(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

With the end of World War II, fourteen-year-old Crystal Wyatt finds little reason to be unhappy. The young men of the community are home from war, her father loves her deeply, and the land of the Napa Valley provides her with the security and tranquillity she so desires. Unfortunately, as in most Danielle Steel novels, this pastoral opening is but the calm before the storm.

First to destroy Crystal’s idyllic life-style is the appearance of Spencer Hill, who, despite the difference in their ages, falls helplessly in love with Crystal--and she with him. Then her father dies, her mother turns against her with savage glee, and she is subjected to a brutal rape which precipitates the death of her older brother. Crystal flees her beloved valley and finds a job singing in a San Francisco nightclub.

Meanwhile, Spencer Hill completes law school, obtains a position with a large New York firm, and contracts an essentially loveless marriage to Elizabeth Barclay, the daughter of a newly appointed justice of the United States Supreme Court. Spencer soon regrets his action, but Elizabeth, despite his revelation that he loves someone else, refuses to grant him a divorce without a career-damaging scandal. Thus, Spencer opts for despair in his personal life and pursues success professionally while Crystal heads for Hollywood.

Crystal, whose beauty is legendary and who sings like an angel, is successful in films, but in her innocence she has fallen...

(The entire section is 417 words.)