Reviewed by Meghan Vermeer
Ever made a bad decision? I know I have. Thankfully, we’re not alone in our poor decision-making skills, and All That Glitters, by Danielle Steel, proves this point by sharing the bad decisions of others, too. Except with this particular book, the main character chases “all that glitters” and gets to experience all of these amazing and expensive things, which makes for an exciting and interesting read.
All That Glitters follows a twenty-something named Coco. Coco lives a pleasant and fairly reserved life, and her loving parents have always been there to guide her and help her to grow. That is, until a terrorist attack leaves her struggling in the wake of both her parents’ deaths. Suddenly, Coco is left to make all of her own decisions—finances, romances, and careers—on her own, without the guidance of her parents. As a young woman, she often finds herself chasing the glitzy and glamorous, but as the title suggests in an allusion to Shakespeare, all that glitters is not gold. The glamorous isn’t always what is best!
Throughout the novel, Coco learns the hard way that following your immediate passions doesn’t always work out. It’s like the rose-colored glasses of the infatuation stage that people talk about with high schoolers. Everything is perfect in the beginning, but once the initial shock and appeal wear off, you start to see the real issues. This is pretty much a constant theme in Coco’s life, from the very beginning of the book to the third-to-last page when her life starts to really come together in a good way.
One of the very first things I noticed about this book is that it is written in a different style than most novels that I read. Written from the perspective of an omniscient narrator, readers get into the minds of each character. This is a helpful technique when there are so many views to consider, especially in a book like this with characters who rotate in and out of the plot. However, it often seems like the point of view is actually limited omniscient just until convenient. Sometimes the point of view is so focused on Coco and then suddenly switches to another character. The sudden switches can be a little jarring, and more consistency might’ve been helpful.
Some other books that have been written in a similar style with an omniscient narrator include Rumaan Alam’s Leave the World Behind. I reviewed this book a few months ago, and I find myself still thinking about it sometimes. I definitely recommend it. Other books with omniscient narrators that I’ve loved are Delia Owen’s Where the Crawdads Sing and even Lord of the Flies by William Golding. My high school students just finished that one up, and I’m always in awe of Golding’s book every single time I read it!
As a twenty-something myself, I found Coco’s character to be both lovable and unrealistic. You know that feeling when you are watching a horror movie, and the main character goes into the room where a killer is waiting? You just want to scream and tell them to turn around! This book is no different. While reading, I was incredibly invested in all of the poor decisions Coco made, and I often wanted to shake her by the shoulders and tell her to be smarter! I suppose that’s a sign of good writing—to force a reader to be so invested in a character’s actions. On the other hand, I feel like most twenty-somethings would be smarter in Coco’s situations. I know everyone is different, but I just don’t know if the amount of poor decisions she makes is realistic.
Danielle Steel, the author, comes with a ton of awards and recognition for her past works. I hesitate to say that I wouldn’t recommend All That Glitters because so many people have loved her books in the past. In fact, I even have added one of her other books to my reading list (His Bright Light). Perhaps this particular book just wasn’t my cup of tea. So, if you like reading books about living the high life and learning from mistakes, this might be a good book for you!