Iris Cooper has been singing ever since she can remember, hitting the high notes like no one else. When she is twelve, her father convinces the owner of a bar in Lake City, Texas, to let her perform, and she stuns the audience. In the ensuing years, never staying anywhere for long, father and daughter move from one dusty town to the next, her passion for music growing every time she takes the mike in another roadhouse.
But it is not an easy life for Iris with her father in charge and using her income to pay for gambling, women, and booze. When she starts to tour at age eighteen, she takes on a real manager. Yet he exploits her too, and the singers and musicians she tours with are really the only family she has. It is they who give Iris the courage to finally fly free, leave the tour, and follow her dreams.
After years of enduring the hardships of the road, exploitation, and abuse to do what she loves, Iris’s big chance comes as her talent soars. But at the top at last, Iris still has to fight every step of the way. In The High Notes, Danielle Steel delivers an inspiring story about finding the strength to stand up for yourself and your dreams, no matter what it takes.
Iris is a singing prodigy but unfortunately is raised by a selfish, alcoholic father who forces her to sing for both their suppers. When she finally breaks free of him, she still has to deal with dishonest and abusive managers as she tries to make her way in the music business. More than once, Iris has to walk away. What she eventually finds is a singing career and more.
I enjoyed Iris’s friendships, especially with Pattie and Boy, and her willingness to start a new life. There is an event that happens in the book that is similar to a music-related tragedy in real life, and I thought that was done very well. The fact that Steel’s heroine in this book is not rich and has to make her own way over many obstacles is a welcome departure from many of Steel’s other works. The romance is sweet and does not take over the novel. There is also a realistic look at family and how they can let you down. Family is often celebrated in books, and rightly so, but through Iris we see a realistic look at how the family you are born into doesn’t always have your back.
The first 15% of this book is hard to get into. Steel is known for breaking the rules, but the “telling instead of showing” doesn’t work as well for her in this book, and there are way too many run-on sentences. The book does get better, though, and I was able to eventually connect with it.
I received a free copy of this book from Delacorte Press via Netgalley. My review is voluntary and my opinions are my own.