Picks and Pans Review: The Lives of Danielle Steel

updated 11/14/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/14/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

by Vickie L. Bane and Lorenzo Benet

Fans of Danielle Steel's romantic concoctions will relish this unauthorized biography of the best-selling author. It's no wonder the woman has written so many books—she has a rich vein of experience to mine.

Steel, 47, grew up on New York City's tony Upper East Side, the daughter of an aristocratic German Jewish exile and his beautiful Portuguese wife. Steel's first husband (she's had four) was a scion of the Lazard investment banking family—but she soon left the marriage and Manhattan for a new life in San Francisco.

Determined to become a writer, she would work through the night, fall asleep at the typewriter and wake up with the imprint of the keys on her cheek. She also craved adventure and found plenty of it in a series of relationships with highly inappropriate men—including both a heroin addict and an ex-con who was arrested for rape during their affair. Husband No. 4, John Traina, seems to be a keeper.

The authors reveal that Steel often polishes up parts of her life and skips over the nastier bits when presenting herself for public consumption. Bane and Benet, both reporters for PEOPLE, have done an admirable job tapping important sources, including Steel's second husband, currently incarcerated in a Colorado prison.

Their sketch of the author is not all bad—she is shown to be a highly passionate and ambitious woman who has changed as her needs and life circumstances dictated. In other words, she's a lot like her heroines. (St. Martin's, $22.95)

From Our Partners