|Erika Karnaszewski||Steel, Danielle: Wings|
|Assignment 1: Bibliographic Description|
|1. First Edition Publication Information||Steel, Danielle. Wings. New York, New York: Delacorte Press, Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., 1994.
Delacorte Press and Danielle Steel both hold the copyrights to Wings.
This book was simultaneously published in Canada.
Sources: Inspection of 1st edition, www.bibliofind, www.galenet.com, Worldcat, RLIN
|2. First Edition in Cloth, Paper, or Both?||The first American edition is published in greyish blue trade cloth binding with a dust jacket.
Source: Gaskell, RLIN, Worldcat
|3. Image of Cover Art||A13191000412114325.jpg|
|4. Pagination||202 leaves, pp. 2-2628-33[34-35]36-4850-61[62-63]64-7678-8890-103[104-105]106-126128-133[134-135]136-150152-183[184-185]186-199[200-201]202-221[222-223]224-249[250-251]252-269[270-271]272-296298-331[332-333]334-347[348-349]350-362364-379[380-381]382-400
Source: Inspection of 1st edition
|5. Edited and/or Introduced?||The text is not edited or introduced, but there is a poem on the page directly before the start of the novel which reads:
To the Ace of my heart,|the pilot of my dreams...|the joy of my life,|the quiet place I go to|in the dark of night|the bright morning sun|of my soul|at dawn...|the bright shining star|in my sky,|to my love,|to my heart,|to my all,|beloved Popeye,|with all my heart and love,|always,|Olive.
Also, the first leaf of the text contains the title |WINGS| on the recto side. On the verso side the publisher lists 33 previously published books by Danielle Steel, not including Wings.
Source: Inspection of 1st edition
|6. Illustrated?||There are no illustrations found in this novel.|
|8. General Appearance||The book measures 24*16 cm. with the text covering 18*11 cm. on each page. This creates the following margins: 2 1/2 cm. on top, 2 cm. on the left and right sides, and 3 cm. on the bottom. On the chapter pages the text begins 13 4/5 cm. down the page. The first letter of the page is in a much larger point size than the rest of the paragraph. At close to 4 cm. down the page the word |CHAPTER| is centered in a bold serif font with the number of the chapter in a larger bold point size. The text is a large serif font of 101R. This creates exceptionally easy to read pages because the large font is extremely clear and contains no smudges. The first leaf and the title page are both written in an extremely large, black, bold sans serif font. The verso side of the title page is written in a smaller point size of the serif font used throughout the rest of the novel. The cover of the book contains Danielle Steel's signature imprinted near the top center in gold gilt and the text on the spine is also imprinted in gold gilt. The book has a very attractive dust jacket and is extremely well printed.
Sources: Gaskell, Inspection of 1st edition
|9. Image of Sample Chapter Page||A19191000207112729.jpg|
|10. Description of Paper||The paper used in the book is wove and feels slightly coarse and rough. It is cream-colored and the extremely fine cndition of the book indicates that this is not from wear. My edition is in very fine condition and the pages are in seemingly perfect shape. There are no watermarks, tears, or creases on any of the pages or anywhere in the book. The right side of the pages of the text are somewhat ragged and are not cleanly cut to form a smooth right side. There is only one different paper stock used, and this is that of the end papers. The book is holding up extremely well, but this may be because it is virtually unmarked and possibly unused.
Sources: Gaskell, Lebarre, Roberts and Etherington, Inspection of 1st edition
|11. Description of Binding||The binding is of a greyish blue calico-texture cloth that is not embossed with moderate pale greyish saturation. The rest of the book is covered in a cream-colored paper with flecks of light blue. Danielle Steel's signature is imprinted in gold gilt near the top of the cover. |DANIELLE STEEL WINGS| is stamped in a large sans serif font in gold gilt vertically on the spine of the binding. |Delacorte Press| is also stamped horizontally in a much smaller print in gold at the bottom of the spine with the Delacorte Press symbol directly above. There is nothing written on the back cover. The end papers are of a thick, smooth, cream-colored stock with flecks of light blue.
The dust jacket is gold, silver, and several shades of blue. It has a 5 cm gold border around the top and spine with |DANIELLE STEEL| in light blue on the front and |DS| in the same light blue on the spine. The rest of the cover and spine is light blue and gradually darkens to a moderate blue towards the bottom of the jacket. The cover has |WINGS| written in gold in the center and a gold and silver propeller directly below. The spine has |DANIELLE STEEL WINGS| in gold vertically as well as |Delacorte Press| horizontally in black at the bottom. The Delacorte Press symbol is directly above the name in black. The back of the dust jacket contains a very large color picture of Danielle Steel wearing a leather bomber jacket and she is standing in front of a red biplane. |DANIELLE STEEL| is written in a black in a smaller point size of the sans serif font used on the cover. This is directly centered below the photo.
Source: Gaskell, Roberts and Etherington, Inspection of 1st edition
|12. Title Page Transcription||Recto:
DANIELLE STEEL|WINGS|Delacorte Press|
Published by|Delacorte Press|Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.|1540 Broadway|New York, New York 10036|Copyright 1994 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 Pub-|lisher, except where permitted by law.|The trademark Delacorte Press is registered in the U.S. Patent and|Trademark Office.|The jacket format and design of this book are protected trade|dresses and trademarks of Dell Publishing, a division of Bantam|Doubleday Publishing Group, Inc.|Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data|Steel, Danielle.|Wings/by Danielle Steel.|p. cm.|ISBN 0-385-30605-9|ISBN 0-385-31295-4 (large print ed.)|ISBN 0-385-31381-0 (limited ed.)|I.Title.|PS3569.T33828W5 1994|813'.54--dc20 93-51253|CIP|Manufactured in the United States of America|Published simultaneously in Canada|December 1994|10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1|BVG
Source: Gaskell, Inspection of 1st edition
|13. Image of Title Page||A113191000207112729.jpg|
|14. Manuscript Holdings||Danielle Steel holds the manuscript as of February 28, 2000.
|15. Other||My book has no discerning marks or factors--rather it seems to be in perfect condition.|
|Assignment 2: Publication History|
|1. Other Editions:||In 1994, Delacorte Press also published a large print edition, a book club edition, a large print book club edition, and a limited edition. Delacorte published the large print book club edition in 1994 with the general note that it was "prepared especially for Doubleday Book & Music Clubs, Inc."
Wings. New York, N.Y. : Delacorte Press, c1994. ISBN:0385306059 (351 p. (Book Club ed.); 22 cm.)
Wings. New York, N.Y. : Delacorte Press, 1994. ISBN:0385306059 (711 p. (large print book club ed.) ; 22 cm.)
General note: "Prepared especially for Doubleday Book & Music Clubs, Inc."
Wings. New York, N.Y. : Delacorte Press, 1994. ISBN:0385312954 (631 p. (large print) ; 24 cm.)
Wings. New York, N.Y. : Delacorte Press, 1994. ISBN:0385313810 (408 p. (limited ed.))
|2. Image of Cover Art||A22191000409231415.jpg|
|4. First Edition printings or impressions?||In searching a multitude of booksellers and internet databases, I did not find any notation on a first edition copy of the book being from a printing that was not the first. Therefore, as far as I know, there is only one first edition printing of each impression. Because there exists the original Hardcover first edition, a limited edition, a book club edtion, a large print edition, and a large book club edition, I believe there are 5 impressions of the first edition by Delacorte Press.
On Amazon.com, a synopsis of the book includes a figure of 1,100,000 for the first printing.
|5. Editions from other publishers?||Other editions include:
Wings. New York : Dell Pub., 1995 1994 (452 p. ; 18 cm.) ISBN:0440217512 (Mass Market Paperback)
Wings. New York: Dell Pub., 1995 (464 pg.) (Mass Paperback Reprint-Reader's Copy?)
Wings. London : Bantam, c1995. (400 p.)
Wings. New York : Dell Pub., 1995 1994 (General note: Braille. Los Altos, Calif. : Braille Transcription Project of Santa Clara County, North Branch. 13 v. (755 p.)
Wings. Demco Media, 1995 ISBN: 0606100741
Wings. Smithmark Publishers, Incorporated, November 1996 ISBN: 0765103850
The Mass Market Paperback edition looks essentially the same as the hardcover first edition. The only difference is that above the large |DANIELLE STEEL| in pale blue on the top center, is written in a small black font |AMERICA'S #1 BESTSELLER|. The |#1| is in a larger pale blue font. Below the thick gold segment on the top, in a small black font it reads: |FIRST TIME IN PAPERBACK!|. I did not find any copies of the British or the Demco Media editions to compare the difference in appearance of the books.
|6. Last date in print?||According to Books in Print, Wings still has an active record as of February 28, 2000.|
|7. Total copies sold?||Publisher's Weekly did not indicate the total number of copies sold at anytime throughout 1994-1995. I emailed Danielle Steel to find this information, but she stated that she could not answer any questions about sales figures.|
|8. Sales by year?||The 1995 Bowker Annual cites Wings as having done $1,225,00 in 1994. It was #7 in the Fiction Top 15 of 1994. Wings remained on the Publisher's Weekly Hardcover Fiction Bestsellers list for 8 weeks starting on November 28, 1994.|
|9. Advertising copy:||There were no advertisements or other promotions of Danielle Steel's Wings in any issue of Publishers Weekly from 1994 or 1995. Even though there were ads by Delacorte Press and Dell Publishing for upcoming books, none of Danielle Steel's books were advertised in this time frame. (January 1994-December 1995)
On Amazon.com, I did come across a figure of $1,000,000 for ad/promo of the book.
|11. Other promotion?||No advertisements were found.|
|12. Performances in other media?||There are no performances in other media. Although the majority of Danielle Steel's books are put on audiotape, I did not find any bookseller or internet database where Wings was found on audiotape.|
|13. Translations?||Danielle Steel has many foreign publishers/agencies. According to her webpage, her books are published in Brazil, Indonesia, the British Commonwealth, Israel, Bulgaria, Italy, Catalonia, Japan, China (including Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macao), Korea, the Czech Republic, Latin America and Mexico, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Poland, France, Portugal, Germany, Romania, Greece, Russia, Holland, the Slovak Republic, Hungary, Spain, Iceland, Sweden, and Turkey.
Translations of Wings include:
Kryl'¥i`a. Moskva: Izd-vo AST, 1999
I. Tëai-pei shih :[Tëai-pei hsien] Pan-chëiao shih : Kuo chi tsëun wen këushu tien ;Fa hsing tai li shang Chin te tëu shu shih yeh yu hsien kung ssu,
Plein ciel. Paris : Presses de la Cite, 1995
ParvØaz. TihrØan : Nashr-i PaykØan, 1998
Volar. Barcelona : Plaza & JanÈs, 1997, (4. ed.)
Volar. Barcelona : Plaza & JanÈs, 1997, (3. ed.)
Volar. Barcelona : Plaza & JanÈs, 1996 1995 (pbk.)
Asas. Rio de Janeiro: Record, 1996
Sarang ¸i nalgae. S*oul : Kory*ow*on, 1995
Y¸n shang lien chë¸. Hsiang-kang : Huang kuan chëu pan she (Hsiang-kang) yu hsien kungssu, 1996
Volar. Mexico, D.F. : Grijalbo, 1995
Volar. Barcelona : Plaza & Janes, 1995 (1.ed.)
Kenafayim. Tel Aviv : Shalgi, 1995.
Volar. Barcelona : Plaza & JanÈs Editores, 1998. (5 ed.)
Y¸n shang lien chë¸. 880-03 Hsiang-kang : Huang kuan chëu pan she (Hsiang-kang) yu hsien kung ssu, 1996.
|14. Serialization?||Wings is not serialized.|
|15. Sequels or Prequels?||Wings does not have any sequels or prequels.|
|Assignment 3: Brief Biography|
|[For a broader biography of Danielle Steel, see Selena Stellute’s entry on Steel’s Mixed Blessings]
Though she prided herself on leading a very private personal life, Danielle Steel’s secrecy was shattered in 1994 with the release of an unauthorized biography by Bane and Benet, The Lives of Danielle Steel: The Unauthorized Biography of America’s #1 Best-Selling Author. Danielle Steel’s 5 marriages and divorces have left many asking the author what she could have possibly seen in these men, among which were two convicted felons.
As an 18-year-old and New York debutante, Danielle Steel married Claude-Eric Lazard, a French banker who was eight years older than her (Newsmakers 1999-Galenet). They married on September 25, 1965 and her first child was born, a daughter Beatrix, when she was 20. Lazard and Steel separated in 1970. Steel moved to California in 1973 and fell in love with Danny Zugelder. They spent a lot of time together until Zugelder was sent back to prison in 1974 for rape and assault. She married him in 1975 while he was still in prison, but filed for divorce in 1977. Steel met husband number 3, William George “Bill” Toth in 1977 when she hired him to help her move. A recovering heroin addict, Toth was also a convict who had served time for possession of stolen property. They married on April 15, 1978, the day after her divorce from Zugelder became final (Galenet). Her son Nicholas was born on May 1, 1978 and Danielle began to create her image for the press, posing for exotic pictures and keeping her troubled marriage a secret. Toth urged her to print her books in hardcover, and thus The Ring, 1980, was her first book published by Delacorte Press instead of its paperback line, Dell Publishing.
Danielle Steel has dubbed her fourth marriage to John Triana in 1981 as her “perfect life”(Kennedy 32). Her huge, merged family grew even more with the birth of five children in five years: Samantha, Victoria, Vanessa, Zara, and Maximillian, in addition to Triana’s sons Trevor and Todd. Steel stated to Glenn Plaskin in Family Circle, “I don’t delegate raising the children to them,”(Galenet) meaning her nanny, housekeeper, cook, secretary, and baby nurse. Steel attributes this fourth failed marriage to the publication of the unauthorized biography. She told Dana Kennedy in an interview for Entertainment Weekly that her marriage “cracked because Triana, who already knew about her ex-husbands, felt ‘humiliated’ when his wife’s past became public, and blamed her”(Kennedy 32). Before its release in 1994, Steel filed a lawsuit, demanding that the authors “surrender confidential court custody documents that might cause embarrassment to her (then) 15-year-old son, Nicholas, in whose name the suit was filed”(O’Brien 13). The suit was thrown out, but Steel claims that the book “absolutely ruined my life…I had two indiscretions in my youth and they came back to haunt me…I’m very religious…which is why I married those two morons instead of just sleeping with them”(Galenet). Triana and Steel separated in 1996 and later divorced. Steel’s fifth marriage to Thomas Perkins, a venture capitalist in May of 1997 ended sometime in 1999.
Though 1994, the year of publication of Wings brought an end to her “perfect life,” the year was not a total loss. While the norm to have a book on the bestseller list, Publisher’s Weekly reported that December 12, 1994 was the first week ever for Danielle Steel to have two hardcovers on the bestseller list simultaneously: The Gift and Wings. (Maryles 17). PW also claimed that if it charted the top 20 bestsellers on the mass market list, Vanished would have made three at one time (17).
|According to most critics, Wings, much like Danielle Steel’s other novels, fits the typical prescriptive format of her works. Most reviews of Wings begin with the usual line that Steel’s fans will once again not be surprised; for example, Dawn L. Anderson’s review from Library Journal begins “Steel has cranked out another predictable melodrama…the rest is fairly predictable but libraries should expect a huge demand for this” (Anderson). Most critics in general wonder at the way in which Steel’s books are so acclaimed by her readership as great works of fiction. For example, although Wings is not highly respected by popular critics, the readers who logged onto Amazon.com gave the book 5 stars, its highest rating. On Barnes & Noble on-line, bn.com, the readers gave the book 3 stars, which is still a fairly good review. An article from Contemporary Popular Writers states, “Steel typically receives raves from critics who enjoy light, easy romance stories. These reviewers tend to appreciate her storytelling abilities and her talent for creating intriguing characters…but some reviewers of Steel’s writings have used words like “brain-dead” to describe her plots”(Galenet). Similarly, another Galenet article from the Encyclopedia of World Biography on Steel sums up the response of critics in the same light:
While Steel can lay claim to one of the largest readerships in popular fiction, she is anything but a favorite among critics. Even when reviewers acknowledge that Steel is a commercial writer who does not pretend to write serious literature, they seem compelled to point out what they see as major weaknesses in her novels: bad writing, shallow characterization, preposterous plot twists, unconvincing dialogue, and rigid adherence to the “poor little rich girl” formula. Her novels are also faulted as being unrealistic because they focus on the lives of the wealthy and privileged. Critics reserve their harshest comments for Steel’s prose style, which is generally considered to be sloppy and careless…While some critics would might prefer to dismiss Steel without comment, her enormous popularity makes her impossible to ignore”(Galenet).
In much the same way in which critics respond to all of Steel’s works, Wings received a similar introduction. Stuart Whitwell of Booklist states, “Romance takes second place in this story about a young woman whose real love is for airplanes and flying. Steel fans won’t need to be told that she is, of course, a natural or that flying is going to be the cause of much of the novel’s sadness, but the author does a good job of capturing the intense pleasure flying brings to (mostly) men and (some) women; the technical stuff –dry stick landings, how to recover from an engine stall, and so on—is quite convincing to a nonflier. But there are three engines to this narrative: the danger of flying, the danger and seduction of glamour, and the struggle of a woman to find and assert herself in a man’s world. These last two themes are, routinely, part of the Steel formula, but the last is noticeably prominent here…less emotional and more adventurous than recent Steel novels, this is yet a page-turner from beginning to end” (Whitwell).
A constant on the Publisher’s Weekly Bestsellers List for 8 weeks, PW seems to give the novel its best review: “Romantic triangles are Steel’s forte, this narrative [Wings], set mostly at the brink of WWII, finds her in familiar territory…after a slow start that’s bogged down by excess background information, the narrative takes off, with a mix of colorful characters bringing the heady early days of aviation to life. Though the ending is predictable, Steel’s fans wouldn’t have it any other way; she knows how to make her writing fly to the top of the bestseller lists.” (Wings 60).
On the other hand, Kirkus Reviews offers an extremely sarcastic reception of Wings. It satirically states, “From the Steel workshop, the romances of a good-hearted, gorgeous girl from Illinois farm country who leaves Dad’s tiny airport to become a glamorous aviatrix between World Wars I and II. There’s necessary reference to the workings of planes but nothing to tax the reader bent on romance in this tale…For Steel fans, soothingly predictable; for others, deadly as a wait in baggage claims”(Amazon.com).
All in all, Danielle Steel’s followers have received Wings with great approval. Critics are either very harsh towards Steel or commend her for her success, but always seem to comment on the predictability of all of her novels, including Wings.
There are no parodies or characatures of this book.
|Because of its publication in October of 1994, there is no subsequent reception of Wings.|
|In December of 1994, Danielle Steel published her third bestseller of the year, and only furthered the notion that any work she produces will soon become a bestseller. Wings, the story of small town girl Cassie O’Malley who beats all odds to become a renowned woman pilot on the brink of WWII, seems somewhat out of the realm for Steel. Much of the story centers around Cassie’s extreme admiration of Amelia Earhart, and the way in which she is eventually convinced to attempt an around-the-world flight on the anniversary of Earhart’s tragic flight. The onset of WWII forces Cassie to switch to a Pacific Ocean tour, and at the end of the novel she ends up near Pearl Harbor in the middle of a war zone. The historical twist to the plot differs greatly from Steel’s works near the time of the publication of Wings, but the summer of 1994 was a time when Earhart and remembrances of the devastating A-bomb were certainly pertinent in the media.
Though Steel’s books consistently receive less than favorable reviews from critics because of poor grammar, non-sequiturs, and an infallibly consistent plot line, Wings possesses a multitude of qualities which make it an unmistakable contender for an American Bestseller. Its genre as a historical romance novel, the story of a woman asserting herself in a man’s world in a time when women’s liberation was so apposite, the envied persona of Danielle Steel, the nearly identical appearance in cover art of Steel’s novels, her incredible readership of an excess of a million people, the fact that the book is simultaneously published in hardback, large print, and limited editions, not to mention subsequent publications in paperback, Braille, book club editions, and 15 different known translations, and its easy to read nature make Wings inevitably attractive to readers. It is also uncanny that TNT broadcasted a highly publicized TV movie starring Diane Keaton as Amelia Earhart on June 12, 1994. This movie was so highly regarded that the Smithsonian Institution held a special mega-screen preview at the National Air and Space Museum with an introductory lecture by Doris Rich, the author of Amelia Earhart: A Biography. Additionally, in as early as August of 1994, the Smithsonian Institution was in the middle of the most heated debate over an exhibit in history, “The Last Act: The Atomic Bomb and the End of WWII.” New York University history professor, Susan Ware, had just published Still Missing: Amelia Earhart and the Search for Modern Feminism, a book that caused an incredible stir among critics. Additionally, the Ninety-Nines, an organization devoted to women pilots, announced the start of an extensive fund raising, restoration, and preservation effort towards the Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum. Lastly, Women in Aviation, International, an organization with the purpose of encouraging women to seek opportunities in aviation, was formally established in 1994. The extensive media captivation with Amelia Earhart near the time of the publication of Wings only furthered the success of this novel, and greatly minimizes the seemingly random nature of this topic. Danielle Steel can no longer write a book without its guaranteed success as a bestseller—society has enthralled itself with her glamorous persona and formulaic novels.
Wings, as well as all of Steel’s books, belong to a genre of unwavering interest in American society. The romance novel has long been a staple on bestseller lists; the fact that all 3 of Steel’s 1994 publications: Accident, The Gift, and Wings, all appeared on the yearly bestsellers list and are all romance novels furthers this notion(Bestsellers database). Additionally, the majority of the Fiction bestsellers in general were romance novels; Waller’s Bridges of Madison County, Crichton’s Disclosure, and Sheldon’s Nothing Lasts Forever are just a few examples. Several of the books on the Nonfiction bestsellers list also deal with romance and male-female relationship issues: Gray’s Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus and Reiser’s Couplehood are examples of this. Clearly, 1994, as well as the 1990s in general, was a period when society took a great interest in romance and relationship issues.
Wings takes place from 1918-1942 and much of the focus is on World War II. The historical twist on this romance novel only makes it more appealing to a broader age range. While it retains the lure of a romance novel, older generations could possibly take a deeper interest in this particular novel because it deals with issues they had to personally face during wartime. Due to the fact that romance novels fare exceptionally well as bestsellers, it can be concluded that society is looking for entertainment that allows one to escape to a world of passion and love. Wings also possesses the “Horatio Alger paradigm” of a person working their way up and women asserting themselves in a man’s world. Cassie O’Malley definitely does this; she disavows her engagement to her small town high school sweetheart and moves to California to pursue her flying dream. The addition of her falling in love with her father’s best friend, Nick Galvin, a man twice her age, makes the drama even more suspenseful. When Nick leaves to help the war effort in England, Cassie is disillusioned into marrying her boss, Desmond Williams, a cruel businessman who is only out to use Cassie’s persona to his own benefit. After nearly losing her life in a plane crash, Cassie divorces Desmond and is reunited with Nick Galvin in England, a scene which happens extremely fast and is based on much coincidence. Though this book, like all of Steel’s books, is criticized for the formulaic ending with the heroine being reunited with the hero, this is clearly what the general public wants to see. This book is a way to escape to a romance and a seemingly perfect start of a much-awaited love life. In fact, this love story formula is so sought after by Steel’s fans that Publishers Weekly mentions that this will no doubtedly be missed in its review of The Gift:
“Steel deviates sharply from her usual romance formula in this tender is sometimes sappy story…Nice as it is, however, her fans will no doubt crave for the day when Steel returns to her tried-and-true one-woman/two-great-loves potboilers”(Publishers Weekly book reviews)
The subsequent publishing of Wings was certainly excitedly received by her fans. Publishers Weekly exactly explains the nature of Wings when describing Steel’s novels, summing up what society will make into a bestseller.
Danielle Steel’s Persona
The 1980s and 90s have embarked upon a new category of bestsellers—the author’s name is enough to ensure the success of a novel. Stephen King, Micheal Crichton, Mary Higgins Clark, Judith Krantz, and Danielle Steel are a few of the multitude of authors with an enormous following. In searching newspapers and magazines for articles on Danielle Steel, it is remarkable just how many articles are available which deal with her personal life(Galenet). Though Steel has been married 5 times and her marriage dealings are a main topic of writing, there is still a definite societal interest in her as a person. Her personal website, www.daniellesteel.com, can attest to the fact that people are interested in learning about her interests and daily activities. With such links as “Meet Danielle Steel,” “Scrapbook,” and seasonal letters addressed to her fans with tidbits of her family life, Danielle Steel is able to simultaneously possess a down-to-earth attitude as well as an extremely glamorous side. Her “Scrapbook” even includes an excerpt entitled “A Typical Day in the Life of Danielle Steel,” detailing the incredible amount of time she apparently spends with her children as well as making it known that she writes her novels in the wee hours of the morning. Though she is presented in the light of a typical mom who helps with homework and drives carpools, there is no doubt of her extreme wealth and fame. Her books and website show only glamorous pictures with Steel outfitted in jewels and very expensive looking clothing. The back cover of Wings shows Steel outfitted in a leather bomber jacket with a military patch, but she is also wearing very nice looking pants with a matching top and an enormous necklace with matching earrings. Steel has an added draw to readers because while they can fantasize about her money and fame, she is also a seemingly wonderful mother to 9 children. She has what every American woman wants—money and loving relationships.
The cover art of Steel’s books are no marketing accident. Each book is nearly identical, with the only variety existing in a different picture to depict the title and a slightly different shade of color from the one published before it. Also, Danielle Steel’s name is just as large as the title of the book. When looking in a bookstore for Danielle Steel’s books, the collection assimilates into a rainbow of colors, with each book’s slightly lighter or darker shade blending into the overall grouping. This makes these books extremely recognizable to Danielle Steel’s fans. As bookstores continue to grow into mega superstores, Steel’s familiar cover art will only make a reader feel more comfortable. While the size of the store and the millions of books overwhelming consumers, familiar names and appearances will stand out even more.
Clearly, Steel has established an enormous following. Her first hardback printings are usually 1 million(Bestsellers database), and this is not including the limited editions and large print editions that are simultaneously published at the first printing. These extra editions allow collectors and visually impaired people the same chance to get her most recent novel at the start of publication. Her books go on to be published in paperback, Braille, and several translations. Wings was found to be published 15 different times in a multitude of languages, and Danielle Steel’s website details her overseas publishers in at least 29 different countries. She does not only captivate American audiences; Danielle Steel is so popular that there is a market around the entire world for her novels. In printing in so many languages and different editions, Steel is guaranteeing that some form of her work will be available to people of any language. Though Wings was neither published on audio tape nor made into a TV movie as many of Steel’s books are, there is no lack of translated editions.
Wings, as well as the majority of Steel’s other works have been dubbed as easy reads(Galenet). Her books are sold at all major booksellers, second hand shops, they can be checked out at the library, and they are found in many drug stores, grocery stores, and in airports. The books are fast moving, there is no difficult language, the plot is very linear and predictable, and the reader is drawn into the feelings of the characters. Danielle Steel does not claim to write on a high literary level (Galenet), and thus her books should be treated as a way to escape to a world of make-believe but identifiable characters. Critics point out her poor grammar, non-sequiturs, and run-on sentences, but the novel moves so fast and the reader is so enthralled that it becomes easy to look past this. Whether this says that society is reading on an extremely low level or just reading for pleasure, it is indisputable that Steel’s books are hard to put down.
In researching a reason as to why Steel would have focused on World War II, flying, and aviation hero Amelia Earhart, it became apparent that these topics were very prevalent in the media at this time.
On June 12, 1994, TNT broadcasted a highly publicized TV movie starring Diane Keaton as Amelia Earhart. The movie was mentioned in several major newspapers including The Washington Post, as well as all major magazines and entertainment guides(Galenet). Amelia Earhart: The Final Flight was so highly regarded that the Smithsonian Institution offered a mega-screen preview at the National Air and Space Museum with an introduction by Doris Rich, author of Amelia Earhart: A Biography. Additionally, in as early as August of 1994, the Smithsonian Institution was in the midst of the most heated debate over an exhibit in history. ”The Last Act: The Atomic Bomb and the End of WWII”, an exhibit including Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped “Little Boy,” the first atomic bomb, on Hiroshima was a widely publicized uproar at the politics involved in displaying this plane(Washington Times Archives, Washington Post Archives). These happenings in the media could have contributed to a furthered interest in Wings, which dealt with many of the same issues.
In April of 1994, New York University history professor, Susan Ware, published a highly debated book on feminism entitled Still Missing: Amelia Earhart and the Search for Modern Feminism. This book dealt with the disappearance of Earhart and her assertion of herself as a woman through the ultimate defiance of nature—flying. Along the very same lines of the thinking of Wings heroine Cassie O’Malley, this book could serve as a perfect segueway to Steel’s romance novel.
1994 also brought the announcement that The Ninety Nines, a group of people who enjoy sharing the knowledge of Amelia Earhart and other women pilots, was beginning extensive fundraising, restoration and preservation efforts to restore The Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum(www.ninety-nines.org). Ironically, Cassie O’Malley becomes one of the founding women of The Ninety Nines at the end of Wings. Also, Women in Aviation, International was formally established in 1994, an organization dedicated to encouraging women to seek opportunities in aviation(www.wiai.org). At the time of the publication of Wings, the media was full of happenings pertaining to Amelia Earhart, aviation, and women and the ongoing struggle for feminism. There was much mention of a lack of religion and morality, as well as the loosing of family values. Though the characters of Wings were in no way highly religious, the strong family structure was perfunctory. When Cassie lost her brother, the reader was engrossed in her family enough to feel pity for the characters.
Though Danielle Steel’s books are in no way of a literary quality to win any awards, she has certainly captured the hearts of millions of readers all over the world. Wings is just another addition to the growing collection of books her name sells each year. The popular genre of historical romance, Danielle Steel’s persona, the marketing and publishing strategies surrounding her works, and the frequent media attention surrounding Amelia Earhart and aviation make this book an inevitable bestseller. 1990s society is enthralled with movie stars and Danielle Steel is able to portray a glamorous and a motherly persona at the same time. People want to live a perfect romance, and Danielle Steel’s books allow that to happen. Wings has is all: the love story, aviation, and a woman asserting herself in a man’s world at a time when feminism dominates our culture.
Galenet-Biography Resource Center
Graduate School of Library and Information Science
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