she was reveling in the excitement of her first job with an important architecture group. It was her dream come true. And the handsome pair had spotted each other across a crowded room, and it was infatuation at first sight. It had been a great summer so far, and they were already talking about renting a ski house together with some of their friends. They were falling in love and looking forward to good times ahead.

Annie was having the time of her life: weekends with Seth, passionate lovemaking, happy times on the pretty little sailboat that he had just bought. She had it all, new man, new home, first big step in the career she had worked so hard for. She was on top of the world, twenty-six years old, tall, blond, beautiful. She had a smile that could have melted the world, and a lot to smile about. Her life these days was everything she had dreamed of.

She had to force Seth to leave that afternoon after another perfect weekend on his boat, but she had work to do. She wanted to spend some time on her first big project for a client meeting the following day. She knew she had to blow their socks off, and the plans she had been working on were meticulously done, and her immediate supervisor had shown a lot of respect for her ideas and was giving her a chance to shine. Annie was just sitting down at her drafting table when her cell phone rang. Although he had only left the apartment five minutes before, she thought it might be Seth. He called her sometimes on his way home, to tell her how much he already missed her.

She smiled, thinking of him, and then saw from the caller ID that it was Jane, her older sister by ten years. The two sisters were crazy about each other, and Jane had been like a mother to her since their parents had passed away when Annie was eighteen. Jane was happily married, lived in Greenwich, Connecticut, and had three adorable children. The two sisters looked almost like twins. Jane was a slightly older version of Annie, and she was looking forward to meeting Seth. He sounded like a keeper to her. All she hoped for Annie was that she would find someone as wonderful as her own husband Bill and be as happily married one day. Jane and Bill Marshall had been married for fourteen years and still acted like they were on their honeymoon. They were role models Annie hoped to emulate one day, but for now she was focused on her brand-new career, in spite of the delightful distraction provided by Seth for the past two months. Annie wanted to be a great architect one day.

"Is he there?" Jane asked conspiratorially, and her younger sister laughed. Jane was a freelance illustrator of children's books and a proficient artist, but she had always been more interested in her husband and children than in her career. Bill was the publisher of a small but respected publishing house. They had spent the weekend in Martha's Vineyard, closing up their summer house, and enjoying a romantic weekend away from their three kids.

"He just left," Annie answered.

"Why so early?" Jane sounded disappointed for her.

"I have to work. I have a big presentation tomorrow, to an important client, and I wanted to work on the plans."

"Good girl." Jane was infinitely proud of her little sister. She was a star in her eyes. "We'll be home in a couple of hours. We're just leaving now. Bill is pre-flighting the plane. It was gorgeous here this weekend. I hate to close the house." They loved the Vineyard, and so did their kids. They'd bought the house when their oldest, Lizzie, was born. She was twelve now, and the portrait of her mother. Ted was eight and looked just like Bill, with the same sweet nature and easygoing style. And Jane liked to say that her youngest, Katie, came from another planet. At five, she had opinions about everything, was incredibly bright, and was fearless. She was an old soul in a child's body, and she always said that she and her aunt Annie were best friends. "How's the weather in New York?" Jane asked her conversationally. It was hurricane season, but the weather at the Vineyard had been good.

"It's been hot and sunny all weekend, but they say there's a storm coming in tonight. It doesn't look like it to me," Annie answered.

"They're expecting a storm here too-the wind picked up an hour ago, but it looks okay so far. Bill wants to get home before it starts." He was waving to her from the plane then, and Jane grabbed her styrofoam cup of coffee and walked toward him, as she wound up the conversation with Annie. "I'll call you when I get home. Don't work too hard. . . . I love you. Why don't you bring Seth out to dinner next weekend?"

"I'll try. I may have to work, depending on how the meeting goes tomorrow. I love you too. Call me later," Annie said comfortably as they hung up and she went back to work. She spread out the plans and studied them carefully. She could see a few adjustments she wanted to make, just subtle ones, but she was a perfectionist and wanted everything to be flawless the next day. She began slowly and meticulously making the changes she had thought about all weekend.

Jane got into the plane that was her husband's pride and joy. He had been a navy pilot, and in love with planes all his life. This was the biggest one he'd had. It was a Cessna 414 Chancellor that seated eight. It was perfect for them, their three children, and their babysitter Magdalena when she came to the Vineyard with them, which left room for two friends, or the mountain of shopping bags and suitcases that Jane always dragged back and forth between Greenwich and the Vineyard. The plane was a luxury, but it meant more to Bill than their house and was his most beloved possession. Jane always felt totally safe when Bill was flying, more so than on any commercial flight. He kept his license current and was instrument rated.

"Get your ass in here," he said jokingly, as she pushed one more shopping bag into the plane. "There's a storm coming, and I want to get us home before it hits." The sky was darkening as he said it, and Jane's long blond hair was flying in the wind. She hopped in, and he leaned over and kissed her, and then concentrated on the dials in front of him. He had clearance to leave, and they had instruments if the weather got socked in. Bill put the headphones on and talked to the tower as Jane pulled a magazine out of her bag. She loved trashy gossip magazines and reading about famous actresses and their romances and breakups, and discussing them with Annie as though the celebrities were their friends. Bill loved to tease them about it.

He carefully watched the sky as they took off in a stiff wind, and he rose quickly to the altitude he'd been assigned by the tower. They would be landing at Westchester County Airport in roughly an hour. It was an easy flight, and he had to pay attention to the traffic around Boston. He chatted amiably with the tower several times and smiled at Jane. They'd had a nice weekend. As much as he loved them, it was nice to get away from the kids and have her to himself.

"Annie sounds serious about her new guy," Jane reported as he laughed.

"You're not going to be happy until you marry her off." He knew his wife well, and they both knew he was right. "She's still a kid, and she just started her first job."

"I was twenty-two when I married you," she reminded him. "Annie is twenty-six."

"You weren't as serious about your career as she is. Give her a chance. She's not exactly an old maid." There was no way she would ever be. She was young and beautiful, and men were always pursuing her. But Bill was right-Annie wanted to get her career as an architect squared away before she settled down, which sounded sensible to him. And she loved being an aunt, but wasn't ready to have kids.

Jane noticed that Bill was looking distracted then, and concentrating on the darkening sky. The air got choppy, and Jane could see that they were heading toward a storm. She didn't say anything to Bill, she didn't like to bother him when he was flying, so she looked out the window and then opened her magazine and took a sip of her coffee. A moment later, it splashed in her lap as the plane started to bounce.

"What was that?"

"There's a storm coming up," he said, with his eyes on the dials, and he let the controller know they were hitting a lot of chop, and got clearance to drop to a lower altitude. Jane could see a big airliner flying above them on their left, probably coming in from Europe, heading to Logan or JFK.

Their plane continued to bounce even at the lower altitude, and within minutes it grew worse, and Jane saw a bolt of lightning in the sky.

"Should we land?"

"No, we're fine," he smiled reassuringly, as it started to rain. They were over the Connecticut coast by then, and Bill turned to say something to her just when an explosion hit their left engine like a bomb, and the plane tipped crazily, as Bill concentrated on the controls.

"Shit, what was that?" Jane said hoarsely. Nothing like that had ever happened before, and Bill's face was tense.

"I don't know. It could be a fuel leak. I'm not sure," he said tersely, as his jaw clenched. He was fighting to control the plane as they lost altitude rapidly, and with that the engine caught fire, and he guided the plane down looking for a clearing to land. Jane said not a word. She just watched as Bill fought to level them out again, but he couldn't. They were listing badly and heading down at a frightening speed as he called in to the controller and told him where he was. "We're going down, our left wing is on fire," he said calmly, and Jane reached out and touched his arm. He never took his hand off the controls, and he told her he loved her. They were his last words as the Cessna hit the ground and exploded in a ball of fire.

Annie's cell phone rang again just as she was erasing a change she had spent an hour making on the plans. She didn't like it and was delicately changing it back. She was concentrating intensely, and then glanced at her phone lying on the drafting table. It was Jane, they had obviously gotten home. She almost didn't answer it, she didn't want to break her concentration, and Jane always wanted to chat.

Annie tried to ignore it, but the ringing was annoying and persistent, and finally she picked it up.

"Can I call you back?" she said as she answered, and was met by a flood of Spanish. Annie recognized the voice. It was Magdalena, the Salvadoran woman who took care of Jane and Bill's kids. She sounded frantic. Annie knew these calls well. Magdalena had her number for when Bill and Jane were away. She usually only called Annie when one of the kids got hurt, but Annie knew that her sister would be home within minutes, if she wasn't already there. She couldn't understand a word Magdalena said in rapid Spanish.

"They're on their way home," Annie reassured her. Usually it was Ted who had fallen out of a tree or off a ladder or bumped his head. He was an active boy and accident prone. The girls were a lot more sedate. Lizzie was almost a teenager, and Katie was a fireball, but she was more verbal than athletic and had never gotten hurt. "I talked to Jane two hours ago," Annie said calmly. "They should be home any minute."

With that, Magdalena exploded in another torrent of Spanish. She sounded as though she was crying, and the only word Annie understood was la policia. The police.

"What about the police? Are the kids okay?" Maybe one of them really had gotten seriously injured. So far it had only been small stuff, except for Ted's broken leg when he fell out of a tree at the Vineyard and his parents were there. "Tell me in English," Annie insisted. "What happened? Who got hurt?"

"Your sister?. . . the police call?. . . the plane?. . ." Annie felt as though she had been shot out of a cannon and was spinning in midair. Everything was in slow motion, and she could feel herself reeling at the words.

"What did they say?" Annie managed to grind out the words through the shards of glass in her thoat. Every word she formed was a physical pain. "What happened? What did the police SAY?" She was shouting at Magdalena and didn't know it. And all Magdalena could do was sob. "TELL ME, DAMMIT!" Annie shouted at her, as Magdalena tried to tell her in English.

"I don't know?. . . something happen?. . . I call her cell phone and she not answer?. . . they say?. . . they say?. . . the plane catch fire. It was the police in New London."

"I'll call you back," Annie said, and hung up on her. She finally got a police emergency number in New London, that referred her to another number. A voice asked her who she was, and after she told them, there was an interminable silence on the other end of the phone.

"Are you nearby?" the voice wanted to know.

"No, I'm not nearby," Annie said, torn between a sob and an urge to shout at this unknown woman. Something terrible had happened. She was praying they were only hurt. "I'm in New York," she explained. "What happened to the plane?" She gave them the call numbers of Bill's plane, and a different voice came on the phone. He said he was a captain, and he told her what she didn't want to know and never wanted to hear. He said the plane had exploded on impact and there were no survivors. He asked her if she knew who was on the plane.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Family Ties 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 371 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have not read a DS book in a long time but I think it is time for her to retire...all her books are too similar and on the boring, repetitive side. I decided to read this book because the story line sounded interesting but she kept repeating everything over and over again....seriously, how many times do we need to re-read the same thing?? Very slow, very boring, very big waste of my time, got about 100 pages into the book and I had to dump it, it was just going no where with the characters or the story line.
mousetater More than 1 year ago
I have been a fan of Danielle Steel for quite a while, but I found this book to be repetitive and predictable. The synopsis was more interesting than the book itself. Although there were some story lines that could have been intriguing, they weren't developed to their potential. Not one of this author's best works.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book I coudn't put it down.
NPreader More than 1 year ago
Danielle Steel has a good book going here, very heart felt with Annie taking over and raising her neices and nephew. I found the story line interesting but it showed a lot of redundency throughout the book. I would read a paragraph and the same content was brought about again a paragraph or two later!! Is Danielle Steel just trying to increase her number of words put into the book? I think all her books are becoming basically the same story-line. Woman meets man, falls in love and all ends happily. The plot is just different. I need some new direction from her to keep reading.
ffsg More than 1 year ago
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harstan More than 1 year ago
Twenty-six year old architect Annie Ferguson looks forward to starting on her new job and living in Manhattan with her boyfriend Seth. As she is euphoric and confident about the changes in her life, she thought nothing about her vow to be the guardian of her two nieces and nephew she made to her sister Jane. That is until Jane and her husband Bill die in a plane crash, so Annie raises the three preadolescent children (Liz, Ted and Katie). Seth cannot deal with the change so ends their relationship. Sixteen years later, Annie raised her wards with love while running a successful architectural firm. Ted attends law school, Katie is studying design at college; and Liz is a globetrotting Vogue editor. When Annie sprains her ankle, she goes to the emergency room where she meets TV news anchor Tom. Katie drops out of Pratt to work at a tattoo parlor while traveling to Teheran with her Iranian-American boyfriend Paul. Liz's French lover Jean-Louis seems back with his former lover Francoise, the mother of his child. Ted has a tryst with his older law professor, but when he tries to end their sexual relationship, Pattie stabs him in the hand. This intriguing family drama is an enjoyable contemporary as the aunt of the three orphaned children proves she is A Good Woman when she takes over raising them with the deaths of their parents. The tale contains way too much angst keeping the four subplots from gelling into a cohesive story line, but instead competes for the lead. Still fans will enjoy Danielle Steel's latest as the strong cast makes the case that family is the ultimate proof of chaos theory. Harriet Klausner
Luv_to_readSF More than 1 year ago
I was hopping on a flight with nothing to read and ran across this novel. I generally check out reviews before getting books and wished I would have before I got this one. It's one of the worst I've ever attempted to read. It was so bad, I couldn't even finish it and I'm hoping I can get my money back. As was mentioned in previous reviews, there was a lot of repetitiveness to it and it seems as though it was written by a junior high student - at best. Most of the other reviews cover the poor quality of writing. Adding one more, 1-star review has to help bring down the overall rating. Don't know how anyone could give it a rating any higher.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not my favorite. Had to force myself to finish it. It was okay at best.
Jennifer Bever More than 1 year ago
Some junior high journalism student is apparently now writing under Danielle Stelle's name. Incredibly redundant, not sure this even went through editing?! Skip this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been reading DS since I was in my 20's. I''m now 48 yrs old and I hate to say it, but she should retire. I used to read every one of her books the moment that they came out, but she is extremely repetitive and I can no longer get through one of her books. I feel like I'm reading the same sentence over and over. She words the idea differently once in a while, but it's saying the same thing! Sorry, but that's just my opinion. Don't rush to buy this, especially at this price.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Danielle Steel just doesn't have it anymore. All her new books are so repetative and boring. I could barely make myself finsih this new disaster of a book. All the characters were so one-dimensional, you couldn't and didn't want to relate to any of them. I knew how all their storylines were going to end before they did! I think the worst one was Ted. When he finally found the way to end his crisis, I wanted to yell, "why didn't you do that in the first place, dummy?!" I have just bought a replacement copy of my favorite Steel book, "The Ring." I would recommend to all new readers of Danielle Steel to stick to her old historical novels, such as, "The Ring, "Rememberance", "Crossings", and "Thurston House". Also, if you really want to try one of hrr new books, check out a copy at the local library or buy it used. Unfortuneately, Ms. Steel seems to be only in it for the money now, as she is putting out 2 to 3 books a year that are repetative, boring, and actually insulting to the intelligence of the reader.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was very intrigued with the summary on the inside cover but just do yourself a favor and skip this book - heck, skip this author. She doesn't delve into the characters very well, just writes about what they're doing and when, so it gets very boring. Half-way through the book and the main character is still the same. Blah! Danielle Steel should just enjoy her millions and let other people write books.
CRAZEGIRL More than 1 year ago
fgfyhh More than 1 year ago
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Jhoffmeister More than 1 year ago
I guess after writing so many books, even good authors run out of ideas. The plot was so predictable and there was such much redundancy(ie what a great mother figure Anne was and how great a job she did raising the kids). There were so many sections I skimmed through just to get to the end. Not a fan of this author anymore...the books are all the same!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is only the second DS book that I've read.....and I won't be buying anymore. It read like a bad made for TV movie. The writing itself should have been much better, considering how many books this person has written. Added to that is the fact she kept repeating basic thoughts and actions of the characters to the point that I began wondering if she was prompting her readers (if so, she must think they are all idiots) or herself. Time to retire, DS.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm almosy through reading the bok Family Ties and it's a great book. Danielle Steel never fails to write a good book.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago