Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Echoes by Danielle Steel

Summarised Synopsis by Purple Queen Fairy :

Beata Wittgenstein, the quiet Jewish beauty met the love of her life in the summer of 1915. Unfortunately he’s French and a Catholic and her parents are unable to accept him. Beata followed her heart and left the only home she keow and the two of them build a new life together amidst the 1st world war. They had a daughter soon after marriage and they named her Amadea who had her own adventure when the 2nd world war starts. From the Carmelite convent to Nazi death camps and then to the heart of the French Resistance, Amadea will feel her mother’s loving strength as the voices of lost loved ones echo powerfully in her life.

From the elegant rituals of Europe’s pre-war aristocracy to the brutal desperation of Germany’s death camps, Danielle Steel draws us into a vanished world, weaving an intricate tapestry of a mother’s love, a daughter’s courage and the unwavering faith that sustained them – even in history’s darkest hour.

This is my first time reading Danielle Steel after a lapsed of 8 years. The cover of the book was rather nostalgic..a train with 3 children on the platform. It could be the Kindertransport that brought children from Germany to England during WW2 and save many lives. Or, it could also be Nazi trains that brought millions of Jews to death camps. Unfortunately, neither was prominently featured in the story. So, I’m not sure why this graphic. Most probably the person who choose the cover never read the book! I would think a beautiful Swiss landscape would be more appropriate as that’s where Beata spends her life after she left home to be with the man of her dream and where Amadea was born.

Echoes follow the lives of Beata and subsequently Amadea. While it was an enjoyable re-acquaintance with Danielle, it missed a lot of spots. There were many loose ends that I wish Danielle would tie up. Like, when Beata and her second daughter Daphne were taken away by the Nazi, that was the last time we heard of them. What actually happens to them? Most likely scenario would be they died in camp. And the ring that her mother gave to her, it just ended there. It would be nice if the ring made itself back to Amadea . And Daphne, she’s seems totally unimportant even though she was the long awaited 2nd child.

I would also love it if Beata’s brother, Ulm could be someone that sympathise with her when she left her family. This is one character that has great potential in Beata’s life and perhaps in the life of Amadea, given the opportunity. I am surprised that after the introduction of Ulm, and what a solid personality he is, he just faded away.

While I admire Amadea and how Danielle turned her from a nun into a French Resistance heroine, I didn’t really understand how someone who wants to study philosophy and psychology and literature would suddenly want to enter a convent and be totally submissive. It’s ok to having a desire to enter the convent but why introduce her as having the ambition and passion or something like philosophy and psychology. Might as well don’t mention it.

I felt Danielle tried to pack too many stuff into a 400+ paperback. The story has lots of potentials. Perhpas, she tried to cover both generations and in the event, things felt quite rushed and a lot of plots that could have developed further and followed up with was not done so successfully.

I still enjoyed the book. Perhaps not as much as 20 years ago when I am less critical of what I read.

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