THURSTON HOUSE by Danielle Steel
Kirkus Star


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Steel in her most bland, competent, and predictable vein--with the saga (circa 18851945) of a San Francisco mining/wining clan that goes in for dramatic childbirths but not too much other excitement. We start out in the 1880s with Jeremiah Thurston, 40-ish silver-mine tycoon in rural California, who's never gotten over the long-ago death of his fiancÉe. Suddenly, however, Jeremiah's love-life starts hopping (triggered by a local flu epidemic and intimations of mortality); leaving nice once-a-week mistress Mary Ellen behind, he travels on business to Atlanta--courting lovely N.Y. widow Amelia in transit but really falling for nouveau-riche belle Camille Beauchamp, only 17. Nuptials ensue; Mary Ellen is noble (and pregnant!); Jeremiah builds a Nob Hill mansion for his bride. But Camille is a rotten, spoiled brat who tries to avoid pregnancy (baby Sabrina does eventually surface--hand-delivered by Jeremiah), is nasty to beloved housekeeper Hannah. . . and then runs off with a languid French count ""who played her body like a harp."" So Jeremiah raises little Sabrina himself, telling her that her mother is dead--and then Jeremiah himself is really dead, soon after he and Sabrina are caught in the '06 quake while re-opening Thurston House in Frisco. Sabrina, 18, determines to run the mines herself, stands up to surly miners (including a rapist), and falls in hate-then-love with older mining-rival John Harte--whose Indian mistress (another noble one) rescues Sabrina from a second rape attack. But will there be happily-ever-after for the Hartes? Hardly. Soon after baby Jon is born in 1914, John Sr. dies in a train wreck. And Jon, over-mothered by widow Sabrina, will grow up to be a snob, a pill--a ""rotten kid"" who unearths loathsome Grandma Camille (a nice mom-daughter melee ensues), scoffs when Sabrina marries winery-partner Andre (and births again at 48), steals his step-brother's love. . . and dies, to general rejoicing, in World War II. Slow and steady--with few surprises, only a tad or two of sex, all those labor pains. . . and modest, low-level, formula pleasure most of the way through.

Pub Date: July 5th, 1983
Publisher: Dell