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The Cottage

The Cottage

3.8 38
by Danielle Steel

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In her fifty-fourth bestselling novel, Danielle Steel weaves a compelling story of fame and friendship, charmed lives and private struggles...and of three very different men whose lives converge and collide at The Cottage.

On a sunny day in Hollywood, a gleaming Rolls-Royce convertible pulls through the gates of the magnificent estate known as The


In her fifty-fourth bestselling novel, Danielle Steel weaves a compelling story of fame and friendship, charmed lives and private struggles...and of three very different men whose lives converge and collide at The Cottage.

On a sunny day in Hollywood, a gleaming Rolls-Royce convertible pulls through the gates of the magnificent estate known as The Cottage. Modeled after the “cottages” of Newport, Rhode Island, the spacious, elegant property, sitting on fourteen acres of lush Bel Air, fits its owner to a T. For the man behind the wheel of the Rolls is Hollywood’s ageless wonder, Cooper Winslow. A star of the silver screen for decades, a man whose allure to women is the stuff of legend, Coop exudes grace, charm, and old-fashioned style. But today Coop Winslow is in for a major surprise. He’s broke. And with no major roles coming his way, Coop is faced with the heartbreaking prospect of selling his beloved home of forty years, or at least renting out the gatehouse and part of the main house. A huge blow to Coop, whose debonair attitude allows him to escape reality much of the time.

His new tenants, Mark Friedman and Jimmy O’Connor, are busy coping with problems of their own. Mark’s wife of sixteen years just walked out, and Jimmy recently lost his own wife to a devastating illness. But everything changes when Mark’s teenage son and daughter move in. Suddenly, The Cottage is transformed, with music blasting from every corner, teenagers on skateboards crashing into vintage cars, and a never-ending parade of young starlets streaming in and out to visit Coop.

But amid all the noise and the chaos,something unexpected is happening. Three men who never would have met are becoming friends...and each man finds himself changing in surprising ways, Coop most of all. Because beneath the dazzle and flash, the impeccably tailored suits and the sheer bravado, is a man trying to keep control of his carefully ordered world–a world that is becoming more and more unpredictable with each passing day.

First, a tabloid scandal erupts, threatening Coop’s budding romance with a wealthy debutante. . .A stranger approaches Coop with stunning news....A devastating accident almost claims the life of one of the housemates....And in the midst of it all, The Cottage welcomes a new houseguest with a secret of her own, who will change Coop’s life in unexpected ways. Because among the people who share his cottage and his life, Coop Winslow–loner, bachelor, movie star–may find the rarest of all opportunities: a chance to build a happiness he could never have dreamed of on his own, and to become the kind of human being he has never been.

Against a glittering backdrop of celebrity and glamour, Danielle Steel digs deeper to tell a story of friendship and love, tragedy and second chances...of the choices and unexpected turns of fate that can shape characters and lives.

Editorial Reviews

Fans of Danielle Steel will not be surprised that “the cottage” celebrated herein is not a humble bungalow but a lush, expansive mansion. Aging film star Cooper Winslow owns it, but recently his extended unemployment has obliged him to take in tenants. With characteristic aplomb, Steel records the transformation of a princely house and its diverse, not always dignified residents.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
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Product dimensions:
4.16(w) x 6.86(h) x 1.09(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The sun glinted on the elegant mansard roof of The Cottage , as Abe Braunstein drove around the last bend in the seemingly endless driveway. The sight of the imposing French manor would have taken his breath away, if the driver had been anyone but Abe. It was a spectacular home, and he had been there dozens of times before. The Cottage was one of the last legendary homes of Hollywood. It was reminiscent of the palaces built by the Vanderbilts and Astors in Newport, Rhode Island, at the turn of the century. This one was in the style of an eighteenth century French chateau and was opulent, handsome, graceful, exquisite in every aspect of its design.

It had been built for Vera Harper, one of the great stars of silent movies, in 1918. She had been one of the few early stars to conserve her fortune, had married well more than once, and had lived there until she died at a ripe old age in 1959. Cooper Winslow had bought it from her estate a year later. She had had no children and no heirs, and had left everything she had, including The Cottage to the Catholic Church. He had paid a handsome sum for it even then, because his career had been booming at the time. His acquisition of The Cottage had caused a considerable stir. It had been quite an extraordinary house and property for a young man of twenty-eight, no matter how major a star he was. Coop had had no embarrassment about living in the palatial home, and was comfortable that it was worthy of him.

The house was surrounded by fourteen acres of park and impeccably manicured gardens in the heart of Bel Air; it had a tennis court, an enormous pool paved in blue and gold mosaic, and there werefountains located in a number of places on the grounds. The design of the grounds and gardens had allegedly been copied from Versailles. It was quite a place. Inside the house were high-vaulted ceilings, many of them painted by artists brought in from France to do the work. The dining room and library were wood-paneled, and the boiseries and floors in the living room had been brought over from a chateau in France.

It had provided a wonderful setting for Vera Harper, and had been a spectacular home for Cooper Winslow ever since. And the one thing Abe Braunstein was grateful for was that Cooper Winslow had bought it outright when he purchased it in 1960, although he had taken two mortgages out on it since. But even they didn't hamper its value. It was by far the most important piece of property in Bel Air. It would have been hard to put a price on it today. There were certainly no other houses comparable to it in the area, or anywhere else for that matter, except maybe in Newport, but the value of the estate in Bel Air was far greater than it would have been anywhere else, despite the fact that it was now somewhat in disrepair.

There were two gardeners pulling weeds around the main fountain as Abe got out of his car, and two others working in a flowerbed nearby, as Abe made a mental note to cut the gardening staff in half, at the very least. All he could see as he looked around him were numbers, and dollar bills flying out windows. He knew almost to the penny what it cost Winslow to run the place. It was an obscene amount by anyone's standards, and certainly by Abe's. He did the accounting for at least half the major stars in Hollywood, and had learned long since not to gasp or wince or faint or make overt gestures of outrage when he heard what they spent on houses and cars and furs and diamond necklaces for their girlfriends. But in comparison to Cooper Winslow, all of their extravagances paled.

Abe was convinced that Coop Winslow spent more than King Farouk. He'd been doing it for nearly fifty years, he spent money like water, and hadn't had an important part in a major movie in more than twenty years. For the last ten, he'd been reduced to minor character parts, and cameo appearances, for which he was paid very little. And for the most part, no matter what the movie or the role or the costume, Cooper always seemed to play the dashing, charming, fabulously handsome Casanova, and more recently the irresistible aging roue.

But no matter how irresistible he still was on screen, there were fewer and fewer parts for him to play. In fact, as Abe rang the front door bell and waited for someone to answer, Coop hadn't had any part at all in just over two years. But he claimed he met with directors and producers about their new movies every day. Abe had come to talk turkey with him about that, and about cutting back his expenses radically in the near future. He had been living in debt and on promises for the past five years. And Abe didn't care if he made commercials for his neighborhood butcher, but Coop was going to have to get out and work—and soon. There were a lot of changes he was going to have to make. He had to cut back dramatically, reduce his staff, sell some of his cars, stop buying clothes and staying at the most expensive hotels around the world. Either that, or sell the house, which Abe would have preferred.

He wore a dour expression as he stood in his gray summer suit, white shirt, and black and gray tie, as a butler in a morning coat opened the front door. He recognized the accountant immediately and nodded a silent greeting. Livermore knew from experience that whenever the accountant came to visit, it put his employer in a dreadful mood. It sometimes required an entire bottle of Cristal champagne to restore him to his usual good spirits, sometimes an entire tin of caviar too. He had put both on ice the moment Liz Sullivan, Coop's secretary, had warned Livermore that the accountant would be arriving at noon.

She had been waiting for Abe in the paneled library, and crossed the front hall with a smile as soon as she heard the bell. She had been there since ten that morning, going over some papers to prepare for the meeting, and she'd had a knot in her stomach since the night before. She had tried to warn Coop what the meeting was about, but he'd been too busy to listen the previous day. He was going to a black-tie party, and wanted to be sure to get a haircut, a massage, and a nap before he went out. And she hadn't seen him that morning. He was out at a breakfast at the Beverly Hills Hotel when she arrived, with a producer who had called him about a movie with a possible part in it for him.

It was hard to pin Coop down, particularly if it involved bad news or something unpleasant. He had an instinctive sense, a kind of finely tuned supersonic radar that warned him almost psychically about things he didn't want to hear. Like incoming Scud missiles, he managed to dodge them with ease. But she knew he had to listen this time, and he had promised to be back by noon. With Coop, that meant closer to two.

"Hello, Abe, it's nice to see you," Liz said warmly. She was wearing khaki slacks, a white sweater, and a string of pearls, none of which flattered her figure, which had expanded considerably in the twenty-two years she'd worked for Coop. But she had a lovely face, and naturally blonde hair. She had been truly beautiful when Coop hired her, she had looked like an advertisement for Breck shampoo.

It had been love at first sight between them, not literally, or at least not from Coop's side. He thought she was terrific, and valued her flawless efficiency, and the motherly way she had taken care of him from the first. When he hired her she had been thirty years old, and he was forty-eight. She had worshipped him, and had a secret crush on him for years. She had given her life's blood to the impeccable running of Cooper Winslow's life, working fourteen hours a day, sometimes seven days a week, if he needed her, and in the process, she had forgotten to get married or have kids. It was a sacrifice she had willingly made for him. She still thought he was worth it. And at times she was worried sick about him, particularly in recent years.

Reality was not important to Cooper Winslow. He considered it a minor inconvenience, like a mosquito buzzing around his head, and he avoided it all costs. Successfully, from his perspective at least, most of the time. Nearly always in fact. Coop only heard what he wanted to hear, i.e., only good news. The rest he filtered out long before it reached either his brain or his ears. And so far, he had gotten away with it. Abe had come that morning to deliver reality to him, whether Coop liked it or not.

"Hello, Liz. Is he here?" Abe asked, looking stern. He hated dealing with Coop. They were opposites in every way.

"Not yet," she said with a friendly smile, as she led him back to the library, where she'd been waiting for both of them. "But he'll be back any minute. He had a meeting about a lead part."

"In what? A cartoon?" Liz very diplomatically did not respond. She hated it when people said rude things about Coop. But she also knew how irritated the accountant had been with him.

Coop had followed absolutely none of his advice, and his precarious financial situation had become even more so, disastrously so in fact, in the past two years. And Abe's last words to Liz on the phone the day before had been "This has to stop." He had come on a Saturday morning to deliver the message, and it annoyed him no end that as usual, Coop was late. He always was. And because of who he was, and how endearing he could be when he chose to, people always waited for him. Even Abe.

"Would you like a drink?" Liz asked, playing hostess, as Livermore stood by stone-faced. He had a single expression he used in every situation, none. It seemed to suit his part. Although rumor had it that once or twice, when Cooper teased him mercilessly about something, he had actually smiled. But no one had actually seen him do it, so it was more legend than fact. But Coop swore he did.

"No, thanks," Abe said, looking almost equally expressionless as the butler, although Liz could see that irritation was creeping in at a rapid speed.

"Iced tea?" There was still an ingenue quality about her as she tried to put him at ease.

"That would be fine. How late do you think he'll be?" It was twelve-oh-five. And they both knew that Coop would think nothing of being an hour or two late. But he would come armed with a plausible excuse, and a dazzling smile, which made women go weak at the knees, but not Abe.

"Hopefully, it won't be long. It's just a preliminary meeting. They were going to give him a script to read."


His more recent parts had been walk-ons, or showed him walking in or out of a premiere, or at a bar draped over some girl. Almost every part he played was in black tie. And he was as charming on the set as he was in real life. So much so that even now, the perks in his contracts were legendary. He somehow always got to keep his costumes, and negotiated his wardrobe, custom made at all his favorite tailors in Paris, London, and Milan. In addition to which, much to Abe's chagrin, he continued to buy more, wherever he went, along with antiques, crystal, linens, and staggeringly expensive art for his house.

The bills were stacked up on Abe's desk, along with the bill for his most recent Rolls. Rumor had it he currently had his eye on a limited-edition, turbo-powered convertible Bentley Azure for half a million dollars. It would be a handsome addition to the two Rolls, a convertible and a sedan, and the custom-built Bentley limousine he had in the garage. Coop viewed the cars and wardrobe not as luxuries, but as the necessities of life. Those were the basics, the rest was cream.

A houseman appeared from the kitchen with two glasses of iced tea on a silver tray. Livermore had disappeared. The young man hadn't even left the room when Abe looked over at Liz with a frown.

"He's got to fire the staff. I want to do it today." Liz saw the houseman glance back over his shoulder with a look of concern, and she smiled reassuringly at him.

It was her job to keep everyone happy and pay what bills she could. Their salaries were always top on her list, but even those had to slide for a month or two at times. They were used to it. And she herself hadn't been paid in six months. She'd had a little trouble explaining that to her fiance. She always caught up when Coop did a commercial or got a small part in a film. She could afford to be patient. Unlike Coop, she had a nest egg socked away. She never had time to spend money, and she had lived frugally for years. Coop was always generous with her, when he could.

"Maybe we can let them go slowly, Abe. This is going to be hard on them."

"He can't pay them, Liz. You know that. I'm going to advise him to sell the cars and the house. He won't get much for the cars, but if he sells the house, we can pay off the mortgage, and his debts, and he can live decently on the rest. He can buy an apartment in Beverly Hills, and be in good shape again." He hadn't been in years.

But the house, Liz knew, was part of Coop, like an arm or a leg or an eye. It was his heart. It had been part of his identity for more than forty years. Coop would rather have died than sell The Cottage . And he wouldn't part with the cars, she was sure. The idea of Coop behind the wheel of anything but a Rolls or a Bentley was unthinkable. His image was part of who he was, all of who he was in fact. And most people had no idea that he was in dire financial straits. They just thought he was casual about paying his bills.

There had been a little problem with the IRS a few years before, and Liz had seen to it that all the proceeds from a movie he made in Europe had gone to them instantly. It had never happened again. But things were tough these days. All he needed was one great film, Coop said. And Liz echoed that to Abe. She always defended Coop, and had for twenty-two years. It was getting harder to do so lately because of the irresponsible way he behaved. That was just Coop, they both knew well.

From the Hardcover edition.

Copyright 2002 by Danielle Steel

Meet 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.

Brief Biography

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

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The Cottage 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
Lisalatte More than 1 year ago
As always.............an amazing and captivating story by this author! Enjoyed it and it was a smoothe read..............thanks again
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a good book. i would recommend it however i felt the book was lacking at the end... i was hoping for a little more. she gave a lot of detail in the begining and middle of the book maybe even TOO much and you would have thought that she would have finished it in that manner, however it was as if she got tired of writing at the end... however in all it was a good read
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Danielle Steel's books. This one had a different flavor in that the main characters were men. The plot carried you along gently unfolding as you learned the true spirit of their character. When I put it down something always brought me back. A quick read but worth the effort.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Excellent book! Couldn't wait to get home to read it! Just finished it last night and now I wish I hadn't. I want more!! Really great writer! Danielle Steel outdid herself yet again! What Talent! Never lets me down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read the outtake that was on the internet and I can hardly wait until I can purchase this for my collection. I believe the title 'The Cottage' really puts a wonderful view of brightly blooming flowers, fresh air and green meadows into my mind.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ms. Steele has always delivered to her audience. She is insightful while being brilliant in her stories. I love her books and have thoroughly enjoyed every one of them. 'The Cottage' is a wonderful read that any Danielle Steele fan would snap up.
DCraighead More than 1 year ago
For my first Danielle Steel book, I thought it was a very enjoyable and a smoothe read... will be reading some more of her books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't want to finish it. It was so good that I was sorry the story ended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am very picky about which Steeles I read, and out of the zillions she writes, I have only read a handful. This one is a gem about the bonds of friendship and love in a setting that on the outside may not be conducive to either. Over the hill actor Cooper Winslow, long in the toith and short in the pocketbook is forced to rent out the guestwing and guest house of his Bel Aire Mansion known as the Cottage,if he wants to keep it and it changes not only him but those around him. Worth finding
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great story line,a glimpse into Hollywoods famous lives even if fictional
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of my favorite books written by Danielle Steel. I couldn't put this book down, I read it in two days. This is just an outstanding book. I loved this book so much i hated when it ended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm a true Danielle Steel fan--there is nothing that she has published that I haven't read. This book is not 'vintage Danielle Steel' quality but it is the best I've read in several years. Good story and interesting characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful story. Danielle Steel has done a wonderful book. I just could not put it down. I loved every minute of this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a truly wonderful book that you won't want to put down. I hated to see it end. Three men with three different lifestyles come together at the Cottage and a whole new world opens up for each of them. This is a great book to read. I strongly recommend this book to anyone, and Steel fans it is a sure WINNER!!!
bmamca36 More than 1 year ago
Cooper Winslow is a 70 year old Hollywood playboy who is no longer able to find substantial acting jobs. He has an extremely beautiful home referred to as "The Cottage". Coop finds himself in severe financial distress and decides to rent out the guest wing of the house as well as the Gate House located on the property. His tenants or "house guests" as Coop calls them are both men who have just recently become single. One due to the recent death of their spouse and the other one was recently left by his wife for another man. The story revolves around these three men who otherwise would not be friends. It was an interesting story about the bonds of friendship.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Slept pn jer couch,jer swiss army inife out off her pocket. She folled over and stuckher but up. She rolled ahain and lay stilll. Her knife hung out of her pocket
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