Steel, Danielle: Fine Things
(researched by Robyn Galbavy)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description
1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)
Danielle Steel. Fine Things. New York: Delacorte Press (Bantam Doubleday Publishing Group, Inc.) Danielle Steel copyrighted the First American Edition of Fine Things in 1987. In this same year, Delacorte Press gave permission to Guild Publishing in London to publish the first UK Edition, as well as Joseph Publishing of London. Further, Dell Publishing of New York printed a First Braille Edition in 1987. (Again, with permission from Delacorte). The Large Print Edition, the Book Club Edition, and a "Readers Edition" were also printed in this same year by Delacorte Press.
2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?
The First American Edition is published in blue trade cloth binding and is covered with a glossy white dust jacket. Every indication (Amazon.com, Worldcat, Bibliofind, Interloc), suggests that the paperback edition did not appear until 1988.
3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available
4 Pagination
204 leaves, pp. [i-viii] 1-397 [398-400]
5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?
This novel is neither edited nor introduced. However, there is a dedication which reads: To my sweet love, John, / and our children / Beatrix, Trevor, Todd, Nicholas, Samantha, Victoria, Vanessa, and Maxx / with all my heart, / and love / for all that you are / and do / and mean to me / And in memory of a special lady / and her family, Carola Haller / d.s. Opposite the title page is a publisher advertisement for 20 other books also written by Danielle Steel.
6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?
This novel contains no illustrations.
7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available
8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)
Readability of the book is excellent. The large print and adequate spacing between lines prevents the reader from losing his/her place. Thus, it is easier to lose oneself in the novel. The printing and typography is attractive, although at times the ink looks as though it has faded a bit. Size of page: 23 cm. by 15 cm. Size of text: 16.5 cm. by 11 cm. Thus, the margins are quite generous, making the book an easy read. However, as a student used to reading pages of dense text, I was almost condescending as I approached this novel that looks more like a children's book! 20 lines of text: 90R(mm) The page numbers, centered at the bottom of each page and enclosed within parenthesis, are also in Roman type. The chapter fonts are centered in the middle of a one-half page of white space, written in italic type. The font of a capital "C" measured 1 cm. "DANIELLE STEEL" appears on the top of each left page of text in roman type (the same size as the rest of the text), centered, in all caps. Her name, however, does not appear on chapter pages. "FINE THINGS" is centered on the top of each right-hand page, the same size as the rest of the text, centered, in all caps. "FINE THINGS" does not appear on chapter pages, though. All of the type is serif. The title page and cover are done in "Titling Letters." On the dust jacket cover, the "A" of "DANIELLE" and the "S" of "STEEL" are artfully connected.
9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available
10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)
The book is composed of a light cream wove paper with jagged/rough right edges. The endpapers are grey on one side, light cream on the other side, and of a heavier "card paper" stock. The endpapers are also smoother than the text leaves, that are a bit grainier and feel soft like newsprint. It seems appropriate to use this cheaper form of paper for these "common printings" of mass produced newspapers and novels. The dust jacket is of a glossy, white stock.
11 Description of binding(s)
The binding is constructed of calico-texture cloth. It is medium blackish. The binding is a bit faded and discolored. However, the dust jacket appears to have always been on the book, as indicated by the slightly torn edges of the glossy stock. Further, this edition was personally owned by my grandmother, so it probably hasn't been read more than a few times. Thus, this binding and dust jacket do not appear to have been engineered to endure many readings. In grey (silvery) embossed print, stamped vertically on the spine is: DANIELLE STEEL|FINE THINGS|[publisher's crest]|DELACORTE PRESS Both the publisher's name and crest appear horizontally on the bottom of the spine. There is nothing on the front or back cover. The cover is a purplish pink, and is worn significantly at the corners. There are no illustrations on the endpapers. Again, the endpapers are of a heavier "card stock," grey on one side, and the light cream color of the text leaves on the other side.
12 Transcription of title page
Recto of title page: DANIELLE STEEL|FINE THINGS|[publisher's crest]|DELACORTE PRESS/NEW YORK Verso of the title page: Published by|Delacorte Press|I Dag Hammarskjold Plaza|New York, N. Y. 10017|Copyright [copyright symbol] 1987 by Danielle Steel|All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or|transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,|including photocopying, recording or by any information storage|and retrieval system, without the written permission of the|Publisher, except where permitted by law.|MANUFACTURED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA|FIRST PRINTING|Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data|Steel, Danielle.|Fine Things.|I. Title.|PS3569.t33828f5 1987 813'.54 86-13397|ISBN 0-385-29527-8|ISBN 0-385-29542-I
13 JPEG image of title page, if available
14 Manuscript Holdings
After the production process was done, the publisher returned Fine Things (the original manuscript) to Danielle Steel. Source: E-mail correspondence with the author
15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)
The dust jacket is of a creamy, glossy stock that is yellowing a lot around the edges. The edges are also frilled quite a bit. In silver embossed stamping, outlined with gold is printed: DANIELLE STEEL|[ILLUSTRATION]|FINE THINGS The illustration is a gold and silver circular design. On the spine, in the same silver embossed stamping, outlined in gold is written vertically: DANIELLE STEEL|FINE THINGS Printed in black ink, horizontally, on the bottom of the dust jacket's spine is: [publisher's crest]|Delacorte Press On the back of the dust jacket is a photograph of the author with her name underneath in titling letters and a barcode (both centered). On the inside of the dust jacket is a summary of the novel, which continues onto the back flap of the dust jacket, as well. This specific copy was purchased and personally owned by my grandmother. It has been loaned out to a couple of friends and myself.
Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History
1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A
IN 1987, DELACORTE PRESS ISSUED FINE THINGS IN 3 OTHER EDITIONS: Book Club Edition: 339 p., 24 cm. Large Print Edition: 540 p., 24 cm. Large Print Book Club Edition: 663 p., 22 cm.
2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available
3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available
4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?
The first printing of Fine Things issued 550,000 copies. By the third printing of 25,000, there were 575,000 copies.
5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A
1987: Dell Publishing, New York: 415 p., 18 cm. Braille Edition (Braille Transcription Project of Santa Clara County). Reprinted by arrangement with Delacorte Press. 1987: Sphere Publishing: 376 p. 1987: Joseph Publishing, London: 352 p., 21 cm. 1988: Dell Publishing, New York: 415 p. Paperback Edition (up to and possibly over 5 printings). 1988: Chivers Publishing, Bath: 552 p. Large Print Edition; 24 cm. Originally published by Joseph Publishing of London. 1989: Dell Publishing, New York: 415 p., 17 cm. New Dell Edition. Reprinted by arrangement with Delacorte Press. 1994: Warner Publishing, London: 376 p. 1994 Little, Brown, London: 376 p.
6 Last date in print?
Fine Things is still in print. The trade cloth binding edition (Delacorte Press, 1987) is listed on "Books in Print" as ACTIVE status. The most recently published edition appears to be Dell Publishing's 1989 second printing paperback [Bibliofind]. There was also a Dell Reissue edition in 1989. [Amazon.com] The international editions are still in print, with much more recent publication dates. For example: Ediciones Grijalbo of Barcelona issued a printing as recently as 1997. Little, Brown of London issued a printing in 1994.
7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)
I was unable to find this information.
8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)
Fine Things had sales of 551,000 in the year 1987.
9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)
After a thorough search through Publisher's Weekly for all months in the years of 1986 and 1987, I could not find any advertisements. Even for the Delacorte ads, I saw no pictures of Fine Things. However, Publishers Weekly did write a "Feature" blurb in a section among other coming fiction. This feature on Fine Things was a short summary of the novel and date of release (Mar. 27, 1987) in the Jan. 30, 1987 edition.
10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available
11 Other promotion
At the end of the Feature blurb in Publisher's Weekly for Mar. 27, 1987, it said: "First serial to Good Housekeeping; major ad/promo; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club Main Selections.
12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A
2 AUDIOTAPE VERSIONS: 1992: Fine Things; narrator, Richard Thomas. Bantam Audio: New York. 2 audio cassettes (180 min.): analog, Dolby processed. Abridged. 1999: The Danielle Steel Value Collection: Fine Things, Jewels, Vanished; narrator, Richard Thomas; narrator, Boyd Gaines. BDD Audio Publishing. Abridged. 3 AUDIOVISUAL PRODUCTIONS: 1990: Danielle Steel's Fine Things, Worldvision Home Video (United States). 1 videocassette (VHS) (ca. 145 min.): sd., col.; 1/2 in. Executive producer, Douglas S. Cramer; teleplay, Peter Lefcourt; director, Tom Moore. Based on the novel by Danielle Steel. Originially produced as a television mition picture. Closed-captioned for the hearing impaired. Not rated. D.W. Moffett, Tracy Pallan, Noley Thornton, Cloris Leachman. 1991, 1996: Danielle Steel's Fine Things, NBC Home Video; Columbia House Video Library, distributor. [New York]: Terre Haute, IN. 1 videocassette (VHS) (ca. 145 min.): sd., col.; 1/2 in. SERIES: The Movie Collection. Executive producer, etc. is same as above. 1997: Danielle Steel's Fine Things, NBC Home Video; Anchor Bay Entertainment. [New York]: Troy, Mich. 1 videocassette (VHS) (ca. 146 min.): sd., col.; 1/2 in. Executive producer, etc. is same as above.
13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A
HUNGARIAN TRANSLATION--A sors kereke: regeny [Fine Things]. Arkadia [Publishing]: Budapest, 1990. 397 p.; 20 cm. KOREAN TRANSLATION--Hana ppunin sarang ul wihan sont'aek [Fine Things]. Ch'anghyon Munhwasa [Publishing]: Soul-si, 1993. 503 p.; 23 cm. KOREAN TRANSLATION--Choun iltul [Fine Things]. Inui [Publishing]: Soul-si, 1991. 606 p.; 23 cm. CHINESE TRANSLATION--Ch'ing tao shen ch'u [Fine Things]. Huang kuan ch'u pan she [Publishing]: T'ai-pei shih, 1987. 392 p.; 21 cm. SPANISH TRANSLATION--El precio del amor [Fine Things]. Editorial Grijalbo [Publishing]: Mexico, D.F., 1988. 449 p.; 20 cm. SPANISH TRANSLATION--El precio del amor [Fine Things]. Ediciones Grijalbo [Publishing]: Barcelona, 1993. 449 p.; 18 cm. FRENCH TRANSLATION--La belle vie [Fine Things]. Presses de la Cite [Publishing]: France, 1989, 1997. 406 p.; 18 cm. POLISH TRANSLATION--Wszystko co najlepsze [Fine Things]. "Ksiaznica" [Publishing]: Katowice, 1993. 342 p.; 21 cm. GERMAN TRANSLATION--Der Preis des Glucks: Roman [Fine Things]. Golmann [Publishing]: Munchen, 1989, 1992. 403 p.; 18 cm.
14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A
The feature blurb in Publishers Weekly of Jan. 30, 1987 indicated "First serial to Good Housekeeping" followed by (March 27).
15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A
As stated by the author herself at Random House's www.daniellesteel.com: "No, I never do sequels. They're an invitation to unfavorable comparison, and I've got too many new stories to tell!" Thus, it is inferred that Fine Things does not have a prequel, either.
Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author
1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)
Fine Things bears autobiographical resemblence to Steel's own life. Research of Steel's own stormy relations with men, marriage, divorce, and childhood all ties in with the story line of Fine Things. Steel uses the narrative voice of a man--Bernie Fine--for the first time in this particular best-selling novel. This decision aligns with her own arrival at peace with the role of men in her personal life. After three previous marriages--two of them kept in secret for years--Ms. Steel finally found happiness with her present husband, John Traina. In analyzing Steel's past, John Traina bears a strong resemblence to Bernie Fine of Fine Things. Bernie Fine, highly powerful Vice President and likely heir to the throne of Wolff's department stores, is as highly touted in San Francisco society as the man who eventually sweeps Steel herself off of her feet--John Traina. Traina, when Steel first met him in San Francisco, was CEO of the Pearl Orient Cruise Line--the first of its kind to visit China after trading with the West was opened by President Nixon. Not unlike Taina, again, is Bernie Fine, who travels all over the world seeking hot new fashions to sell in his own global department store market. In the novel, Bernie Fine revives Elizabeth O'Reilly's faith in men after her stormy past with criminal and con man Chandler Scott. After Scott is sent to prison, the couple is divorced, and Liz and her daughter settle alone in San Francisco. Here, Steel's own biographical information again connects with the story line of Fine Things. Steel's second husband--Danny Zugelder--was a registered sex offender; her third husband--Bill Toth--was charged several times with car robbery. Both accounts of these men match up with the unpredictable, dark-man image that we find in Fine Things' character Chandler Scott. Further, both Traina and Fine meet their respective wives after their own failed realtionships with beautiful women. Bernie Fine meets Liz after having his heart broken by one of the beautiful young models--Isabella--of his department store line-debut fashion show. Isabella leaves Fine for a movie producer with connections to get her to Hollywood. Similarly, Traina's ex-wife Dede Buchanan was a rich Town & Country "deb-of-the-year" cover girl who left him to marry into more money. After three failed marriages, the novelist-to-be Steel found herself in California. Young and raising a little girl all by herself, Steel again resembles Liz O'Reilly of Fine Things. At this point, we also begin to see parallels to Steel's own childhood. Young Jane of Fine Things struggles with many of the difficulties that Steel herself faced as a young child of divorced parents. Steel, like Jane, was only seven when her parents separated in New York in the mid-50s. The only seeming difference here is that Steel was left to be raised by her father, whereas Jane is raised by her mother. However, the story eventually reasserts its autobiographical nature when Liz dies after marrying Bernie, leaving him as the primary caretaker for young Jane. Thus, while Danielle Steel's life appears glamorous and happily-ever-after, all Things were not always Fine with bestselling author Danielle Steel.
Assignment 4: Reception History
1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
The contemporary reaction to Steel's Fine Things is fickle, at best. In the reviews, critics attack her proposterous plots and grammar. In spite of themselves, these same critics eventually always applaud Steel for her sincerity and award-winning characters. It is this effect that Steel has upon readers and critics alike, ultimately enabling her success. The New York Times' review is particularly hard on Steel, and it is riddled with sarcasm. Book reviewer Lucie Prinz writes: "Bernie hires a nanny named--I swear--Mary Pippin." Prinz goes on to comment on the kidnapping of Bernie's step-daughter, Jane: "The child is saved in some 40 pages." Fine Things seems a little to sugar-sweet for Prinz, as she concludes: "Maybe the author wasn't really trying." Try or not, Steel gets away with these things and continues to dominate bestseller lists. The L.A. Times' Meredith Brucker is a bit more forgiving. Brucker is less disturbed by plot than Prinz, but more concerned with Steel's sentences, which "either run on and on haphazardly, or veer off in the middle with startling no sequiturs." Brucker notes Steel's careless word repetitions ("'never' appears four times within three lines.") and her overuse of ellipses, which are carelessly sprinkled throughout the pages. However, Brucker eventually gives in to the 'Steel force' with her ultimately redemptive conclusion: "While many writers form more elegant sentences, few can match Steel's knack for creating lovable characters who hold reader interest. In the case of a soapy Steel novel, the total is definately better than the sum of its parts." Judging by its nine week appearance at the top of the New York Times bestseller list, these are the qualities that appease the most book-buying readers. The critical forecast for Fine Things in the February 6, 1986 issue of Publisher's Weekly also starts out negatively, but takes a turn for the better. PW hypothesizes that "even [Steel's] staunchest fans are bound to find the book's extremes hard to follow." Again, while Steel's plot turns and happy endings are a little hard to take sometimes, her sincerity is always there. PW notes that this genuinity frequently redeems Steel's efforts: "credibility is ebbing fast when the book is salvaged by passages depicting Bernie and Jane's convincing, true-to-life feelings about the death of a loved one." Thus, despite all of Steel's literary shortcomings, her strengths allow people to forgive her easily, and go out to buy her next book. SOURCES: From *Lexis Nexis: (keywords: "Fine Things" and "Danielle Steel") *Meredith Brucker, "FINE THINGS by Danielle Steel." The Los Angeles Times, p. 4. March 8, 1987. *Lucie Prinz, "In Short: Fiction." The New York Times, p.16. April 19, 1987. *Publisher's Weekly. 231:86. February 6, 1987.
2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)
The contemporary reaction to Steel's Fine Things is fickle, at best. In the reviews, critics attack her proposterous plots and grammar. In spite of themselves, these same critics eventually always applaud Steel for her sincerity and award-winning characters. It is this effect that Steel has upon readers and critics alike, ultimately enabling her success. The New York Times' review is particularly hard on Steel, and it is riddled with sarcasm. Book reviewer Lucie Prinz writes: "Bernie hires a nanny named--I swear--Mary Pippin." Prinz goes on to comment on the kidnapping of Bernie's step-daughter, Jane: "The child is saved in some 40 pages." Fine Things seems a little to sugar-sweet for Prinz, as she concludes: "Maybe the author wasn't really trying." Try or not, Steel gets away with these things and continues to dominate bestseller lists. The L.A. Times' Meredith Brucker is a bit more forgiving. Brucker is less disturbed by plot than Prinz, but more concerned with Steel's sentences, which "either run on and on haphazardly, or veer off in the middle with startling no sequiturs." Brucker notes Steel's careless word repetitions ("'never' appears four times within three lines.") and her overuse of ellipses, which are carelessly sprinkled throughout the pages. However, Brucker eventually gives in to the 'Steel force' with her ultimately redemptive conclusion: "While many writers form more elegant sentences, few can match Steel's knack for creating lovable characters who hold reader interest. In the case of a soapy Steel novel, the total is definately better than the sum of its parts." Judging by its nine week appearance at the top of the New York Times bestseller list, these are the qualities that appease the most book-buying readers. The critical forecast for Fine Things in the February 6, 1986 issue of Publisher's Weekly also starts out negatively, but takes a turn for the better. PW hypothesizes that "even [Steel's] staunchest fans are bound to find the book's extremes hard to follow." Again, while Steel's plot turns and happy endings are a little hard to take sometimes, her sincerity is always there. PW notes that this genuinity frequently redeems Steel's efforts: "credibility is ebbing fast when the book is salvaged by passages depicting Bernie and Jane's convincing, true-to-life feelings about the death of a loved one." Thus, despite all of Steel's literary shortcomings, her strengths allow people to forgive her easily, and go out to buy her next book. SOURCES: From *Lexis Nexis: (keywords: "Fine Things" and "Danielle Steel") *Meredith Brucker, "FINE THINGS by Danielle Steel." The Los Angeles Times, p. 4. March 8, 1987. *Lucie Prinz, "In Short: Fiction." The New York Times, p.16. April 19, 1987. *Publisher's Weekly. 231:86. February 6, 1987.
Assignment 5: Critical Analysis
1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)
"She has written 25 novels, each one a best-seller, and is in the Guinness Book of Records for being represented on The New York Times' best-seller list for 381 consecutive weeks with one or more of her books, more than 130 million copies of which are in print" (Hanauer 1). It is just assumed that each of this publishing phenomenon's novels will hit the top of the best-seller lists before the books are even put out on the shelves. Thus, it might seem difficult to pick any one of Steel's works out as her ?best' best seller. However, the figures reveal that Steel's Fine Things is her followings' favorite, as it was her longest running New York Times Bestseller ever, residing for nine weeks at number one, and staying on the list for a total of 26 weeks ("Danielle Steel: Critical Reviews"). There are several factors that I believe to contribute to the all-time bestseller-ship of Fine Things in particular. In terms of the overall competition in the book market, the Steel novels always sell because they are considered ?a sure thing.' Previous satisfaction and familiarity of the Steel name is comforting to book buyers, much like popular brand names you trust when buying new products at the supermarket. The subject matter of Fine Things helps the book to sell because it deals with the contemporaneous issue of cancer. In the 80s, when the book was published, cancer was a much more threatening disease than it is considered to be today. However, Steel's ability to tie timeless, universal issues into her novels ensures that her books will never become dated. Readers of all ages relate to Fine Things' timeless issues of losing a loved one and rebuilding one's life after a loss. All of Steel's novels seem to use this approach, which forces us to examine even closer why Fine Things in particular stands above the rest of Steel's novels. Two things happened for the first time in Fine Things. One, Steel used a male voice as the main protagonist for the first time ever. Quite possibly, this drew male readers into her lure, and women interested in looking at things from a male point of view. Also, for the first time, the large print edition was simultaneously staggered with the first edition printing. Publishers knew that the large print edition would expand Steel's readership base to the elderly and vision impaired. This demographic group always had to wait for a couple of years for the large print edition, and so they could not share in the excitement of a new Steel novel hitting the shelves of their favorite bookstore. "The writer is a commodity in today's celebrity-driven media. Publishers expect their star writers not only to produce but also to promote. But Steel sells without promotion. She doesn't have to do anything she doesn't want to" (Hanauer 6). Yes, simply seeing the Steel name on the cover of a new book is promotion enough for this writer. Fans of Steel's novels snatch up her latest works without having heard its subject matter or a recommendation from a friend. They buy the book because there is little or no risk involved in the purchase. Steel fans know that they will like whatever it is she has produced. And so, every Steel piece is a bestseller. "Steel's publisher knows that her trademark predictability creates predictable results" (Slewinski 1). The name ?Steel' has brand equity much like Dove Soap or Kellogg's. Consumers are much more likely to buy a new deodorant made by Dove than one made by an unknown company. The previous success that the consumer has had with Dove products encourages them to stick with the company. One fan refers to "Danielle Steel" as "the magical name. You keep [reading] them because the last one was so good. I recall ?Zoya.' Oh, I was just blown away by that" (Slewinski 2). The book-buying consumer finds a similar level of trust and comfort in the Steel name. Thus, all Steel novels are going to sell; the test for her is more a matter of internal competition. Which one will become an all-time best seller? The subject matter of Fine Things was instantly appealing in 1987 because it dealt with a very modern and relevant problem: cancer. Because almost everyone knows someone who has struggled with chemotherapy and cancer, the content of the novel becomes easy to empathize with. Further, the easy-to-follow story line almost tricks the reader into learning about cancer. Steel uses professional researchers to detail the information and make it an educational experience for the reader. A Rapport reviewer comments of Steel's subject matter, "In addition to her trademark romances, Steel also confronts serious issues in her books . . . [They are] not only well written but extremely well researched" ("Danielle Steel" 5). By "well written," critics do not mean grammatically correct or worthy of the Booker Prize. "Well-written" in the science of best-selling books means that people will find the books easy and enjoyable to read. Steel's books are 'beach reads,' not labors of intensive academic study. Chicago Tribune Book World critic L. J. Davis says that Steel writes in "the sort of basilisk prose that makes it impossible to tear your eyes from the page even as your brain is slowly [turning] to stone" ("Danielle Steel" 5). Other reviewers, such as a Detroit News writer describes Steel's writing and subject matter as "fun reading. The topic [of which] is timely and socially relevant" ("Danielle Steel" 5). Steel's researcher, Nancy Eisenbarth, finds the hard facts on Steel's chosen topic?which is cancer in Fine Things?and Steel weaves an easy-to-read story out of the background information. "Steel insists that every detail be correct, down to the perfume a historical figure might have worn or the name of a club where he or she might have gone," says Eisenbarth (Edwards 2). With lovable characters and gripping story lines behind the intricate passages of medical jargon in Fine Things, readers are able to easily learn about issues that their own friends and family are grappling with. Thus, in Steel's work, it is not surprising to find run-on sentences and fragments followed by intricate passages like: "I think a bone scan may tell us more of what we want to know.' He explained the procedure to them, and he had already made arrangements for her at the hospital. It was a simple test, involving an injection of radioactive isotopes to show lesions in the skeleton" (Steel 168). Steel's Fine Things makes cancer more understandable?almost like a ?Cancer for Idiots.' Steel turns highbrow information into layman's material. One might worry that advances in cancer research and displacement of fear unto AIDS of the 90s might take away from 90s and millennium readers' ability to empathize with the content of Fine Things. However, the expertise of Steel's craft is that she safeguards against the possibility of this happening. Whether the life-threatening force is the bubonic plague, cancer, AIDS or famine, the pain of losing a loved one is universal. Executive Producer of Steel's movie version of Fine Things commented that "Her appeal also is that her themes and plots deal with such basics. They deal with birth, marriage, death, falling in love and out of love. The problems are so universal that they work everywhere and the people in her books are not all rich and glitzy. This isn't Jackie Collins or Judith Krantz and the audience isn't getting ?Dynasty' again" (Hanauer 2). These timeless issues ensure that Steel's novels will not become dated. Ironically, Steel is quite Shakespeare-esque in her ability to maintain contemporary pertinence across the boards, between fads and passing decades. It is often this ability to handle these issues of life and death so eloquently that salvages Steel's efforts from harsh critics. Regarding Fine Things, Publisher's Weekly concluded: "credibility's ebbing fast when the book is salvaged by passages depicting Bernie and Jane's convincing, true-to-life feelings about the death of a loved one" ("Fine Things" 86). In Fine Things, Steel relates the pains that Bernie and Jane share over the death of Liz with remarkable compassion. The scene in which Bernie tells his mother that Liz has died is particularly remarkable: "'Good . . . good . . . I . . .'" He didn't know how to handle it, what one said, what one did . . . he wanted to cry and scream, and kick his feet and bring her back, and she would never come back to him again. Never. ?I can't . . .' But he could. He had to. He had to. He had two children to think about now. And he was alone. They were all he had now" (Steel 217). Thus, while critics might jab at Steel's inappropriate grammatical use of ellipses here, Steel trades this in for an excellent conveyance of Bernie's breathlessness, shock, and torment. Steel gets to the root of human nature and frailty of the human condition in passages like these. So, while her older novels might not contain subject material quite so pertinent to the day, the basic human emotions that she illustrates so vividly are pertinent to any time period or audience. Readers of Fine Things in particular are able to relate to the timeless issues of losing a loved one and rebuilding one's life after a loss. However, there is one remarkable difference between Steel's Fine Things and her other novels. For the first time, Steel uses a male as the main protagonist. In the past, her readers were limited to mainly all-female audiences. For example, NBC regularly airs Danielle Steel movies when other stations are showing sporting events, because they know that their viewers would be an all-female constituency anyway: "The Peacock Network has regularly introduced viewers to Steel's storytelling, using the female-friendly films to counter-program sporting events on the other networks. The plan worked phenomenally well" (Slewinski 1). The use of the male main protagonist, Bernie Fine, in Fine Things gives a remote hope to Steel's novels opening up to a larger audience?one that includes males. John Traina, Steel's husband, has "encouraged her to write more about men in order to lure in male readers" (Troy 5). Passages in Fine Things come off as more masculine and identifiable to men: "Bernard never lost sight of the fact that Paul had given him his career. He had encouraged him to go to business school, and opened countless doors at Wolff's to him. More than that, he had trusted him, and given him a vote of confidence at times when no one else would have dared attempt some of Bernie's schemes, and it was no secret that, with no sons of his own, he had been grooming Bernie to be number one for years. He offered Bernie a cigar as the younger man waited to hear what he had to say" (Steel 31). This new, male approach entices women readers who may have not liked Steel's previous, all-female approach. Also, it draws in male readers who more easily identify with the male condition. On the publishing side, another exceptional circumstance occurred during the initial publishing of Fine Things. In the old days, it took a year or two for a title to come out in large print," says Arlene Chan, branch head of Metropolitan Toronto Library's Traveling Branch. "Now, a handful are done simultaneously" (Kucherawy 1). In 1987, however, Bantam Doubleday Dell published Fine Things in large print at the same time as the first edition. The large print edition sold between 15,000 and 20,000 copies. "Historically, we sold separate rights. But we realized this was an enormous and growing market in libraries. In retail, it was slow, but growing steadily" (Kucherawy 2). In 1990, Bantam Doubleday Dell began an official program to start releasing large print editions simultaneously with their first editions (Kucherawy 2). Thus, Fine Things is a historical book in the publishing industry, as it led the way towards what is now an important factor in the publishing marketplace. As the graying of America begins, and computers become a more pivotal part of everyday life, large print books will see an increase in demand. "But the elderly and visually impaired are not the only market for large-print books. Isabel Geffner of Bantam, Doubleday, Dell says young people with good vision who may spend all day working in front of a computer screen find that large print books are easier to read" (Kucherawy 2). Thus, along with possibly an inclusion of male readers, Fine Things was and is more accessible to the elderly, visually impaired, and frequent computer users. All of these industry-side factors contribute to the bestseller-ship of Fine Things, along with the Steel name, the contemporaneous content matter, and Steel's timeless compassion. Danielle Steel is an especially interesting bestseller to analyze because of the sheer volume of her novel production. Sometimes turning out 2 novels a year, it is amazing that any one book might stand out as her all-time bestseller. Fine Things, however, had all of the ingredients to rise to number one. Fine Things provides Steel with a benchmark?a barometer?against which she may constantly measure the success of her ensuing novels. WORKS CITED: "Danielle Steel." Contemporary Authors: 5. Gale Literary Databases. Online. Virgo. 8 Apr. 2000. http://www.galenet.com "Danielle Steel: Critical Reviews." Amazon.com. Online. 17 Apr. 2000. http://www.amazon.com Edwards, Cliff. "She Puts Hints of Truth in Danielle Steel's Fiction." Los Angeles Times 10 Oct. 1988: View; Part 5; Page 4; Column 1; View Desk. Lexis-Nexis. 21 Mar. 2000. "Fine Things." Publisher's Weekly 6 Feb 1987: 86. Hanauer, Joan. "Danielle Steel." U.P.I. 29 Mar. 1991: Entertainment. Lexis-Nexis. 21 Mar. 2000. Kucherawy, Dennis. "Large-Print Tomes Suffering Growing Pains." The Toronto Star 5 Dec. 1991: Feature; Pg. J8. Lexis-Nexis. 7 Apr. 2000. Slewinsky, Christy. "Romance Made of Steel." Daily News 1 Sept. 1996: New York Vue; Pg. 29. Lexis-Nexis. 7 Apr. 2000. Steel, Danielle. Fine Things. New York: Delacorte, 1987. Troy, Carol. "The Private Life of Danielle Steel." The Gazette (Montreal) 29 Dec. 1991: Entertainment: Showcase; Pg. F1/BREAK. Lexis-Nexis. 4 Apr. 2000.
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