Home is a contemporary story - contemporary for its early 70s publication time - but I wouldn't call it a romance. When I opened the book to find a first person POV I held back a groan. It's not a POV Steel utilizes often, but the last one of hers I read with it wasn't a favorite. If first person has an advantage here, though, it prevented the dreaded info-dump before the action.
This is a story about a divorced mother, Gillian, who freelances as a set stylist. If there's a more technical term for what she does, it's not mentioned. Gillian lives in early 70s San Francisco on the fringe of late-era hippiedom, pre-Watergate. She falls into instalove with a film director, Chris, who's only looking for a good time. Chris is basically a self-absorbed asshole who does what he wants and waffles between romantic fool and "Look, a doormat with a vagina." Gillian fades in and out of TSTL territory with the guy, and when she becomes pregnant his solution is to have her move against her will to the other side of the country. He's so freaked out he can't even be on the same coast - how badly do you want to punch this guy in the back of the head?
Without revealing the whole story, I'll share my likes/dislikes:
Steel's style wasn't all that bad. Later books of hers read like enhanced summaries - all tell no show. There's only a bit here, but for the most part the structure was good.
Not too many ellipses. Steel is the ellipsis queen, I swear.
Chris, the jerkiest jerk who ever jerked off
Gillian's behavior around him - she comes off as less assertive when he's around
Smoking and drinking while pregnant. It's a wonder we 70s babies aren't all f'ed up. I don't think Gillian kept an OB/GYN appointment through the whole book.
A sideplot with Gillian dating a playboy lawyer that didn't go anywhere.
An anti-gay slur late in the book that put me off
Neither a like or dislike, but an observation: with this first book you get a sense of the Steel formula readers will enjoy for the next four decades -
- Woman with job/romantic struggles
- Life-changing event that precedes the need for a job/move
- The last guy the heroine meets is typically The One.
- Ellipses aplenty
Having satisfied this requirement for the reading challenge, I can probably retire from Steel's readership. Home is her first, not her worst, so if you're looking for a gateway this is one to try.