Friday, 31 July 2015

Destiny - Sally Beauman

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A typical beach read full of twists and turns.

I had read rave reviews about the book. Years ago, I picked the it and then discarded it, hoping to go back to it someday.

Now when I saw the book in a charity shop, it seemed the right time to see if the reviews held up to it.  This book came out in 2003 and the writer Sally Beauman apparently won a lot of praise (and money) for the book and having read all that, it was time for the truth.


This is the story of Helene and Edouard two lovers who are destined to be with each other. They meet and decide to be together but fate intervenes and it is a long time before they get back together.

Edouard is a French aristocrat born into money and at the helm of a jewellery empire. Helene born into poverty makes her way out of it by becoming an actress.

However, there is a host of characters who are the reason why they meet and then separate. The story takes us through their childhoods, their different upbringings and the qualities and circumstances that shaped their personalities.

Beauman introduces a lot of subplots that keeps the story connected and going. It is interesting how she lays out this plot that spans during the world wars and its aftermath and places her characters in the post war era.

What works:

  • The story is designed to shock with some elaborate sex scenes and Beauman revels in it. However, to give her credit, it adds to the story and the characters. 
  • The characters come from all classes of society and cultures. Beauman is as comfortable describing characters in the rural pockets of America as she is talking about the cream of French society. Credit to her for describing it well.
  • It is an ambitious novel spanning decades. However at some point the timeline especially the time when Helene and Edouard are away from each other, seems a bit too short a span for all the twists and turns occuring in the story.

What doesn't:

  • It comes across as a raunchy novel designed to purely shock and entertain. It is commercial through and through and though many would argue against that. I was hoping to get something more out of it and did not.
  • There are scandolous elements to it which must have raised a lot of eyebrows and contributed to its popularity but as said earlier, they seem formulaic to create interest in the book.

In a nutshell, it is a typical soap opera-like-kind-of-a-read. Apparently, this was a first novel and Beauman went on to better ones like Dark Angel. The more popular one was the sequel to Rebecca, called Rebecca's Tale which also got some great reviews.

Destiny is an average read. Go for it, if soap opera type plots are your thing.

If not, there are better books out there.

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