Journey by Danielle Steel is a novel dealing with the sensitive issue of domestic violence. It traces the journey of Madeleine who has had a serious history of domestic violence since her childhood and continues to experience it in the adult life as well. The novel begins with her being happily married to Jack Hunter, or so she thought. Jack is head of the network where she is the anchorwoman. In the beginning itself, we are made to witness an event where Maddy (as she is known) attempts to assert her independence and is thwarted by her husband. It becomes clear that the supposed perfect, fairytale marriage of Maddy and Jack Hunter may not be so perfect after all. Jack is portrayed as a control freak who always needs to feel that he “owns” her. He makes her submit to him through various means – emotional, psychological, physical and sexual. Maddy always ends up feeling that it is her fault. Adding to this indoctrination of her inferiority is her past experience in marriage. Her ex-husband had also been a wife abuser who had on several occasions beaten her badly and even broken her bones. The incident of the abusive ex-husband leaves her scarred forever, and makes her extremely vulnerable. In her present life, even when she begins doubting Jack’s love for her, she is scared to fight back because she is scared of being turned into the streets again. Ironically, it had been Jack who had freed her from the clutches of her abusive husband, and now, it is Jack who abuses her. In fact, his form of domestic violence is worse, since he abuses her psychologically, and thus till the very end she refuses to believe that something like that might actually be happening to her again. Once she joins a committee formed by the American President’s wife and hears incidents and speeches by psychologists, she realizes how critical a situation she is in. Once realization dawns upon her, her journey starts in gaining independence. Even though her husband had cut her off, whatever little friends she has, they do not hesitate to help her.
What is best about the novel is how sensitively it deals with the issue of domestic violence. Some scenes seem so realistic in the novel, that they could be actual incidents from someone’s life. There is no excess melodrama and Steel provides good information about domestic violence. The book could actually work as a guide for some. The character of Maddy is believable; it could be any married woman in any part of the country. The book is sort of a bildungsroman of Maddy’s growth as an independent entity who matures through confrontation with her past. Coupled with an emotionally charged, well written novel, is the plot which makes the book simply unputdownable. A few pages into the novel, and you simply get hooked. Read it to get hold of some hard truths.
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