Book Review: Power Play
Author: Danielle Steel
Page count: 337
Power Play is a thriller, a love story and a family affair. It is a book that will keep you at it. As you read, you got immerse in it unimaginably. The book is themed on power dynamics and what some people do to secure positions, authority and reputation. It is a given that power like wealth is never enough for many that has taste it. The character of Marshall Weston has proven this to be a fact. He is the perfect type of guy who uses his power and position to live a double life. A mistress and a family. And weave first to pay a bimbo off the moment his clandestine one night stand was divulged, in a bid to avoid a scandal. His wife, a law graduate who threw her degree into the bin, stayed home, and be his corporate wife, support him on his career and be a mother to their children has become the victim of a liar, a cheat and man who’s always involve in sex scandals.
Unlike Fiona Carson, a female CEO, a single mother to two – who lives a decent, admirable and reserved. She spend her valuable leisure time with her children. Everyone who knew about Fiona would had come to her. She was divorced a long time ago and have since remain single for six consecutive years until Logan Smith showed up. A New York Times writer, who won series of Pulitzer for his interviews including the one he did with Mandela in South Africa. He’s brilliant and handsome a gentleman. A reporter with vigor and valor that he had turn-on Fiona’s six years shutdown emotion that lit up till the end. And made her worthy of love and life outside the corporate walls.
However, there seems to be some unconscious biases in the book with regards to how Danielle Steel portrayed men in power in contrast to women in power. Presenting Marshall Weston as a man who could not be faithful to his wife and trustworthy to his children. That female leaders do better than male leaders. The author crafted Fiona’s character as a modern woman, educated, intelligent with a well composed personality. She’s down to earth, hardworking and leaves nothing to be criticize for. She’s like the Thatcher of her own world when she had to fire Harding William, a male board chair who got involved with a journalist lady and eventually divulged the company’s sensitive information to her. violating his oath of secrecy.
Harding has never respected Fiona simply because she’s a woman, but more so because Fiona is a leader in a man’s world. The CEO of a multimillion dollar company with over thousand employees under her. The Author reminded us that, even in most difficult jobs of the word, women are eligible and can perform incredibly well as men – or even better. Fiona Carson had always faced bullies and unsolicited criticism from Harding William’s and sometimes receive personal attacks from him, even during board meetings. But he knew her strength when he’d gotten compromised and Fiona had her shot at him. She was yet respectful and professional as always.
Men like Marshall Weston are accustomed to scandals. His infidelity was attitudinal. How he lived a liar for over eight years, and has a method of surviving scandals (by paying off the ladies involved) and had worked for him until it does not anymore. It is fair to conclude that, most men in power has always turned deceitful, cunning and unfaithful as love partners. Marshall lived a double life, one in Washington with Liz and another with Ashley at California to the extent of having two babies out of wedlock. And he lived that reality for eight years. As in chapter 7-16, when his double life became clear to UPI Board, led by a female Chair Connie Feinberg. Marshall was compelled to make a choice between his mistress at Malibu or his corporate wife at Tahoe, in San Francisco (the immediate family of three).
At this juncture, Marshall had a plan but doesn’t know how to execute it. He either goes to California end things with the mistress and compensate her, as he always does. For him, flinging around was another business for him that he takes care of, like he does with corporate work, incase of an emergence of scandal. But Ashley wasn’t just any woman in his life. She loved him for eight years and gave him twins besides that and had been living with a hope that Marshall will marry her. Scandals affect companies in an adverse way that could erode the good reputation of such a company. As a result stockholders can retract their investments which is just bad for business. All these are amongst the legion of reasons why UPI cannot afford a scandal, especially from the CEO.
In chapter 18 – 22, Marshall Weston now found himself in a dilemma, a hot soup. The options are; to choose Liz, his family and the corporate wife that supports him and standby him in times of both hard and smooth, the one he legally married or to choose the girl of his dreams; the young Californian damsel Ashley Briggs. A young pretty lady in her prime and emotionally vulnerable. The young beauty he’s passionately attracted to, irresistibly in love with her as he claimed but spent eight years procrastinating to marry her, while enjoying the intimacy, the cuddling and the romance she renders. Marshall initially intended to lay off Ashley and continue with his family. But all these became impossible the moment he arrived in Malibu and made love to Ashley.
Intermittently, everything went alive once again. Hence, he resorted to Liz, the wife. After reaching home, he didn’t hesitate. He concluded that, Ashley is younger yet romantic and suited his needs as a CEO with untamed zeal for sexual life. But one cannot have it both ways, Ashley too does not trust him anymore. She’d known better and seen it all from Marshall when he made it crystal to her that his career was challenged because of his double life, and that he initially thought of leaving her instead of Liz. This served as a waking up call for her. For over eight years Marshall could not make the hard choice of divorcing Liz until now that his job is at stake. Similarly, now that Ashley’s childhood lover showed up, and they had started going out and have kissed twice, she begins to feel herself again. Unlike with Marshall, where she’s only a mistress for nights pleasure. She endured, until she could not.
Simultaneously, Marshall has already made his attempt and told Liz about Ashley and that he’s divorcing her for her. He never think for once how the other parties may be affected by the whole matter. His decision seems to be just for his only sake and anyone else. The children, both the mistress’s and the immediate family are already taken care of as he called it. His will has did that for him. Only the kinds of Marshall Weston would care little or nothing about the psychological and lifelong repercussions of breaking up a woman’s hearts, who had gave you forty years of marriage. And such kinds are everywhere; far and beyond America.
Ashley cast-off the chains and liberated herself. It was one day, as Ashley over thought the issue once again, she went nuts and go straight to UPI and blew it on Marshall’s face right in his office. She rant and vent to him that she’s not a back up plan or a family wrecker as he’d supposedly assigned her to be. It was hard for her but she went ahead with it and took the bull by the horn. After all, it became vivid that, Marshall didn’t love her in as much he claimed. Since Ashley did that, he never called or came around again to Malibu. Ashley went heavy hearted those days, but she finally got over it with Geoff around, the childhood lover.
Marshall got it all wrong, his believed in power and his successes made him made all the wrong decisions about life outside the corporate walls. All he had cared and loved was himself and his career and how to secure that. And whatever threatens that, it had to be crushed away. This time around, his position at UPI as CEO was massively threatened. It was later hard for him to stay after that he had an handsome offer at another company called Boston Technology, though a smaller one than UPI yet with parallel benefits or even more than he was receiving at UPI. He lost Liz, Ashley and his children to secure power and maintain his reputation as an invaluable CEO of his time.
Here’s where I got off foot with Danielle Steel, why must Marshall Weston, after all these misdemeanors in the corporate world, rise and shine again like a phoenix to gain such an offer from BT? His personal and moral conducts to me must matter as much as his professional conducts do. Marshall had been faulted morally, to had been involved in two sexual scandals; one is Megan Wheeler’s sexual harassments and then the double life with his mistress. To me, Marshall only deserves a dismissal and not a job offer.
By contrast, Fiona is the humblest kind of CEO portrayed in Power Play. She doesn’t fancy spotlight or publicity. Yet works very hard behind the scenes to scale up the NTA’s stocks. And she’s never involved with a man for six years. All her time is dedicated to corporate work and family. She’s by far and large an exceptional CEO in ‘Power Play’. Except to Harding William, the Chair of the Board of NTA who disapproved of her capabilities – because of his gender biasness. He’s a misogynist and a bully. Yet, she remain focused and ever determined to get the work done. Thus, there was no room for her to be involved in any scandal or some sort. The company’s board respects him so much and her reputation proceeds her in the corporate world. She is a well respected CEO in the corporate world as a matter of fact, many reporters, like Logan and her own sister admire her personality, and often quote her as an exemplary leader comparison to her male counterparts.
In spite of how she felt about Logan Smith and how intimately attracted they’d became off recent, she didn’t hesitate to confront him when she saw her picture in Wall Street Journal next to Marshall Weston, an article written by Logan. Because he thought Logan violated their rule “not to use her as a source, ever” because that was how they initially met. As Logan was looking forward to writing a book about male CEOs being berserks than female CEOs. Then they eventually became friends, as Fiona refused to be a source. But she read the WSJ paper for that morning. As they’d been spending nice times together as lovers. Which was for the first time in six years after she’d divorced.
Fiona saw her words verbatim in Logan’s bylines and got mad instantly. She waited for the man to come and she went raged on him unknowing that a source from UPI gave Logan those information about Marshall Weston. But one of the reasons Fiona confronted him was she was compared with Marshall. Which she doesn’t like. She doesn’t want to be on publicity. For the same reason she stayed in the shadows without an interview or alike. Unlike many male CEOs. Fiona is humbled even though a CEO cannot be unnoticed, but Fiona managed to keep a low profile. Such is a rare type of a leader. Often people view female leaders as arrogant, pompous and inconsiderate. Fiona Carson beat that.
As you left the pages of Power Play, you’ll concord with me that, female leaders tend to be more cautious, proactive, productive and humble at the helm of affairs. Some of the themes displayed in this masterpiece are intriguing, fulfilling, educational and didactical. Love is sometimes overrated, and power is a wheel, like a car the custodian is the driver. So the reality of power depends on how we wield it. Likewise, success is not only about accumulating wealth, but how such a wealth is spent. The character of Fiona teaches that powerful and successful people can yet be morally decent, professional mannered and humanly humble depending on the persona they seeks to depict for self. If there is anything to learn from this book, includes but not limited to power dynamics in the corporate world. And lifestyles of certain capitalists.
Another lesson is that how power is wielded by some of them. Through gender dimension, Fiona the female CEO, proved that if men can be CEOs, women can be too, even much better. That gender equity is workable. While Marshall the male CEO and Harding Williams depict men who use power to deceive women, especially young women and often got involved into sexual scandals. With their power and status, often feel untouchable and sexually flamboyant. As Ashley Briggs was once a staff of UPI where Marshall had been CEO; and that tells you as much as you need to know about their latter relationship. And Harding William was the Chair of NTA Board but never approve of Fiona Carson as CEO. And was cheating his wife with a reporter to whom he disclosed sensitive company information. This is a tale of two distinct characters in a familiar world. Lot to learn from!
P.S: I recommend this book for anyone interested in thrilling stories; of romance, love, family and the stakes involve in securing power at all cost.