A Good Woman

( 102 )

Overview

From the glittering ballrooms of Manhattan to the fires of World War I, Danielle Steel takes us on an unforgettable journey in her new novel—a spellbinding tale of war, loss, history, and one woman’s unbreakable spirit....

Nineteen-year-old Annabelle Worthington was born into a life of privilege, raised amid the glamour of New York society, with glorious homes on Fifth Avenue and in Newport, Rhode Island. But everything changed on a cold April day in 1912, when the sinking of ...

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Overview

From the glittering ballrooms of Manhattan to the fires of World War I, Danielle Steel takes us on an unforgettable journey in her new novel—a spellbinding tale of war, loss, history, and one woman’s unbreakable spirit....

Nineteen-year-old Annabelle Worthington was born into a life of privilege, raised amid the glamour of New York society, with glorious homes on Fifth Avenue and in Newport, Rhode Island. But everything changed on a cold April day in 1912, when the sinking of the Titanic shattered her family and her privileged world forever. Finding strength within her grief, Annabelle pours herself into volunteer work, nursing the poor, igniting a passion for medicine that would shape the course of her life.

But for Annabelle, first love, and a seemingly idyllic marriage, will soon bring more grief—this time caused by the secrets of the human heart. Betrayed, and pursued by a scandal she does not deserve, Annabelle flees New York for war-ravaged France, hoping to lose herself in a life of service. There, in the heart of the First World War, in a groundbreaking field hospital run by women, Annabelle finds her true calling, working as an ambulance medic on the front lines, studying medicine, saving lives. And when the war ends, Annabelle begins a new life in Paris—now a doctor, a mother, her past almost forgotten…until a fateful meeting opens her heart to the world she had left behind. Finding strength in the most unlikely of friendships, pulling together the broken fragments of her life, Annabelle will return to New York one more time—this time as a changed woman, a woman of substance, infused with life’s experience, building a future filled with hope…out of the rich soil of the past.

Filled with breathtaking images and historical detail, Danielle Steel’s new novel introduces one of her most unique and fascinating characters: Annabelle Worthington, a remarkable woman, a good woman, a true survivor who triumphs against overwhelming odds. For Annabelle’s story is more than compelling fiction, it is a powerful celebration of life, dignity, and courage—and a testament to the human will to survive.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Nineteen-year-old Annabelle Worthington, the only daughter of a wealthy New York banker, weathers a life of unexpected catastrophe with superhuman patience in Steel's solid latest. After her father and brother die in the sinking of the Titanic, Annabelle and her mother go into mourning, and Annabelle marries the kindly older banker Josiah Millbank. After two years of unconsummated marriage, he reveals that he's contracted syphilis and wants a divorce so he can join his male lover. When Annabelle refuses to divorce him, Josiah files for it on the basis of adultery, forcing Annabelle, now the victim of vicious rumors, to flee New York. Alone in Paris, she draws on her experience volunteering at Ellis Island to pursue a career as a doctor as WWI looms. Steel toys with the premise of a modern woman, though the characterization of Annabelle as a "good woman" who has been dragged through the mud somewhat mitigates her strength and elemental stubbornness. Steel's fans will eat this up-Annabelle is one of the better protagonists Steel's conjured recently. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews

Manhattan heiress, wrongfully shunned as an adulteress, becomes a medic in the Great War, then a Paris physician, confounding all her detractors, in this cliché-riddled, exposition-bound umpteenth from Steel (Rogue, 2008, etc.).

Annabelle Worthington, born to a prominent banking family, enjoys an idyllic childhood, until the fateful night when her father and brother go down with the Titanic. Annabelle's mother, Consuelo, worries that the yearlong mourning period might scuttle 19-year-old Annabelle's marriage chances. So Consuelo and confirmed bachelor Josiah, age 38, agree that he will marry Annabelle. After a lavish wedding at the Worthington's Newport estate, Annabelle, who's fond of Josiah, doesn't question his wedding night reluctance to consummate their marriage. But when abstinence drags on for two years, amid Consuelo's anxious queries about grandchildren, Josiah admits that he's homosexual. When the divorce, citing trumped-up charges of adultery, hits the tabloids, her New York friends, including the miserably married Hortie, ostracize Annabelle. Her mother has died, and now Annabelle, sole heir to her family fortune, can pursue her lifelong interest in medicine. She heads for France to aid the war effort in a field hospital, and after beginning medical school in Nice as the only female student, serves as a medic and ambulance driver. Raped by a drunken British officer, viscount Winshire, she's horrified to find herself pregnant. The viscount is killed, and Annabelle gives birth to a beautiful daughter, whom she names Consuelo. At war's end, Annabelle opens a practice in Paris. Smitten, handsome surgeon Antoine welcomes her and Consuelo II to his family, then viciouslyturns on Annabelle when she reveals her past. But Lady Winshire, the rapist's mother, is enthralled with her grandchild, whom she legitimizes. She urges Annabelle to ignore the scandalmongers. Now fortified by two family fortunes, mother and daughter head back to New York to reclaim their place in society.

After a slow-moving start, the action accelerates during the war sections, but Steel's tin ear and simplistic prose, even more than the predictable plot, make for a leaden tale.

From the Publisher
“Once again, the legendary Steel has combined has combined triumph and tragedy to create the story of a woman who, though tossed by the whims of fate, still manages to survive on her own terms.”—Booklist

“Annabelle is one of the better protagonists…. Steel’s fans will eat this up.”—Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780440243304
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/25/2009
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 104,284
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.98 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Danielle Steel has been hailed as one of the world’s most popular authors, with over 600 million copies of her novels sold. Her many international bestsellers include The Sins of the Mother, Friends Forever, Betrayal, Hotel Vendôme, Happy Birthday, 44 Charles Street, and other highly acclaimed novels. She is also the author of His Bright Light, the story of her son Nick Traina’s life and death, and the memoir of her work with the homeless, A Gift of Hope.

Biography

When it comes to commanding bestseller lists, no writer can come close to Danielle Steel. Her work has been published in 47 countries, in 28 languages. She has been listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the author who has spent the most consecutive weeks on The New York Times bestseller list. She has not only published novels, but has written non-fiction, a book of poetry, and two series of children's books. Many of her books have been adapted for television movies, one of which (Jewels) was nominated for two Golden Globe awards. She has received the title of Chevalier of the distinguished Order of Arts and Letters by the French Government for her immense body of work. In short, to say that Steel is the single most popular living writer in the world is no overstatement.

Steel published her first novel, Going Home, when she was a mere 26 years old, and the book introduced readers to many of the themes that would dominate her novels for the next 30-odd years. It is an exploration of human relationships told dramatically, a story of the past's thrall on the present. Anyone familiar with Steel's work will recognize these themes as being close to her heart, as are familial issues, which are at the root of her many mega-sellers.

Although Steel has a reputation among critics as being a writer of fluffy, escapist fare, she never shies away from taking on dark subject matter, having addressed illnesses, incest, suicide, divorce, death, the Holocaust, and war in her work. Of course, even when she is handling unsavory topics, she does so entertainingly and with refinement. Her stories may often cross over into the realm of melodrama, but she never fails to spin a compelling yarn told with a skilled ear for dialogue and character, while consistently showing how one can overcome the greatest of tragedies. Ever prolific, she usually produces several books per year, often juggling multiple projects at the same time.

With all of the time and effort Steel puts into her work (she claims to sometimes spend as much as 20 hours a day at her keyboard), it is amazing that she still has time for a personal life. However, as one might assume from her work, family is still incredibly important to her, and she maintains a fairly private personal life. Fortunately for her millions of fans, she continues to devote more than a small piece of that life to them.

Good To Know

Along with her famed adult novels, Steel has also written two series of books for kids with the purpose of helping them through difficult situations, such as dealing with a new stepfather and coping with the death of a grandparent.

When Steel isn't working on her latest bestseller or spending time with her beloved family, she is devoting her time to one of several philanthropic projects to benefit the mentally ill, the homeless, and abused children.

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    1. Hometown:
      San Francisco, California
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 14, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      Educated in France. Also attended Parsons School of Design, 1963, and New York University, 1963-67
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

On the morning of April 14, 1912, Annabelle Worthington was reading quietly in the library of her parents’ house, overlooking the large, walled-in garden. The first signs of spring had begun to appear, the gardeners had planted flowers, and everything looked beautiful for her parents’ return in the next few days. The home she shared with them and her older brother Robert was a large, imposing mansion, at the northern reaches of Fifth Avenue in New York. The Worthingtons, and her mother's family, the Sinclairs, were directly related to the Vanderbilts and the Astors, and somewhat more indirectly to all the most important New York families. Her father, Arthur, owned and ran the city’s most prestigious bank. His family had been in banking for generations, just as her mother’s family had been in Boston. Her brother Robert, at twenty-four, had worked for her father for the past three years. And of course, when Arthur retired one day, Robert would run the bank. Their future, like their history, was predictable, assured, and safe. It was comforting for Annabelle to grow up in the protection of their world.

Her parents loved each other, and she and Robert had always been close and gotten along. Nothing had ever happened to upset or disturb them. The minor problems they encountered were always instantly buffered and solved. Annabelle had grown up in a sacred, golden world, a happy child, among kind, loving people. The past few months had been exciting for her, although tempered by a recent disappointment. In December, just before Christmas, she had been presented to society at a spectacular ball her parents had given for her. It was her debut, and everyone insisted it was the most elegant and extravagant debutante ball New York had seen in years. Her mother loved giving beautiful parties. The garden had been covered over and heated. The ballroom in their home was exquisite. The band had been the most coveted in the city. Four hundred people had attended, and the gown Annabelle had worn made her look like a fairy princess.

Annabelle was tiny, elfin, delicate, even smaller than her mother. She was a petite blonde, with long, silky golden hair, and huge blue eyes. She was beautiful, with small hands and feet, and perfect features. Throughout her childhood her father always said she looked like a porcelain doll. At eighteen, she had a lovely, well-proportioned slim figure, and a gentle grace. Everything about her suggested the aristocracy that was her heritage and that she and all her ancestors and relations had been born into.

The family had shared a lovely Christmas in the days following the ball, and after all the excitement, parties, and nights out with her brother and parents, in flimsy evening gowns in the winter weather, in the first week of January, Annabelle had fallen ill with a severe case of influenza. Her parents had been worried about her when it turned rapidly to bronchitis, and then nearly to pneumonia. Fortunately, her youth and general good health helped her to recover. But she had been sick and had run fevers in the evenings for nearly a month. Their doctor had decided finally that it would be unwise for her to travel in her weakened condition. Her parents and Robert had planned a trip for months, to visit friends in Europe, and Annabelle was still convalescing when they left on the Mauretania in mid-February. She had traveled on the same ship with them many times before, and her mother offered to stay home with her this time, but by the time they left, Annabelle was well enough for them to leave her alone. She had insisted that her mother not deprive herself of the trip she’d been looking forward to for so long. They were all sorry to leave her, and Annabelle was severely disappointed, but even she admitted that although she felt much better by the time they left, she still didn’t feel quite up to a long journey abroad for two months. She assured her mother, Consuelo, that she would take care of the house while they were away. They trusted her completely.

Annabelle was not the sort of girl one had to worry about, or who would take advantage of their absence. They were just very sorry that she couldn’t come with them, as Annabelle was herself. She was a good sport when she saw them off at the Cunard dock in February, but she returned home feeling a little dejected. She kept herself busy reading and taking on projects in the house that would please her mother. She did lovely needlework, and spent hours mending their finest bed and table linens. She didn’t feel well enough to go out socially, but her closest friend Hortense visited her often. Hortense had also made her debut that year, and the two girls had been best friends since they were children. Hortie already had a beau, and Annabelle had made a bet with her that James would propose to her by Easter. She’d been right, as it turned out, and they had just announced their engagement the week before. Annabelle couldn’t wait to tell her mother, who would be home soon. They were due back on the seventeenth of April, having set sail four days before from Southampton on a new ship.

It had been a long two months without them and Annabelle had missed them. But it had given her an opportunity to regain her health, and do a great deal of reading. After she finished her chores around the house, she spent every afternoon and evening in her father’s library, poring over his books. Her favorites were the ones about important men, or science. She had never had much interest in the romantic books read by her mother, and even less so in the ones loaned to her by Hortense, which she thought were drivel. Annabelle was an intelligent young woman, who soaked up world events and information like a sponge. It gave her lots to talk about with her brother, and even he admitted privately that the depth of her knowledge often put him to shame. Although he had a good head for business, and was extremely responsible, he loved going to parties and seeing friends, whereas Annabelle appeared gregarious on the surface, but had a deep serious nature and a passion for learning, science, and books. Her favorite room in the house was their father’s library, where she spent a great deal of her time.

On the night of the fourteenth, Annabelle read late into the night in her bed, and slept unusually late the next morning. She brushed her teeth and combed her hair when she got up, put on a dressing gown, and made her way slowly down to breakfast. She thought the house was strangely silent as she walked downstairs, and she saw none of the servants. Venturing into the pantry, she found several of them huddled over the newspaper, which they folded quickly. She saw in an instant that their faithful housekeeper Blanche had been crying. She had a soft heart, and any sad story about an animal or a child in distress easily reduced her to tears. Annabelle was expecting one of those stories as she smiled and said good morning, and with that, William the butler began crying and walked out of the room.

“Good lord, what happened?” Annabelle looked at Blanche and the two undermaids in amazement. She saw then that all of them were crying, and without knowing why, her heart skipped a beat. “What’s going on here?” Annabelle asked, instinctively reaching for the newspaper. Blanche hesitated for a long instant and then handed it to her. Annabelle saw the banner headlines as she unfolded it. The Titanic had sunk during the night. It was the brand-new ship her parents and Robert had taken home from England. Her eyes flew open wide as she quickly read the details. There were very few, only that the Titanic had gone down, passengers had been put in the lifeboats, and the White Star Line’s Carpathia had hastened to the scene. It said nothing of fatalities or survivors, but only that one could assume with a ship that size and that new that the passengers had been taken off in time, and the rescue would have been complete. The newspaper reported that the enormous ship had hit an iceberg, and although thought to be unsinkable, it had in fact gone down several hours later. The unimaginable had happened.

Annabelle flew into action immediately, and told Blanche to have the car and her father’s driver brought around. She was halfway out the pantry door to run upstairs and get dressed, as she said that she had to go to the White Star office immediately, for news of Robert and her parents. It didn't even occur to her that hundreds of others would do the same.

Her hands were trembling as she dressed haphazardly in a simple gray wool dress, put on her stockings and shoes, grabbed her coat and handbag, and ran back down the stairs again, without even bothering to pin up her hair. She looked like a child with her hair flying, as she dashed out the front door and it slammed behind her. The house and everyone in it already seemed frozen in a state of anticipated mourning. As Thomas, her father’s driver, took her to the White Star Line’s offices at the foot of Broadway, Annabelle was battling a wave of silent terror. She saw a newsboy on a street corner, calling out the latest news. He was waving a more recent edition of the paper, and she made the driver stop and buy one.

The paper said that an unknown number of lives had been lost, and that reports were being radioed from the Carpathia about survivors. Annabelle could feel her eyes fill with tears as she read. How could this have happened? It was the largest, newest ship on the seas. This was her maiden voyage. How could a ship like the Titanic go down? And what had happened to her parents, her brother, and so many others?

When they reached the White Star offices, there were hundreds of people clamoring to get in, and Annabelle couldn’t imagine how she could push her way through the throng. Her father’s burly chauffeur helped her, but it still took her an hour to get inside. She explained that her brother and parents were first-class passengers on the ill-fated ship. A frantic young clerk took her name, as others went to post lists of survivors on the walls outside. The names were being radioed by the radio operator of the Carpathia, assisted by the surviving radio man from the Titanic, and they had boldly written at the top of the list that at present it was still incomplete, which gave many hope for the names they did not see.

Annabelle held one of the lists in her trembling hands, and could hardly read it through her tears, and then near the bottom she saw it, a single name. Consuelo Worthington, first-class passenger. Her father and brother were nowhere on the list, and to steady her nerves, she reminded herself it was incomplete. There were startlingly few names on the list.

“When will you know about the others?” Annabelle asked the clerk as she handed it back to him.

“In a few hours, we hope,” he said as others shouted and called out behind her. People were sobbing, crying, arguing, as more outside fought to come in. The scene was one of panic and chaos, terror and despair.

“Are they still rescuing people from the lifeboats?” Annabelle asked, forcing herself to be hopeful. At least she knew her mother was alive, although who knew in what condition. But surely, the others had survived too.

“They picked the last ones up at eight-thirty this morning,” the clerk said with somber eyes. He had already heard tales of bodies floating in the water, people screaming to be rescued before they died, but it wasn’t up to him to tell the story, and he didn’t have the courage to tell these people that lives had been lost by the hundreds, and maybe more. The list of survivors so far was just over six hundred, and the Carpathia had radioed that they had picked up over seven hundred, but they didn’t have all the names yet. If that was all, it meant over a thousand passengers and crew members had been lost. The clerk didn’t want to believe it either. “We should have the rest of the names in the next few hours,” he said sympathetically, as a man with a red face threatened to hit him if he didn’t hand over the list, which he did immediately. People were frantic, frightened, and spiraling out of control in their desperation for information and reassurance. The clerks were handing out and posting as many lists as they could. And finally, Annabelle and her father’s driver, Thomas, went back to the car, to wait for more news. He offered to take her home, but she insisted she wanted to stay, and check the lists as they updated them over the next few hours. There was nowhere else she wanted to be.

She sat in the car in silence, some of the time with her eyes closed, thinking about her parents and her brother, willing them to have survived, while being grateful for her mother’s name on the list so far. She didn’t eat or drink all day, and every hour they went back to check. At five o’clock, they were told that the lists of survivors were complete, with the exception of a few young children who could not yet be identified by name. But everyone else that had been picked up by the Carpathia was on the list.

“Has anyone been picked up by other ships?” someone asked. The clerk silently shook his head. Although there were other ships recovering bodies from the freezing waters, the crew of the Carpathia were the only ones who had been able to rescue survivors, mostly in lifeboats, and a very few from the water. Almost all of those in the icy Atlantic had died before the Carpathia arrived, although the rescuers had been on the scene within two hours after the Titanic went down. It was just too long for anyone to survive the frigid temperature of the ocean.

Annabelle checked the list one more time. There were 706 survivors. She saw her mother’s name again, but there were no other Worthingtons on the list, neither Arthur nor Robert, and all she could do was pray that it was a mistake. Maybe an oversight, or they were unconscious and couldn’t say their names to those who were checking. There was no way to get more news than they had. They were told that the Carpathia was due into New York in three days, on the eighteenth. She would just have to keep faith until then, and be grateful for her mother’s survival. She refused to believe that her father and brother were dead. It just couldn’t be.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 102 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(44)

4 Star

(23)

3 Star

(16)

2 Star

(11)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 102 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2008

    Much Better!

    I have been disappointed with so many of Steel's recent books, that I questioned whether to bother buying this one. For the first time in a long time, I was not disappointed. Although it was a quick read, Annabelle's character was well developed. I liked that, even though she was dealt many horrible blows, she was able to overcome them. I think Danielle Steel needs to stick with historical fiction for awhile. Like "Zoya," "A Good Woman" has a heroine that I quickly became attached to and wanted to see her life turn out good. One thing, though....she needs to get rid of the red hair!!

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 20, 2009

    I loved the book!

    I usually don't read non-fiction books and this may be the first Danielle Steel book I have ever read but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I actually picked it up because I saw the Eiffel Tower on the cover and since I have been to Paris it caught my attention. I found the book an easy read and it kept my attention. I didn't want to put it down and I looked forward to getting back to reading it whenever I could. I was emotionally involved with the character and felt her pain and unfair treatment. I enjoyed it so much I didn't want it to end and hope it will someday be a movie where the script will follow the book as close as possible.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2013

    Love this book

    I have read this book quite a few times Thank You Danielle

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 22, 2012

    BEST BOOK WRITTEN BY STEEL

    This book was the best book written by Steel! I could not put this book down. I usually need to read a book to help me fall asleep. This book was so packed with excitment that I couldnt put it down. Its that good. Read the book in two days. Best book I have read this year. Dont hesitate buy this book! Its that good.......

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 14, 2009

    A Good Woman

    Danielle Steel writes another excellent book that you can't put down until you finish reading!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 3, 2008

    Not that great...

    Sorry to disagree with the other reviewers, but I just didn't care for this book. It was an easy read and I liked the setting for the story. However, throughout the book I just couldn't feel the pain and anguish for Annabelle that I should have. Her struggles were easily overcome and things just always worked out. Plus, she is wealthy and could do whatever she wanted. I just wasn't that into her story.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2013

    Very interesting subject-a must read

    A more philosophical book than in the past.Held my interest thru out the entire book. Provokes deeper thought and understanding. Have read all of Steel's books - her writing is improving -looking forward to her next book. I think book club discussions could be interesting.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2013

    I loved this book from the start. I don't know how can one perso

    I loved this book from the start. I don't know how can one person go through so much in life and overcome it, but Annabelle did it. This book is one of my favorites.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2013

    great and sad

    This book had it all
    Every aspect of life and emotions was felt reading this book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 2, 2012

    Great

    She never disappoints me

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2012

    This book is is This book is amazing.

    I not a big fan on book in the early centries but this book is amazing sad she had to go through those horrific things but had a good ending. I wish it was longer and in a series.






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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 16, 2012

    LOVED it!

    A great read, couldn't put it down, I was hooked from the beginning. My heart broke for this character over and over, an AMAZING Woman.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2011

    Best book I have ever read! Ever!

    I could not put this down, it went every where I did. Buying it on my Nook because its that darn good. Cant wait to read it again!

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  • Posted October 29, 2011

    AWESOME BOOK ****

    AWESOME BOOK ****

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  • Posted September 17, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Terrific read

    I consider 'A Good Woman' one of the best that Danielle Steel has written. The heroine suffered through many obstacles during her lifetime. When a character jumps out of the pages and you feel her emotions and tribulations in life; you realize that the book gives you the enjoyment of closeness with the character. 'A Good Woman' gave me that type of closeness to Annabelle. It was difficult to put the book down. I plan to continue reading Danielle's books and hope to find a book that is well written in comparison to 'A Good Woman'

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  • Posted September 6, 2011

    heartwarming

    Great charactors that played out well. Good reading!

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  • Posted May 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    FINALLY.....

    I stopped reading Danielle Steel because the story lines all seemed the same and the characters as well. This book, however, was a GREAT book. I strongly recommend it. I couldn't put it down and read it in only two days.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2011

    amazing!

    i loved this book! i actually read it twice! great story line.

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  • Posted May 15, 2011

    Heart wrenching story!

    A novel rarely makes me cry but this one did! This book lingered with me for awhile even after i was done reading it.

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  • Posted March 15, 2011

    I liked the storyline

    I liked the story line and the heroine. I finished it quickly. Sometimes, Danielle would repeat herself too much. I almost felt as if she didn't put enough trust in her readers.

    I love Danielle Steel, I feel her earlier work was better.

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