It certainly is a ‘Matter of the Heart’

by Lakshmi Palaniappan on December 27, 2012

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Author: Danielle Steel
Publisher: Random House
Year: 2012
ISBN: 978055216023
Rating: ★★★½☆
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Danielle Steel is on a roll. When I see a Steel novel, I simply cannot resist picking it up and immediately get started on it, mainly for the warmth that it envelops us in. And the variety that Steel offers in her recent novels is incredible. “Betrayal” one of her recent works was a thriller, whereas, “Promise”, one of her first books is a perfect love story and “Happy Birthday” is simply a celebration of life. “Matters of the Heart”, that revolves around the life of a sociopath, is yet another gem from the treasure trove of this author. Unlike her previous works that are light hearted, this particular novel is deep and some would say, depressing. But it’s all a ‘matter of the heart’, whether one would appreciate it or not.

The plot revolves around Hope Dunne, a top photographer. Hope is described in a beguilingly simple way, that her beauty is felt in the reader’s mind without being stressed upon at all. But like all of Steel’s heroines, Hope is also a woman made of steel (forgive the pun), devoted to her family and takes life at face value.

After a devastating divorce from her terminally ill husband – Paul, Hope leads a life entirely devoted to her work. That is, until the fateful assignment that takes her to Finn O’Neil, the seemingly charming Irish author. The successful author woos Hope and the two spark it off instantly. “Coup de foudre” like the French would call it. But, after a sweeping romance, the kaleidoscopic hues of love started fading. Finn seems to have made a big story of his own life and lies and cracks start to pop up in the colorful picture that he painted in Hope’s mind. The once charming and appealing writer is now a bundle of lies and contradictions and starts to emit the characteristics of a sociopath. Who is the real Finn – the publicly acclaimed, loving person or a frightfully cunning sociopath? Is Hope’s life doomed?

The prologue of the book is a write up about a sociopath in general. And, though it adds to the general aura of the book, it is a bit revealing as well. The fact that Finn O’Neil is a sociopath is unraveled, maybe unintentionally removes the element of surprise or mystery from the storyline. Steel could have let the peas out of the pod a tad bit later.

Nevertheless, the book is disturbingly captivating. And the way Steel carries the story, makes you feel what the protagonist endures. The love, the hope, the frustration even the camaraderie between the lovers is heart wrenching. To me, the novel is a fine piece of work, maybe deep, but not depressing in the least bit and is a worthy addition to Steel’s repertoire.

Not a light read, this piece reaches out to the soul rather than the mind. Savor this novel like a fine Chablis and don’t skim over it. A captivating read.

Written by Lakshmi Palaniappan

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