Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hotel Vendome by Danielle Steel

          Hotel Vendome is the story of a girl, Heloise, who grows up in a hotel. Her father buys the place when she is two years old, renovates it and makes it into one of the premiere places to stay in New York.

          Heloise’s mother leaves them for another man shortly after the hotel opens for business.  Heloise and her father live happily on the premises until she graduates high school and goes to Switzerland to study hotel management.

          While Heloise is away at school, her father falls in love with a woman named Natalie. It has always been just Hugues and Heloise, and Daddy fears his daughter’s reaction when she finds out he has broadened their little circle. He hems and haws and fails to tell his child about Natalie for an entire year.  When Heloise returns from college and is finally informed, we see exactly why her father hesitated. The girl is snarky and rude to her father and totally ignores Natalie. This goes on for months.

          Finally, on the eve of Natalie and Hugues’ wedding, Heloise begins to behave more like an adult and less like a spoiled brat. This happy state of affairs lasts until she is told of Natalie’s pregnancy. Heloise goes through another, albeit shorter and less nasty, rampage. It comes to an abrupt end as she rushed Natalie to the hospital during a miscarriage scare.

          Heloise eventually grows up both mentally and emotionally.  She takes over the management of the hotel when her father retires.

          There was a large section in the middle of this story where Hugues is being a total coward and refusing to tell his college-age daughter he has a girlfriend. By not including her in the development of the relationship, the information was doubly shocking to Heloise. Not only had her father been involved with “another woman”, but they had been deceiving her the whole time. If Daddy had casually mentioned he was dating someone, Heloise would have dealt with the changes a bite at a time instead of trying to swallow the whole elephant at once.

          Then again, I kept thinking Heloise was behaving like an impossibly spoiled princess, and I was appalled that her father let her get away with it. It is inconceivable to me that a nineteen-year-old seriously thinks her single father should not date. Give me a break!

          However, late as it may have been, Heloise does grow up to be a gracious, self-sufficient woman in the end.  I only hope, for the sake of Heloise’s younger siblings, Hugues learned from his mistakes.

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