All right. So on this many agree. You can't put a Sidney Sheldon novel down. But why pick one up in the first place? Well, you certainly didn't read his books for their exquisitely crafted sentences. I mean, here's a nice example from Rage of Angels: "She sat ramrod straight, as though bracing herself against unseen ghosts of the past." Exactly. But at the same time who could resist the plot twists of his incredibly unrealistic but extremely satisfying stories of revenge. To generalize: his novels featured a young woman from a sad but hopeful background who struggled her way to the top. By the time she was an adult she was rich and beautiful and had an enviable life. Of course, you could read something like that anywhere. But no, that wasn't the whole story. You see, somewhere along the way, somehow in her life, this woman was wronged. Usually she was wronged by men who had taken advantage of her youth and innocence. It doesn't matter how or why this happened. Once this woman had made her way to the top, she spent the rest of her life tracking down and ruining the lives of anyone who had wronged her. And that was the satisfaction.
Sometimes it would take years for the revenge to take place. The woman would reacquaint herself with the person or people who had wronged her. Of course, now as a rich glamorous woman, she was completely unrecognizable from the poor waif she had once been. Amazingly, and in every novel, no one would ever remember having met this woman before. Which was perfect! She could just take her time, perhaps even allow some man to fall in love with her...and then strike! Revenge could take a number of forms: running a successful business into the ground, destroying a blissfully happy marriage, or sometimes it was just death. I still cannot forget the image of a woman casually tossing a blow dryer into a bathtub, where her unfortunate soon-to-be-electrocuted lover was bathing. This vivid scene taught me, at the age of 12, exactly how water and electricity do not mix.
I suppose what I learned from Sidney Sheldon is that life should not really be like a Sidney Sheldon novel. Spending your time obsessed with payback, though tempting, is probably not the best way to go about your days. And who really has the fortitude to build up a vast empire only to bring it down yourself in a glorious blaze of revenge? I confess that I probably couldn't manage this, no matter how ruthlessly I tried. And to be honest, it's not that I really liked Sidney Sheldon's books, so much as I am glad that I read them. Or rather couldn't help but read them. Or whatever it was that kept me turning the pages until I found that suddenly there were no more left to read.