No Angel is the first in the Spoils of Time series.
Lady Celia Beckenham may have been born into titles and money, but she fell in love with middle-class Oliver Lytton, whose father worked his way up from bookbinder to publisher. Celia, a headstrong and manipulative young lady, eventually got her parents' blessing to marry outside her social class. And thus the fates of the Lyttons and the Bechenhams were joined for the duration.
This family saga takes us from the turn of the twentieth century to the beginning of the Roaring Twenties and from England to the United States and the battlefields of the Great War. No Angel has everything you want a family saga to have, including great characters and lots of drama. The Beckenhams and Lyttons are realistically portrayed, each with his or her own personality and unique set of talents and flaws. Over the years, family members support each other, quarrel, misunderstand, betray, love, forgive, and hold grudges.
No Angel is also fascinating as a historical novel, detailing much of the rapid changes of a hundred years ago: We learn about women's suffrage, labor unions, social reform, business, medicine, and warfare. And through it all stands the family-owned publishing firm Lyttons. As a book lover and book professional, I was especially interested in the details of the changing publishing world: the set up of the offices, the interaction of the publishers with their authors and editors, the role of women, and the way the war affected the entire industry.
The story line moves at an appropriately varied pace. The comfortable days of a young marriage are offset by later household upheaval and the uncertainties of war. Vincenzi has created a very believable world. Although this is the first volume in a trilogy, the novel stands up well by itself. There are no cliff hangers, but not all of the plot lines have come to a conclusion. I will be looking for the other books in the series: Something Dangerous and Into Temptation.
I listened to the audiobook narrated by Carrington MacDuffie. The audio production was well done, and MacDuffie easily transitioned among the various accents. The pacing was comfortable and kept the listener progressing smoothly through the novel.
Penny Vincenzi has a website.
Print published by Overlook Press, 2004
Audio published by Phoenix Books, 2007
Challenges: A-Z Author, New Author, Support Your Library, 999, 100+