This book of Daniel’s is not her best. She drags the story needlessly and the element of evoking emotions in the reader, which she is among the finest at, is sorely lacking in several parts of this work. We could never understand the days when young men were mandated to enlist in the army. This could be a reason why I was not able to relate to the plot, and hence the declaration of this work not being her best.
The protagonist heralds failure at two staggeringly diverse junctions of her life, the civilized world and the world of war. You get the feel that her paramours in the war-torn area will eventually die, as you move through the book, and you would think that she too will expect it, given the nature of the job she was covering. In parts, she does, but not entirely, and that irked me. I could quite relate to the fact that she felt disinterested in the daily life of her friends, once she returned from her journalistic work on the battle-field. Having witnessed men get blown up in action or by accident can render your heart cold. The daily parties that the civilized people revel in and the tantrums that teenagers throw during their mood swings do not seem interesting any further. Your perception of life completely changes.Steel succeeds in creating this emotion through her letter-assortments.
Her reason for migrating to Vietnam is very understandable. When you have a childhood where your family doesn’t support you in your endeavours, you have to make your own future. When you don’t know what love is, it is not your fault if you are swept off your feet by a person smitten with you. Returning that favour multi-fold and then losing him to an accident will break anyone’s heart. Mired in the cruelty that life bestowed on you is a silver lining. Hers was her long trip to Saigon to find reason, to find order in chaos.
As I moved towards the climax, I had this dreadful feeling that she once again had to return to civilized life heart-broken due to the loss of Tony Campobello, and this dread vanished when a parallel story of the protagonist interviewing the war’s survivors surfaced.
I have read better books of Steel’s, like The Ring and Toxic Bachelors. These books have made me cry and those are the sort of books that you would expect from Danielle Steel. If you have experienced any war at any level, then this book may appeal to you.