Steel ( Daddy , Audio Reviews, LJ 1/93) remains invincible in the publishing world, and this abridgment of her most recent novel, Jewels , is likely to continue her success. Narrator Tim Curry continues his trend of highly professional readings. His use of multiple voices enables him to keep the large cast of characters distinguishable. Although Sarah Whitfield is originally American, Curry supplies her with a soft British accent, acceptable in one who has spent 50 years in Europe. William, Duke of Whitfield, speaks with quiet assurance, confident about his place in the world. The story itself is gentle, with little sex or profanity, and is pleasing to the listener's ear. The abridgment seems to spend an inordinate amount of time in the early years of Sarah's marriage, making the end seem rather rushed. Regardless, Curry is a joy to hear, and this audiobook will circulate heavily in public libraries.-- Jodi L. Israel, Westwood, Mass.
At the start, Steel seems to nick Barbara Cartland's preserves: lovely lass is wooed by English duke. But, here, the lass is a divorced American, and the duke has no wicked gleam in the eye. Once they're wed, it's Steel puff-pastry romance time. There's a stretch of true love and noble sacrifice during WW II in France, then troubles with bothersome offspring, the blossoming of a family jewelry businessand, of course, luxury digs and great duds. Sarah is in Europewith her divorce from a playboy drunk already in the workswhen she meets William, Duke of Whitfield, 14th in line to the throne. William falls in love, but how could Sarah say yes right after Edward VIII had to abdicate (in 1936) to marry a Divorced Woman, and thereby plug up William's conduit to the crown? Love wins, however, and Cousin Bertie (George VI) gives his blessing. No doubt royalty caresit's the ex-king and his bride who get word to Sarah in her French chateau during WW II to tell her that William is missing in action. By this time Sarah has had two children, one (whom she will lose) delivered by the decent German officer in charge of requisitioning her house. The war ends. Will William return? Of course he will, and then Emanuelle, the village girl, suggests that the Whitfields help the refugees by buying their jewels. What a grand idea! Soon, though, jewels are piling up everywhere. Why not open a store! Wonderful! Eventually, the four surviving children will be involved: stuffy heir Phillip; kind Julian; headstrong Isabelle; jaunty Xavier. Except for the last, all marry disastrously, recoup, and produce kids. At the close, now-widowed Sarah beams on all at her 75th. Much of thisairy nonsense is backgroundthin and threadbare (Steel does best on home shores). But fantasies with dukes, jewels, and French chateauxplus the Steel namecan be counted on to shoot off the shelves. (Literary Guild Dual Selection for June)