#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
Two couples, four decades apart. One believes that if lovers die, they find each other again in another life. Or perhaps they wind up as stars side by side in the sky, together forever. Who knows how it really ends? Danielle Steel breaks new ground in her career as a perennial New York Times bestseller with the poignant story of two parallel destinies, and the kind of love we all hope will be everlasting.
UNTIL THE END OF TIME
Bill, a dedicated young lawyer working at his family’s prestigious New York firm, leaves everything he trained for to follow his dream and become a minister in rural Wyoming. Jenny, his wife, is a stylist whose heart and soul are invested in fashion. She leaves the milieu and life she loves to join him. The certainty they share is that their destinies are linked forever.
Fast forward thirty-eight years. Robert is a hardworking independent book publisher in Manhattan who has given up all personal life to build his struggling business. He is looking for one big hit novel to publish. Lillibet is a young Amish woman, living as though in the seventeenth century, caring for her widowed father and three young brothers on their family farm. In secret at night, by candlelight, she has written the novel that burns within her, and gets it into Robert’s hands, wrapped in her hand-stitched apron. He falls in love first with the book, and then with the woman he has never met, living in the sequestered world of the Amish—a world without telephones, computers, electricity, modern conveniences, or cars. Although Lillibet faces banishment from her family and community, she embraces the opportunity to publish her novel, and is irresistibly drawn to the man who has heard her voice. Destiny is at work here. Fate draws her from her horse-and-buggy life toward his, and the publication of her novel.
In the hands of master storyteller Danielle Steel, these two remarkable relationships come together in unexpected and surprising ways, as lovers are lost, and find each other again. If it is true that real love lasts forever and lovers cannot lose each other, then Until the End of Time will not only comfort and fascinate us, as destiny does her dance, but it will give us hope as well. Love and fate are powerful, irresistible forces, as Steel proves to us here, in a book about courage, change, risk, and hope . . . and love that never dies.
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Danielle Steel has been hailed as one of the world’s most popular authors, with over 600 million copies of her novels sold. Her many international bestsellers include The Sins of the Mother, Friends Forever, Betrayal, Hotel Vendôme, Happy Birthday, 44 Charles Street, and other highly acclaimed novels. She is also the author of His Bright Light, the story of her son Nick Traina’s life and death, and the memoir of her work with the homeless, A Gift of Hope.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Steel / UNTIL THE END OF TIME
The atmosphere in a room off the ballroom of the Hotel Pierre in midtown New York was fraught with tension as forty-five tall, rail-thin, bare-breasted models were getting their hair and makeup done, while simultaneously trying on shoes, and dresses for last-second alterations. David Fieldston was looking them over carefully, while a cameraman filmed him for a documentary on Fashion Week, and he explained the inspiration for his winter line. He was a stylish-looking man in his late forties, with gray hair, and he had been an important name in the fashion world for twenty years. Two years earlier he had been on the verge of bankruptcy, and the fashion press said his designs lacked energy, his work was all déjà vu, and he was out of steam.
And now, thanks to a dynamo named Jenny Arden, he was back on the map. His last season had been his best one ever. His designs had taken off again, and his career with them. Every collection he’d done since Jenny Arden had begun advising him was vibrant, full of new, fresh ideas, and alive. He had taken off into the stratosphere and was better than ever, and privately he credited it all to her, and had told his closest friends and associates that she was a genius. Jenny was more modest about it, since she didn’t do the actual designing, but she did research for him and came up with fresh inspiration for his line that made the collections exciting and really work. She met with him several times a week between seasons, and she was on hand, watching everything, when he presented the col- lection. And he paid her handsomely to do it. He wasn’t Jenny’s only client, but he was her most impressive success so far.
Jenny came by her love for fashion honestly, and had followed it since she was a small child. Her French grandmother had been a première in the haute couture ateliers in Paris, and her mother was a dedicated seamstress. They had had a small but respected business in Philadelphia while Jenny was growing up, where they had diligently copied the finest designs and gowns from the couture houses in Paris. And at eighteen, after watching them all her life, Jenny had gone to Parsons School of Design in New York hoping to become a designer. She had found the classes tedious to the point of agonizing, discovered she had no talent herself for the mechanics of draping and wrestling with fabrics, and no patience to do so. She was much more interested in the trends and the direction that fashion was going.
Her clients in recent years liked to say that she was psychic, and could smell a fashion before it happened. Jenny made it happen, and knew just what to do when it did. She was a style director, and a muse for the designers she worked for, and no detail was too small for her meticulous attention. Accessories, and the way a fashion was worn, were everything, she insisted. It wasn’t enough to design a dress, a coat, or a hat—you had to turn it into a living thing, she insisted, that breathed on its own and was not just an object. She was passionate about what she did, and she infused her vision and energy into her clients, and that turned up on the runway when they showed their clothes, just as it was about to happen when David Fieldston showed his new line to the fashion press and store buyers during Fashion Week in New York. The crowd was waiting breathlessly for the show to start. And while David was being interviewed, Jenny was doing her job, threading her way through the models, watching the hair and makeup with a keen eye, tugging a dress as it was put on, lifting the collar of a jacket, snapping a bracelet on a wrist, changing a shoe at the last minute.
“No, no, no!” she said, frowning, as dressers put clothes on a model as though she were a doll. “The necklace is on backward, and she has the belt up- side down.” She rapidly made the necessary changes, nodded, and sped across the room to a model who was being sewn into a see-through lace dress. They hadn’t had time to put the zipper in before the show. It happened all the time. And Jenny knew the dress would be a showstopper, you could see the model’s naked breasts and most of her body except what was concealed by a flesh-colored G-string, which kept the model relatively decent. David had been nervous about it, and Jenny had assured him that it was 1975 and the country was ready to see breasts, at least on the runway, if nowhere else. Rudi Gernreich had come to the same conclusion, and his bold designs were sensational and had been well received. Vogue magazine had been showing breasts for a dozen years, since Diana Vreeland introduced them when she was editor in chief in 1963.
Diana Vreeland was Jenny’s role model and goddess. Having realized that she didn’t want to work on Seventh Avenue and be a designer to earn a living, Jenny had started out as an errand girl at Vogue when she graduated from Parsons eleven years before. She had eventually become the keeper of “The Closet,” during Mrs. Vreeland’s regime as editor in chief. Diana Vreeland had started at Vogue four years before Jenny got there. The Closet was where all the fabulous clothes were kept, and for a young girl inebriated by fashion, and in love with it since her earliest memories, it was sheer heaven. She got to see and touch all the beautiful things going in and out, and how they were put together for every photo shoot. Jenny soon caught the attention of the illustrious Mrs. Vreeland, and worshipped at her feet and became her senior assistant.
Then Jenny decided to leave the magazine five years after she’d arrived. Everyone said she was crazy, she had the perfect job. But she wanted to start her own fashion consulting business, to advise designers and style photo shoots on her own. And remarkably, the only support she got for her project was from Mrs. Vreeland, who secretly told her she was doing the right thing. And much to Jenny’s amazement, Diana Vreeland left Vogue at almost the same time. She had become a consultant to the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she was in the audience at the Pierre, waiting to see David Fieldston’s show that day. She had been incredibly good to Jenny, who was unfailingly loyal to her in exchange. Jenny had easily recognized the senior editor’s genius when she worked for her every day, and had learned much from her, although she had her own distinctive style.
Like a good puppeteer, so nobody would notice her as she worked the strings from backstage, she was wear- ing black from head to foot, as Mrs. Vreeland had. Jenny’s long, shining dark hair swept her shoulders in a straight blunt cut, she wore very little makeup, and her huge blue eyes took in the entire scene. The models were almost dressed by then, and she was still watching them like a hawk, thinking of nothing else. And seconds later she could hear the ballroom go quiet and the music come on. They were opening with a Beatles song, to keep the mood light. The clothes they were showing were for the following fall season, seven months away, so store buyers could order them now. And no one in the ballroom cared that it was the beginning of February and snowing outside. Orders had to be placed months in advance.
Jenny continued to watch the models, as they lined up and got ready to walk the runway. She was almost as tall as they were, minus the high heels. She was long and lean and beautiful herself, but she loved being invisible in this dazzling fashion world, always behind the scenes, making things happen. The producer of the runway show gave her a nod, and she signaled the first girl.
“Go!” she said, as their most beautiful model stepped through black velvet curtains onto the runway that ran the length of the ballroom and had taken two days to set up. It was made of copper, and Jenny had reminded the girls to be careful not to slip—no mean feat in six- and seven-inch-high heels. The shoes were only samples, usually made in only one size, as prototypes, pre-production, and often didn’t fit. And they had to make it look effortless as they crossed one leg over the other and sauntered down the runway. And if one of them fell on the slippery surface in the awkward shoes, it wouldn’t be the first time. Whatever happened, they had to keep going.
“Go!” Jenny signaled to each girl, making tiny corrections before they went out, as the first girls came back into the dressing room, and dressers stripped them and dressed them again. David Fieldston was watching from a slight distance, and looked as anxious as he always did, but Jenny could tell from the applause in the ballroom that the show was going well. And he had designed a spectacular fall line, with Jenny’s help. She had vetoed several things he loved, and suggested others, and luckily it all worked, and he always forgave her for her interference and sometimes-offbeat suggestions. It was what he paid her for, and her advice had been flawless so far.
Jenny stood back with a smile as David rushed past her and kissed her cheek on his way to take a bow, with the last model in a brilliant green velvet evening gown, at the end of the show.
“You did it again!” he whispered with a grin, and then ran out to the runway to join the models. The applause was deafening. Jenny had spun him into an icon in two short years, and turned his career around. And he was grateful to her for all of it. He took nothing she did for granted. And the best part about it for Jenny was that she loved her job. This was what she had always dreamed of doing, making fashion work. Not just designing pretty dresses, but actually creating fashion and making it make sense, memorable, and something every woman wanted to own.
Fashion had been her passion ever since she could remember, and now she got to create it every day. She could think of nothing better, as she put little pouches of safety pins and double-sided tape into her bag, put on her coat, and literally ran out the door. Her next show, for a brand-new client, was in two hours, in a theater downtown. Fashion Week was insane, and she loved every minute of it. She had done a show for one of her clients the day before, and had two more the next day. Designers rented restaurants, lofts, and theaters all over the city, or ballrooms like David Fieldston at the Pierre, to show their lines for the next season. And for someone like Jenny, it was a race to get there. Her new young designer, Pablo Charles, would be waiting for her breathlessly in an off-off-Broadway theater he had rented for his show.
Jenny ran across the lobby of the Hotel Pierre, carry- ing her heavy bag, as a tall, good-looking man ran behind her to catch up. He was even taller than she was, and snatched her bag out of her hand, as she turned to smile at him. It was her husband Bill, who had come to see the show. He tried to see them all, and he was always proud of what she did.
“What do you keep in here? Rocks to throw at the press?” he teased her, as he followed her through the door of the hotel onto the street. He was as fair as she was dark, and very aristocratic looking, and he had been in love with her since the day they met. He had always said it had been fate, and she had finally come to believe him. It felt that way to her now too. There was a town car and driver waiting for her at the curb to get to the next show, and Bill slipped into the car beside her. He had taken the afternoon off so he could see both shows. He was her biggest fan. “Great show, Jen. I loved the dresses at the end. So did the crowd. Suzy Menkes was smiling from ear to ear.” She was the most important fashion journalist of all. And Bill had noticed Mrs. Vreeland there too, as a gesture of affection for Jenny. She always came.
Jenny looked pleased at her husband’s comments as he leaned over to kiss her. For a man who hadn’t known one designer from another when she met him, she had turned him into a fashion aficionado, and he thoroughly enjoyed what she did, and all the excitement around it. Although it was total insanity for her, he loved all the hype and chaos around Fashion Week. It felt like carnival time to him, when the circus came to town. And he had learned to appreciate the talent and expertise of what she did. He had great respect for her, particularly knowing how hard she’d worked to get there, and she had done it all herself. No one had ever made life easy for her until he came along. It was all he wanted to do for her, and she had been just as good to him. They had been married for five years. And their bond to each other had strengthened with each passing year.
Jenny came from humble beginnings, which was something he respected about her, and particularly her mother, who hadn’t had an easy time. Jenny’s mother Helene had come to the States to try and find opportunities she couldn’t in France in the turbulent days before the Second World War. She had arrived in New York in the spring of 1939, a penniless seamstress, hoping to find a job, which turned out to be not as easy as she thought. She was nineteen years old, spoke no English, and wound up working in a sweatshop on the Lower East Side, sewing beads on sweaters for pennies, barely making enough to eat and pay rent. Her own mother was a trained seamstress at the house of Chanel, working in haute couture after an apprenticeship of twelve years. Helene always said her mother was an artist, and readily admitted she didn’t have her skill.
Life in New York had been harder than she thought. She had been almost ready to give up and go home when the war broke out in Europe in September, and her mother told her to stay where she was. Life was even more arduous in France at the time, so Helene stuck it out at the sweatshop for three years, and then met a handsome young soldier on leave, at a party at the USO that a friend took her to in 1942. In the heat of passion and young love, and knowing he was shipping out, they married a week later, and Helene spent the rest of the war waiting for him to come home. Jenny had been born on a kitchen table on the Lower East Side in 1943. Her father came home two years later, and took his baby and war bride home to Pennsylvania. He had suggested to Helene several times while she waited for him that she live with his mother there, but she didn’t want to go without him, and be among strangers. And by then she had friends in New York.
Nothing had prepared Helene for life in his hometown of Pittston, Pennsylvania, when Jack Arden came home. His family had been coal miners for generations, which he had told her, but she had had no idea what that meant, after growing up in Paris with genteel middle-class parents. Her father had been an art restorer and worked at the Louvre, her mother a talented seamstress who worked for Chanel. And Jack was a kind, loving man who adored Helene and treated her like a jewel. But they had no money, and his life was hard. He went back to his job in the coal mines where he had worked before the war, along with his four brothers and several cousins. Both his uncle and father had died in mining accidents years before, and his mother was a thin, sad woman who worried about her sons and cried all the time. And whenever there were strikes at the mine, Jack and Helene had no money at all. The weather was brutal, and sometimes all they had for dinner was bread and mayonnaise. Nothing he had said to her had warned her of the hard- ships of their life. But she never complained. She loved him too much to do so. What she remembered most about those years, when she talked about it afterward, was never having enough to eat, and never getting warm. Her mother-in-law had died the year they got there, and Helene couldn’t get a job and leave Jenny alone.
Helene spent all her time taking care of her daughter and waiti...
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