Book: Echoes

Author: Danielle Steel

Publisher: Dell, reprinted in 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0440240785

ISBN-10: 0440240786

Related website: (author)

Language level: 3

(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing and/or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing and/or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)

Recommended reading level: Older teens and adults

Rating: *** 3 stars (FAIR)

Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker

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Steel, Danielle.  Echoes (published in 2004 by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Bantam Dell Publishing, a division of Random House Inc., New York City, NY).  While on vacation in Switzerland during the summer of 1915 with World War I raging, Beata Wittgenstein, the daughter of a rich German-Jewish banking family, meets and falls in love with Antoine de Villerand, a young Catholic French army officer who has been injured and is on leave in Switzerland.  They decide to marry. Both their families disown them, Beata becomes a Catholic, and they live in Switzerland till the war ends.   Afterwards, they move to Germany with their two-year-old daughter Amadea and after eight years have a second daughter, Daphne.  Then Antoine is killed in a horse riding accident, and Beata returns to her home town of Cologne.  Eventually, Amadea decides to become a Carmelite nun.  On Kristallnacht, the Wittgenstein bank and home are looted; the family are arrested and transported to Dachau concentration camp.

Beata is accidentally betrayed by a former family servant and arrested. She and Daphne are transported to Ravensbruck concentration camp.  Amadea remains in the convent but is arrested and sent to Terezin concentration camp but escapes and is taken to France where she becomes involved with the work of the local Resistance movement, falling in love with a French boy, Jean-Yves, who is killed in a sabotage operation.  She herself is badly injured and not expected to live.  What will happen to her?  What has happened to her family?    Will Amadea ever see them again?  Where will she end up?  Given the steamy reputation of her earlier Harlequin romance novels, I would never have picked up a book by Danielle Steel, but knowing my fondness for historical fiction, Echoes was recommended and given to me by a friend.  While it is quite sad, it is not nearly as bad as I was afraid it might be.

As to language, the “h” word is used as an interjection once, and a few instances of the exclamations “good Lord” and “my God” occur.  However, it is definitely not for children.  While there is no vulgar detail, the description of Beata and Antoine’s wedding leaves no doubt as to what is taking place.  Later, it is said that Amadea and Jean-Yves were “making love” a number of times before his death.  I really don’t plan on reading any more from Danielle Steel, but I’ll give this one a fair rating.  It is Steel’s sixty-fourth novel.  Some of the complaints I saw were historical inaccuracy due to lack of research, slow and boring development, abrupt ending with too many things left up in the air, and a lot of grammatical errors.  But, hey, who can argue with success?   Readers who enjoy melodramatic, multigenerational love stories set in historical plots will like it as Amadea comes to understand how love can echo through the generations.

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