2020 Reviews · contemporary fiction · new release · women's fiction

New Release Book Review: Moral Compass by Danielle Steel

Title: Moral Compassmoral compass dmall

Author: Danielle Steel

Published: January 14th 2020

Publisher: Pan Macmillan

Pages: 320

Genres:  Fiction, Contemporary

RRP: $29.99

Rating: 3 stars

Saint Ambrose Prep has been the school of choice for the sons of the great and the good for over a hundred years. Now, for the first time, Saint Ambrose has just enrolled its first female students. While many of the kids on the campus have all the privilege in the world, some are struggling dealing with family, insecurity and loneliness. In such a heightened environment, even the smallest spark can become a raging fire.

The day after a Halloween party, a student lies in the hospital, seriously injured and with a dangerous level of alcohol in her blood. Only the handful of students who were there when she was attacked know what happened, and they have closed ranks. As parents, students, staff and the media attempt to establish the truth, no-one at Saint Ambrose will escape the fallout.

As the drama unfolds, those involved will reach a crossroads where they must choose between truth and lies, between what is easy and what is right, coming to rely on their own moral compass.

Moral Compass is a highly topical, thought-provoking story from the world’s favourite storyteller, Danielle Steel.


‘By the time the ambulance got to the hospital, all six boys were in a deep, drunken sleep, and Vivienne was still unconscious. And this was only the beginning. Their Halloween had changed all of their lives forever.’

Danielle Steel delves into the world of elite private schools, entitlement, teen drinking and rape in her latest production. Moral Compass is a dramatic story that spotlights entitlement, change, risk, recklessness, choice, blame, justice and redemption. Danielle Steel has her finger on the pulse in this timely novel.

In heart of Massachusetts sits an elite private school that has recently seen a big change. While this prestigious school was once only open to male students, it has decided to be more embracing and it has opened its doors to female students. While the students learn to contend with a mixed sex education, they also deal with the pressures of status, entitlement, pressure to perform, family problems and loneliness. There are strict rules to follow at Saint Ambrose Prep, with little opportunity to experiment with drink, drugs, or sex. However, a fateful Halloween party provides a one off opportunity for a group of students to rebel and let their hair down. One drink turns into another and they invite one of the new female students to join the party. The small party gets out of control very quickly, and it leads to the hospitalisation of one from this group. Keen to protect themselves and their reputation, the party group keeps their lips sealed as to what happened that night. This incident has far reaching effects. It impacts the victim, the staff of Saint Ambrose, the students, parents, police, investigators and eventually the judge who has to preside over their final fate. The Saint Ambrose case throws up lies, truth, blame, moral questions and justice. It is problematic from start, for all involved. Can the truth be attained and a sense of what is right for the victims, as well as the perpetrators?

In the world of #metoo and the airing of such cases as the Central Park Five, Danielle Steel has approached her latest novel with timely relevance. The scenario she presents, of a teenage girl from an elite school left with severe alcohol poisoning who is raped, is a compelling case. I would even issue a trigger warning for this one. It is an upsetting incident, where a young woman is clearly taken advantage of in an opportune situation. What angered me most and also left me with a sense of sorrow was that no one wanted to take the blame, or show any sense of moral responsibility. The poor victim is left for dead, as the group does not want to get into trouble. Steel draws in the bystander effect with this case, which angered me.

With a setting based in a private elite school, it throws another layer to the story. The students have a host of issues to contend with, before the incident occurs. The pressure to perform, loneliness, expectation and privilege all circulate. When the parents become involved, this saddened and sickened me even more. Rather than care for the victim, they were concerned with protecting their child, family name and future. Buying their way out of this case became another issue to contend with, which enabled me to see why Steel labelled this novel ‘moral compass’. There are many questions of mortality and humanity to consider in this complex case.

As I have come to realise with Danielle Steel novels of late, the bones of this novel are there to make it a truly compelling read. However, the lack of depth and exploration of the characters (there are a fair few) made this book a substantial, but not a stellar read for me. There are plenty of interesting facts pertaining to the legalities of this case, which Steel seems to spill out, rather than intricately explore further in her novel. The dialogue could have been extended, along with the story threads, especially in regards to the reactions and feelings of the perpetrator and victim of the crime, it seems brushed over unfortunately.

The case unravels in a closed and believable fashion, all within just under three hundred pages flat. This is generally the formula we come to expect with a Danielle Steel book.  Moral Compass is a novel that will make you consider your thoughts on morality, ethics, virtue, justice and restitution. Moral Compass is an issued based story, that will draw in contemporary fiction fans.

Moral Compass was published on 14th January 2020 by Pan Macmillan. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of Moral Compass, Danielle Steel, visit here.

*Thanks extended to Pan Macmillan for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.

6 thoughts on “New Release Book Review: Moral Compass by Danielle Steel

  1. Great review, I’ve been reading the same sort of thing about her work lately and I’ve been advising my mum to get them from the library rather than buy them these days. She used to buy every one, but the reviews over the last 12 months haven’t been inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree Claire, churning out as much as 6 per year definitely has an impact. I find her latest ones sound great from the premise, or begin great and then it goes downhill! Please encourage your mum to get these from the library!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Issues based modern books can sometimes come across as a bit “preachy”. I have forgotten why I stopped reading Danielle Steel books some years ago. Some modern books and plays too try to deal with too many issues at once. I personally like character driven books with fully developed characters, especially some 19th century ones, where issues of the time are dealt with but the characters who are involved with them are more important than the issue. They are not just “dropped” into the story after the author has decided what issue/s he/she is going to write about.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by and offering your thoughts, I have found this a refreshing comment. I do agree with your thoughts very much. This review may prompt you as to why you stopped reading steel a few years ago!


  3. In my opinion I think Danielle Steel pumps out too many books a year, as the saying goes less is more. Sometimes her writing voice is a tad annoying, I think her books could sound better if she didn’t pump out so many per year, taking more time to perhaps improve some parts of her novels if she wrote say, only two a year.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I have to agree Sue, there were 6 releases last year alone! I seem to fall into the trap of liking the blurb and they start off well and then they fall down. I have to agree with you, yet she is always on the top ten bestseller lists!


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