A Good Woman
Delacorte Press, Oct 2008, $27.00
The Worthington family is at the top of Fifth Ave and Newport society. The patriarch is an affluent banker; his wife is a leader of the upper crust; and their two children are highly regarded. Everything changes when the Titanic goes down in 1912 as the patriarch and the son die in the tragedy leaving behind nineteen years old Annabelle and her mom to grieve their loss.
A banking colleague of her late dad Josiah Millbank kindly offers marriage to Annabelle; she accepts. Two years later having never made love, Josiah informs his young wife that he has syphilis and demands a divorce because he wants to be with his male lover. Annabelle says no so Josiah files for a divorce on the grounds of adultery. Everyone assumes the kind banker is the victim leaving Annabelle a pariah. She goes to Paris to start over hoping to become a doctor based on her volunteer work at Ellis Island.
Annabelle makes the historical tale fun to read as her strength shines through even when her reputation is unfairly destroyed. The plight of women in high society just prior to WW I comes into deep focus by the way Annabelle’s peers react to first the Titanic tragedy, then her marriage, and finally the accusations. Fans will enjoy Danielle Steele’s fine early twentieth century saga of a woman who could quote Sinatra’s That’s Life because Annabelle knows that “Some people get their kicks, Stompin' on a dream” but she also would sing “Each time I find myself, flat on my face, I pick myself up and get back in the race”.