A Good Woman

A Good Woman

by Danielle Steel

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Overview

Nineteen-year-old Annabelle Worthington was born into a life of privilege, but everything changed on an April day in 1912, when the sinking of the Titanic shattered her family and her world forever. Finding strength within her grief, Annabelle pours herself into volunteer work, 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 grief caused by the secrets of her husband. Betrayed, and pursued by undeserved scandal, 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, studying medicine and saving lives. 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.

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—who triumphs against overwhelming odds. More than compelling fiction, her story is a powerful celebration of life, dignity, and courage—and a testament to the human will to survive.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780440243304
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/25/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 82,966
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 6.98(h) x 1.06(d)

About the Author

Danielle Steel has been hailed as one of the world’s most popular authors, with over 650 million copies of her novels sold. Her many international bestsellers include Country, Prodigal Son, Pegasus, A Perfect Life, Power Play, Winners, First Sight, Until the End of Time, The Sins of the Mother, 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; A Gift of Hope, a memoir of her work with the homeless; Pure Joy, about the dogs she and her family have loved; and the children’s book Pretty Minnie in Paris.

Hometown:

San Francisco, California

Date of Birth:

August 14, 1947

Place of Birth:

New York, New York

Education:

Educated in France. Also attended Parsons School of Design, 1963, and New York University, 1963-67

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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Good Woman 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 109 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!!
Ann-E More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have read this book quite a few times Thank You Danielle
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.......
runnergirl83 11 months ago
Annabelle Worthington comes from a wealthy family when her life changes when she is 19 years old and her father and brother die in the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. The book follows after that tragedy, and onto an early seemingly idyllic marriage. Annabelle has a passion for medicine and does volunteer work; she continues in the medical field for her whole life. After fleeing from a scandal, she volunteers at a field hospital during World War I. This was another good read by Danielle Steel. Annabelle overcomes several setbacks and just keeps going forward. Maybe it was the time period, but her devotion to her husband after he betrays her was hard to read. He causes a scandal and everyone assumes she is the one who did something wrong, when it was actually the husband. Even her own best friend shuns her. As the title says, Annabelle is a good woman. She goes through several tragedies throughout her life, and is always putting others before her. Her genuine care for others over herself is commendable. This is maybe the third or fourth book I have read by Danielle Steel. I can see why she has been so popular, she writes interesting stories.
suzanne5002 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not your typical, cheese-y by Steel. I think her historicals are the best. It was great from the beginning. A woman in the early 1900's whose husband & her family had died & she had to choose what she wanted to do with her life. She went to medical school and became a doctor. She opened her own practice & took care of her son. She had to overcome some situations since she was female.
justablondemoment on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another good book from Steel. I honestly don't know if she can write a bad one. Rich in character development and scenery, but not so much to give you the 'come on already' feeling. I didn't find to many surprises in this book as everything went smooth and was easy to guess what was to come. This usually disturbs me but with this book it didn't. It was like eating your favorite meal....having seen it you KNOW what it is...having eaten it a few time you KNOW the taste...the knowlege of this doesn't lessen your senses it acts quite the opposite. It's what makes your tastebuds water and want more. Great read....Recommend
PierresFamily More than 1 year ago
"A Good Woman" is fast-moving blend of history and fiction. Itt is he story of Annabelle Worthington, woman living in a difficult time for women - the early 1900s. She overcame heartbreak and a reputation that was ruined by false gossip, to become someone who made a difference - first as a medic during World War I, and then an accomplished doctor. I did disagree with one of Annabelle's decisions, to not vindicate herself; I disagreed with her misplaced loyalty to the primary person who betrayed her. But my strong feelings are just evidence of the talent of Danielle Steel, in creating well-developed characters about whom her readers care deeply.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put it down. Loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good book, not enough action for me, kind of drawn out. But the few surprises were good ones! And the ending was satisfying. I'd recommend this book for sure.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book had it all Every aspect of life and emotions was felt reading this book
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She never disappoints me
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago