Image of The Award: A Novel


Image of The Award: A Novel

Since the 80s, Steel’s legions of fans know what they want, and she delivers — this time with both a powerful WWII story and a family drama centering on mother-daughter relationships. With simple prose, Steel illuminates worlds of danger, glamour, tragedy, triumph and the strength of family love. Her stories are involving, brimming with details of fabulous places and famous people. Though not always thought-provoking, they are quick and easy reads that leave readers satisfied because no matter the sorrow, her empowered heroines triumph.

For years, Gaëlle de Barbet’s granddaughter has badgered French officials to present Gaëlle with a well-deserved French Medal of Honor for her work with the Resistance in WWII. At 95, Gaëlle will be recognized, but the honor comes with its own issues. In 1940, at the start of the German occupation, Gaëlle watches her best friend, Rebekah Feldmann, and her family, dragged away to be deported. That is  a defining moment for Gaëlle, who, after her father and brother her killed, begins ferrying Jewish children to safety — a difficult task when the German’s  are occupying  her home. Then the commandant asks Gaëlle to help him save precious art work. Her mission is dangerous, but highly successful. However, when the war is over, Gaëlle is marked as a collaborator and traitor. With her shorn hair and ruined reputation, she heads for Paris where fate sends her to Dior’s doorstep. Her striking looks make her the perfect model. On a trip to New York, she meets and marries the man of her dreams. There is motherhood and happiness ahead. But her husband’s sudden death compels Gaëlle to return to France where she manages a small museum in honor of Holocaust victims and where she once again finds love. However, her eldest daughter’s hostility turns into an estrangement that dampens Gaëlle’s happiness. It isn’t until Gaëlle’s courage is recognized that mother and daughter are able to find a resolution. (DELACORTE. Nov., 336 pp., $28.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin