The House on Hope Street – Danielle Steel

Life was good for Liz and Jack Sutherland.  In 18 years of marriage, they had built a family, a successful law practice, and a warm, happy home near San Francisco, in a house on Hope Street.  Then, in an instant, it all fell apart.  It began like any other Christmas morning, with joy and children’s laughter.  But for Jack Sutherland, a five-minute errand ends in tragedy.  And suddenly, Liz is alone, facing painful questions in the wake of an unbearable loss.

How can she go on without her husband, her partner, her best friend?  How can she grieve when she must console five devastated children, including one with special needs of his own?  Powered by her children’s love, Liz finds the strength to return to work, to become both mother and ‘daddy’, coaching her youngest son for the Special Olympics.  And one by one the holidays come and go before her eyes: Valentine’s Day without flowers and without Jack…Easter…July 4th…Then, just weeks before Labor Day, a devastating accident sends her oldest son to the hospital-and brings a doctor named Bill Webster into her life.  Bill becomes a friend to Liz as he slowly heals her shattered son.

And as long as the days of summer blend into fall, a new relationship offers new hope, and Liz reflects on what she has, on what she’s lost, on the little blessings that give strength when nothing else is left.  Then, with the first anniversary of her husband’s death approaching, and with it another Christmas in the house on Hope Street, Liz will face one more crisis before she can look back at a year of mourning and change-and ahead to the beginning of a new life.

I don’t know what I was expecting but this was an utter disappointment. I’ve had similar reactions to some of other recent books I’ve read like:

But I thought maybe it’s just me.

I’ve read all of the books I could find from her when I was younger and I remember being glued to the story like there was no tomorrow. “The House on Hope Street” though, is not “glue” material. It’s sentimental, it’s talking about loss and love but not to a deep enough level that I would care about any of the characters. The first third was quite good – attorney in family law gets too brutal with a client’s assets during a divorce which causes client to go and kill his soon to be ex wife and the lawyer who imposed the restriction and then commit suicide.

That was the highlight of the book.

What follows is the dreary details of telling the family, organising a funeral, mourning, trying to pick up the pieces and go to work and take care of 5 kids, having issues with the small kid who hurts himself, going to the hospital, talking to the doctor, dating way too soon after the death of the hubby, bringing the new man to meet the family before the mourning year is up, having the kids blow up at their mom (fair) , the breakup, the heartache, the first Christmas without their dad and husband, trying to rekindle the relationship with the new ex in the new year, being lucky and starting over again with a new guy, 5 kids and a new job in child law rather than family law.

This is it. There is nothing else, no tension, no drama, nothing to make it worthwhile.

I didn’t buy the fact that Liz falls in love so quickly after her husband’s death – considering that she loved that man to the heaven and back.  She was so desperate to be in a relationship with Bill that she nearly begged him to stay with her. That’s a lot of red flags…

Now imagine this book re-written from the ghost’s POV. Or the Kids. Or the new guy who is now dating a single mom of 5 kids. That would have made a slightly more palatable reading.

1/5 – charity box.

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