Cover image for Safe harbour
Safe harbour
Steel, Danielle.
Personal Author:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
New York : Random House Large Print, [2003]

Physical Description:
521 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


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LARGE PRINT FICTION Adult Fiction Large Print
LARGE PRINT FICTION Adult Large Print Large Print

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In her fifty-ninth bestselling novel, Danielle Steel tells an unforgettable story of survival...of how two people who lost everything find hope...and of the extraordinary acts of faith and courage that bring --and keep-- families together... On a windswept summer day, as the fog rolls across the San Francisco coastline, a solitary figure walks down the beach, a dog at her side. At eleven, Pip Mackenzie's young life has already been touched by tragedy; nine months before, a terrible accident plunged her mother into inconsolable grief. But on this chilly July afternoon, Pip meets someone who fills her sad gray world with color and light. And in her innocence and in his kindness, a spark will be kindled, lives will be changed, and a journey of hope will begin. From the moment the curly-haired girl walks up to his easel on the sand, Matt Bowles senses something magical about her. Pip reminds him of his own daughter at that age, before a bitter divorce tore his family apart and swept his children halfway across the world. With her own mother, Ophélie, retreating deeper into her grief, Pip spends her summer at the shore the way lonely children do: watching the glittering waters and rushing clouds, daydreaming and remembering how things used to be. That is, until she meets artist Matt Bowles, who offers to teach the girl to draw--and can't help but notice her beautiful, lonely mother. At first, Ophélie is thrown off balance by her daughter's new companion--until she realizes how much joy he is bringing into their lives, despite the sadness she sees in his eyes. As their newfound friend works his subtle magic, mother and daughter slowly begin to heal, to laugh again, to rediscover what they have lost. When summer ends, and Ophélie and Pip must leave the beach for the city, the season of healing continues. Gathering her newfound strength, Ophélie begins a volunteer job at a city outreach program, where she works with the homeless, and can no longer ignore the blessings in her own life. But as soul-sharing phone calls and autumn beach getaways deepen Ophélie and Matt's friendship, fate strikes another blow. Out of the blue, Matt must confront unfinished business from his past. Days later, Ophélie is struck by a stunning betrayal by someone she trusts. And as these events reverberate in two already wounded hearts, something extraordinary happens. Out of the darkness that has shadowed them both comes an unexpected gift of hope. With grace and compassion, Danielle Steel explores the fragile bonds between mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, family members and lifelong friends. Her haunting, impassioned novel takes us across the complex landscape of loss--to the blessings that arise from even the darkest tragedies. At once a story of triumph and a moving elegy to those who suffer and survive, Safe Harbour is perhaps her most powerful and life-affirming novel to date. From the Hardcover edition.

Author Notes

Danielle Steel was born in New York City on August 14, 1947. She studied literature, design, and fashion design - first at Parsons School of Design and later at New York University. Her first novel, Going Home, was published in 1972. Her other books include The House on Hope Street, The Wedding, Irresistible Forces, Granny Dan, Bittersweet, Mirror Image, The Klone and I, The Long Road Home, The Ghost, Special Delivery, The Ranch, His Bright Light, Southern Lights, Blue, Country, The Apartment, Property of a Noble Woman, The Mistress, Dangerous Games, Against All Odds, The Duchess, Fairytale, Fall From Grace, The Cast, and The Good Fight. A number of her novels have made major bestseller lists and have also been adapted into TV movies or miniseries. She also writes children's books including the Max and Martha series. In 2002, she was decorated by the French government as an Officer of the Order des Arts et des Letters for her contributions to world culture.

(Bowker Author Biography) Danielle Steel has been hailed as one of the world's most popular authors with over 430 million copies of her novels sold. Her many international bestsellers include: "The House on Hope Street," "The Wedding," "Irresistible Forces," "Granny Dan," "Bittersweet," "Mirror Image," "The Klone & I," "The Long Road Home," "The Ghost," "Special Delivery," "The Ranch," & other highly acclaimed novels. She is also the author of "His Bright Light," the story of her son Nick Traina's life and death.

(Publisher Fact Sheets)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Steel, who lost her own son to suicide a few years ago, here tells the story of a lonely woman reeling from the untimely deaths of her son and husband who have both recently perished in a small-plane accident. The months pass, but Ophelie just can't get past the loss, and she spends most of her time sleeping, crying, or attending support-group meetings for the bereaved. In addition, she has ceased eating almost completely and barely takes notice of her 11-year-old daughter, Pip. The young girl is also reeling from her loss and finds herself alone much of the time and wandering on the beach near their home. It is during these unchaperoned jaunts that the child befriends a grown man who shows up every morning to paint seascapes. Mattie begins showing Pip how to draw, and by his companionship brings some light into her dark life. Pip keeps her friend secret from her mother for a while, but Ophelie soon finds out and, suspicious of the man's motives, forbids further contact. Ultimately though, Mattie is revealed to be a gentle and kindhearted man who also is mourning a personal loss and--more importantly--is single and eligible. Needless to say, things end happily. --Kathleen Hughes Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

An 11-year-old girl strikes up a friendship with an artist and introduces him to her mother, a grieving widow, in Steel's 59th bestseller-to-be, a sweet but slow-moving romance. The girl, Phillippa (Pip) Mackenzie, is walking her dog along a deserted Northern California beach when she encounters a painter at his easel and stops to watch. She likes to draw; Matt Bowles, the artist, offers to help her; and a friendship is born. Pip's world was shattered nine months before when her father and her tormented, bipolar brother died in a plane crash. A distinctive magical quality in young Pip reminds Matt of his own daughter, whom he's not seen for six years. Pip's mother, Ophelie, initially uneasy about her daughter's friend, comes to see that the sad-eyed artist is the opposite of dangerous-a sensitive, kindly, decent man. The rather idealized Pip (her "haunting cognac-colored eyes" get frequent mention) is wise beyond her years; Ophelie, suffering a severe case of post-traumatic stress, is initially passive and limp but her devotion to a volunteer job helping the homeless elicits sympathy. Matt, a successful ad executive in his former life, is rescued from his own sorrows by fostering Pip's budding talent and by his growing romantic interest in her mother. Ophelie's discovery of a love letter her husband received a week before his death and Matt's confrontation with his treacherous ex-wife provide a modicum of suspense, but some readers may find themselves nodding off before they reach the novel's unexpectedly dramatic climax. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A year has passed since Ophelie lost her husband and son in a plane crash. Still paralyzed by grief and depression, she and adolescent daughter Pip rent a beach house for the summer in Safe Harbour, near San Francisco. When Pip befriends painter Matthew Bowles one day, she learns that he also has suffered the loss of his family. Matt slowly becomes part of their lives, and Ophelie begins to enjoy life again. When she returns home at summer's end, she feels well enough to volunteer at a homeless shelter. Then she and Matthew make the unhappy discovery that their previous spouses had betrayed them, drawing them closer together until the climax, when an act of violence almost separates them forever. While serious fiction readers might be put off by Steel's writing style (bare-bones vocabulary, limited sense of place, plain prose), her page-turning plot and charming depiction of the loving relationship between Pip and Matthew will endear her to her fans, as always. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/03.]-Carol J. Bissett, New Braunfels P.L., TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One It was one of those chilly, foggy days that masquerade as summer in northern California, as the wind whipped across the long crescent of beach, and whisk-broomed a cloud of fine sand into the air. A little girl in red shorts and a white sweatshirt walked slowly down the beach, with her head turned against the wind, as her dog sniffed at seaweed at the water's edge. The little girl had short curly red hair, amber-flecked honey-colored eyes, and a dusting of freckles across her face, and those who knew children would have guessed her to be somewhere between ten and twelve. She was graceful and small, with skinny little legs. And the dog was a chocolate Lab. They walked slowly down from the gated community toward the public beach at the far end. There was almost no one on the beach that day, it was too cold. But she didn't mind, and the dog barked from time to time at the little swirls of sand raised by the wind, and then bounded back to the water's edge. He leaped backward, barking furiously, when he saw a crab, and the little girl laughed. It was obvious that the child and the dog were good friends. Something about the way they walked along together suggested a solitary life, as though one could sense that they had walked along this way often before. They walked side by side for a long time. Some days it was hot and sunny on the beach, as one would expect in July, but not always. When the fog came in, it always seemed wintry and cold. You could see the fog roll in across the waves, and straight through the spires of the Golden Gate. At times you could see the bridge from the beach. Safe Harbour was thirty-five minutes north of San Francisco, and more than half of it was a gated community, with houses sitting just behind the dune, all along the beach. A security booth with a guard kept out the unwelcome. There was no access to the beach itself save from the houses that bordered it. At the other end, there was a public beach, and a row of simpler, almost shacklike houses, which had access to the beach as well. On hot sunny days, the public beach was crowded and populated inch by inch. But most of the time, even the public beach was sparsely visited, and at the private end, it was rare to see anyone on the beach at all. The child had just reached the stretch of beach where the simpler houses were, when she saw a man sitting on a folding stool, painting a watercolor propped against an easel. She stopped and watched him from a considerable distance, as the Lab loped up the dune to pursue an intriguing scent he seemed to have discovered on the wind. The little girl sat down on the sand far from the artist, watching him work. And she was far enough away that he was not aware of her at all. She just liked watching him, there was something solid and familiar about him as the wind brushed through his short dark hair. She liked observing people, and did the same thing with fishermen sometimes, staying well away from them, but taking in all they did. She sat there for a long time, as the artist worked. And she noticed that there were boats in his painting that didn't exist. It was quite a while before the dog came back and sat down next to her on the sand. She stroked him, without looking at him, she was looking out to sea, and then from time to time at the man. After a while, she stood up and approached a little bit, standing behind him and to the side, so he remained unaware of her presence, but she had a clear view of his work in progress. She liked the colors he was working with, and there was a sunset in the painting that she liked as well. The dog was tired by then, and stood by, seeming to wait for a command. And it was yet another little while before she approached again, and stood near enough for the artist to notice her at last. He looked up, startled, as the dog bounded past him, sending up a spray of sand. It was only then that the man glanced up and saw the child. He said nothing, and went on working, and was surprised to notice that she hadn't moved, and was still watching him, when he turned his head again, and mixed some water in his paints. They said nothing to each other, but she continued to watch, and finally sat down on the sand. It was warmer, keeping low in the wind. Like her, the artist was wearing a sweatshirt, and in his case jeans, and an old pair of deck shoes that were well worn. He had a gently weathered face and a deep tan, and she noticed as he worked that he had nice hands. He was roughly the same age as her father, in his forties somewhere. And as he turned to see if she was still there, their eyes met, but neither smiled. He hadn't talked to a child in a long time. "Do you like to draw?" He couldn't imagine any other reason why she'd still be there, except if she were an aspiring artist. She would have been bored otherwise. In truth, she just liked the silent companionship of being close to someone, even a stranger. It seemed friendly somehow. "Sometimes." She was cautious with him. He was, after all, a stranger, and she knew the rules about that. "What do you like to draw?" he asked, cleaning a brush, and looking down at it as he talked. He had a handsome, chiseled face, and a cleft chin. There was something quiet and powerful about him, with broad shoulders and long legs. And in spite of sitting on the artist's stool, you could see he was a tall man. "I like to draw my dog. How do you draw the boats if they aren't there?" He smiled this time as he turned toward her, and their eyes met again. "I imagine them. Would you like to try?" He held out a small sketch pad and a pencil, it was obvious that she wasn't going anywhere. She hesitated, and then stood up, walked toward him, and took the pencil and pad. "Can I draw my dog?" Her delicate face was serious as she inquired. She felt honored that he had offered her the pad. "Sure. You can draw anything you like." They didn't exchange names, but just sat near each other for a time, as each worked. She looked intent as she labored on the drawing. "What's his name?" the artist inquired as the Lab sailed past them, chasing birds. "Mousse," she said, without raising her eyes from her drawing. "He doesn't look much like a moose. But it's a good name," he said, correcting something on his own work, and momentarily scowling at his painting. "It's a dessert. It's French, and it's chocolate." "I guess that'll work," he said, looking satisfied again. He was almost through for the day. It was after four o'clock and he'd been there since lunchtime. "Do you speak French?" he said, more for something to say than out of any real interest, and was surprised when she nodded. It had been years since he'd spoken to a child her age, and he wasn't sure what he should say to her. But she had been so tenacious in her silent presence. And he noticed, as he glanced at her, that aside from the red hair, she looked a little like his daughter. Vanessa had had long straight blond hair at that age, but there was something similar about the demeanor and the posture. If he squinted, he could almost see her. "My mom's French," she added, as she sat, observing her own work. She had encountered the same difficulty she always did when she drew Mousse--the back legs didn't come out right. "Let's take a look," he said, holding a hand out for the sketch pad, aware of her consternation. "I can never do the back part," she said, handing it to him. They were like master and student, the drawing creating an instant bond between them. And she seemed strangely comfortable with him. "I'll show you. . . . May I?" he asked her permission before adding to her efforts, and she nodded. And with careful strokes of the pencil, he corrected the problem. It was actually a very creditable portrait of the dog, even before he improved it. "You did a good job," he observed, as he handed the page back to her and put away his sketch pad and pencil. "Thank you for fixing it. I never know how to do that part." "You'll know next time," he said, and started putting his paints away. It was getting colder, but neither of them seemed to notice. "Are you going home now?" She looked disappointed, and it struck him as he looked into the cognac-colored eyes that she was lonely, and it touched him. Something about her haunted him. "It's getting late." And the fog on the waves was getting thicker. "Do you live here, or are you just visiting?" Neither knew the other's name, but it didn't seem to matter. "I'm here for the summer." There was no excitement in her voice, and she smiled seldom. He couldn't help wondering about her. She had crept into his afternoon, and now there was an odd, undefinable link between them. "At the gated end?" He assumed she had come from the north end of the beach, and she nodded. "Do you live here?" she asked, and he gestured with his head in the direction of one of the bungalows just behind them in answer. "Are you an artist?" "I guess so. So are you," he smiled, glancing at the portrait of Mousse she was holding tightly. Neither of them seemed to want to leave, but they knew they had to. She had to get home before her mother did, or she'd get in trouble. She had escaped the baby-sitter who'd been talking for hours on the phone with her boyfriend. The child knew that the teenaged baby-sitter never cared if she went wandering off. Most of the time she didn't even notice, until the child's mother came home and asked about her. "My father used to draw too." He noticed the "used to," but wasn't sure if it meant that her father no longer drew, or had left them. He suspected the latter. She was probably a child from a broken home, hungry for male attention. None of that was unfamiliar to him. "Is he an artist?" "No, an engineer. And he invented some things." And then, with a sigh, she looked at him sadly. "I guess I'd better go home now." And as though on cue, Mousse reappeared and stood beside her. "Maybe I'll see you again sometime." It was early July, and there was still a lot of life left in the summer. But he had never seen her before, and suspected she didn't come down this way very often. It was a good distance for her. "Thank you for letting me draw with you," she said politely, a smile dancing in her eyes this time, and the wistfulness he saw there touched him profoundly. "I liked it," he said honestly, and then stuck a hand out to her, feeling somewhat awkward. "My name is Matthew Bowles, by the way." She shook his hand solemnly, and he was impressed by her poise and good manners. She was a remarkable little soul, and he was glad to have met her. "I'm Pip Mackenzie." "That's an interesting name. Pip? Is that short for something?" "Yes. I hate it," she giggled, seeming more her own age again. "Phillippa. I was named after my grandfather. Isn't it awful?" She screwed up her face in disdain for her own name, and it elicited a smile from him. She was irresistible, particularly with the curly red hair and the freckles, all of which delighted him. He wasn't even sure anymore if he liked children. He generally avoided them. But this one was different. There was something magical about her. "Actually, I like it. Phillippa. Maybe one day you'll like it." "I don't think so. It's a stupid name. I like Pip better." "I'll remember that when I see you next time," he said, smiling at her. They seemed to be lingering, reluctant to leave each other. "I'll come back again, when my mom goes to the city. Maybe Thursday." He had the distinct impression, given what she said, that she had either sneaked out or slipped away unnoticed, but at least she had the dog with her. Suddenly, for no reason he could think of, he felt responsible for her. He folded his stool then, and picked up the worn, battered box he kept his paints in. He put the folded easel under one arm, and they stood looking at each other for a long moment. "Thank you again, Mr. Bowles." "Matt. Thank you for the visit. Good-bye, Pip," he said almost sadly. "Bye," she said with a wave, and then danced away like a leaf on the wind, as she waved again, and ran up the beach with Mousse behind her. He stood watching her for a long time, wondering if he'd ever see her again, or if it mattered. She was only a child after all. He put his head down then against the wind, and walked up the dune to his small weather-beaten cottage. He never locked the door, and when he walked inside and set his things down in the kitchen, he felt an ache he hadn't felt in years and didn't welcome. That was the trouble with children, he told himself, as he poured himself a glass of wine. They crept right into your soul, like a splinter under a fingernail, and then it hurt like hell when you removed them. But maybe it was worth it. There was something exceptional about her, and as he thought of the little girl on the beach, his eyes drifted to the portrait he had painted years before of a girl who looked remarkably like her. It was his daughter Vanessa when she was roughly the same age. And with that, he walked into his living room, and sank heavily into an old battered leather chair, and looked out at the fog rolling in over the ocean. And as he stared at it, all he could see in his mind's eye was the little girl with bright red curly hair and freckles, and the haunting cognac-colored eyes. Chapter Two Ophelie Mackenzie took the last winding turn in the road, and drove the station wagon slowly through the tiny town of Safe Harbour. The town consisted of two restaurants, a bookstore, a surf shop, a grocery store, and an art gallery. It had been an arduous afternoon in the city for her. She hated going to the group twice a week, but she had to admit that it helped her. She had been going to it since June, and had another three months ahead of her. She had even agreed to attend meetings over the summer, which was why she had left Pip with their neighbor's daughter. Amy was sixteen, liked to baby-sit, or so she claimed, and needed the money to supplement her allowance. Ophelie needed the help, and Pip seemed to like her. It was a comfortable arrangement for all concerned, although Ophelie hated driving into town twice a week, even though it only took her half an hour, forty minutes at most. As commutes went, aside from the ten-mile stretch of hairpin turns between the freeway and the beach, it was easy. And driving along the cliffs, on the winding road, looking out over the ocean relaxed her. But this afternoon she was tired. It was exhausting sometimes listening to the others, and her own problems hadn't improved much since October. If anything, it seemed to be getting harder. But at least she had the support of the group, it was someone to talk to. And when she needed to, she could let her hair down with them, and admit how rotten she was feeling. She didn't like burdening Pip with her troubles. It didn't seem fair to do that to a child of eleven. Excerpted from Safe Harbour by Danielle Steel All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.