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FICTION : WANDERLUST by Danielle Steel (Delacorte: $17.95; 382 pp.).

August 31, 1986|Meredith Babeaux Brucker

They don't call these soapies in the book business for nothing. The formula consists of placing good characters in an interesting situation, and then repetitiously examining every facet of that situation at a TV-soap-opera pace. Here the repetition is carried to new heights. On one page: "It was a side of her he had never seen," then, "It was a side of her he had never seen before." On another page: "He was a little drunk," then, "He was more than a little drunk." Or: "She was constantly taking pictures. . . . She was taking photographs constantly."

The blue pencil of a careful publishing house editor would have helped this book, which is written in a dictation-machine style. The story is that of a couple who share a common passion: for travel to exotic places. They are kept apart by the most tenuous of obstacles, and at one point spend 35 anguished pages in farewell, only to decide not to part. But for some, soapies are an addiction; devoted Danielle Steel fans will buy and enjoy "Wanderlust" regardless of the thin story plotted without structure, meandering here and there in page-long paragraphs, taking odd and obviously unplanned turns, with a wanderlust all its own.

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