Wanderlust, a 1986 romantic novel, authored by Danielle Steel, is her biggest hardcover bestseller that made its debut in paperback with a 3.3 million-copy first printing. A bestseller on the New York Times, including four weeks as #1, the book was originally published on June 1, 1986, by Dell Publications, receiving a short number of both negative and positive editorial reviews. The plot follows the protagonist, Audrey Driscoll, a fictional character travelling from America to China, Germany, England, Turkey and North Africa, torn between her yearning for adventure and her soul mate, and love for her old grandfather and younger sister, Annabelle, back home in San Francisco.


The story is narrated through the eyes of Audrey Driscoll, who grew up in her grandfather’s San Francisco Mansion. Her parents had been killed in an unfortunate accident in Honolulu when she was a just eleven. By 1932, she had mothered her beautiful younger sister Anabelle for fourteen long years with all the love and care she had to offer. A high-spirited companion for her elderly grandfather, she reminded him often enough of his son, Roland, whom he lost because of his wanderlust. She happily led the life of a spinster which seemed shameful, as she excellently managed the Driscoll household with complete ease.


The novel starts with the wedding of Anabelle and Harcourt and Audrey looking into every detail so as to make the wedding a grand success, long arguments on politics and Roosevelt between Audrey and her grandfather, secretly loved by them both.


But things take a turn when Audrey is confronted by Harcourt one day as to what she’s really doing with her life. Looking after her little sisters household and her grandfather, is that all that is to her, is that all what she wants from life? This confrontation makes her introspect and realise that she’s been wasting her life all this while and then decides that she needs a break from the mundane life that she’s leading right now, and shocks her grandfather when she packs her bags and decides to leave on a short trip to go outside and see the real world, and go get click happy something she enjoys the most.


There she lands up in Chicago, New York and Europe, and goes on to meet Violet and James Hawthorne on a cruise, the couple who go on to become her best friends for life. From here, they convince her to come over to their holiday home at Antibes and stay for a while, instead of moving about all alone, where they introduce her to Charles Parker-Scott, the man she gives away her heart to. The vacation passes with no knowledge of time but just enjoying each others company. The foursome have great fun and feel deeply saddened when the time to bid good-bye arrives.


But the spark between Audrey and Charles was too much for them to not meet again. So Audrey travelled to Venice via Rome to meet with Charles just for once. But some things are just destined to be, and so she travels with him to Istanbul and to China, where she ends up staying behind for a group of twenty one orphaned girls, as Charles leaves for work. She returns home to her grandfather months later than promised with Mai-li, her half Japanese-half Chinese adopted daughter from the orphanage.


The story unravels the real side of Audrey that she had kept hidden for years. It makes your heart cry as the scenario changes from the perfect life that the couple was leading to the orphanage and to the World War and the regime of Hitler. Charles and Audrey go on to have their own child while they struggle with life, its joys and pains, as Charles works as a War Correspondent and later, Audrey joins him as War Photographer. The book is a must read for all fans of Steel and for first timers, as she will surely capture your hearts and even go on to make you cry.


Sankalpa Acharya

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