Thursday, September 2, 2010

No Angel by Penny Vincenzi

No Angel is a soap opera masquerading as a novel and as a soap opera, it's fantastic. Each dramatic scene could be played out on noontime television with the "da da dum" suspenseful music in the background. It's totally absorbing and addicting.

The first book in the Spoils of Time Trilogy, No Angel follows the Lytton family through multiple generations. The story covers the lives of each family member, the good and bad bits, the perfect moments, and the indiscretions. At the center of this complex family is Lyttons, a family-owned publishing house. While not all members of the family are employed by Lyttons, publishing plays a central role in all their lives. It's the force that pulls our heroine, Celia Lytton, out from behind her socialite status, putting her behind an office desk instead. It brings people together in love and serves as a microcosm for how WWI affected life.

The characters are fully developed and you really get to know them through their experiences, thoughts, and feelings. The writing does more than just tell a story, it chronicles the lives of an entire family - parents, children, in-laws, siblings, spouses, and lovers. The picture feels complete. All the drama could have happened to anyone, anywhere, and at any time, but it's especially interesting to get an inside look at an early 20th century publishing house while feeling the everyday effects WWI had on people's lives.

No Angel is an engaging and exciting book - more than just a beach read, but perfect for someone looking for a novel to escape into.

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