25 May 2009

Review: No Angel by Penny Vincenzi

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
ISBN-13: 9781585676071
Audio published by Phoenix Books, 2007
Challenges: A-Z Author, New Author, Support Your Library, 999, 100+
YTD: 40
Rating: B+


Julie P. 5/25/09, 8:43 AM  

I have a Vincenzi book in my pile. I probably should read it!

Louise 5/25/09, 8:46 AM  

Sounds like an interesting book, I think. Is it fiction or non-fiction? One of the periods that I want to know more about is the time around the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, and this sounds like a fairly easy read?

Beth F 5/25/09, 8:57 AM  

Louise: this was a very easy and fun read. It's fiction, but the details give you a real feel for the era.

Molly 5/25/09, 9:51 AM  

I am unfamiliar with this author - but you have inspired me to check out this series. Thank you for another great review!

Literary Feline 5/25/09, 10:26 AM  

This sounds like an interesting book, Beth. And such an interesting time period that brought so much change with it. Thanks for the wonderful review.

Whitney 5/25/09, 11:37 AM  

Thank you for another great review! Onto my wish list it goes.

bermudaonion 5/25/09, 1:41 PM  

I love a good family saga - I'll be looking for this one.

Belle 5/25/09, 2:47 PM  

Yes, definitely have to pull out the Vincenzi I have in my pile (I thought about it when I read your tea post last week and now I'm thinking the same thing!)

Meghan 5/25/09, 3:31 PM  

This definitely looks like a book for me. I love family sagas and I definitely need a change of historical period. Thanks!

Becca 5/25/09, 4:16 PM  

This looks like an interesting book. Don't you love how they leave something for you to discover in the next book in the series?

Anonymous,  5/25/09, 6:05 PM  

This sounds very interesting. Especially the changing publishing industry. I've added it to my list. Thanks for the recommendation!

Darlene 5/25/09, 7:07 PM  

I really enjoy Vincenzi's novels although I've not read this one. I'll have to check it out as it sounds quite good. Nice review!

S. Krishna 5/26/09, 12:16 AM  

I enjoyed Sheer Abandon by Penny Vincenzi, but haven't read another one of her novels since. This one sounds interesting, I'll have to give it a try! Thanks for the review!

Kim 5/26/09, 12:35 AM  

I loved this book! I was exhausted when I went into The Corner Bookstore on Madison Ave. in NYC and snapping at my kids, the bookseller sat me and asked me what I wanted to read, I told her something that will be a vacation and she recommended this book. Within seven pages I was gone. A true vacation between two covers. FYI, the second one is just okay and the third one can be skipped.

Beth F 5/26/09, 6:07 AM  

Kim: I love the way you found this book. And thanks for the heads-up on the other two in the trilogy; I'm glad to know that I don't necessarily have to run right out and track them down.

Jess 5/26/09, 8:18 AM  

This sounds like a great read -- thanks for the review.

Anonymous,  5/26/09, 3:35 PM  

Great review - I've reas the trilogy and rated it highly.

Unknown 5/26/09, 8:43 PM  

I am so glad you liked this book because I own both No Angel and Something Dangerous. Even though I haven't yet the time to read them it would be a complete bummer if you hated it or deemed it not worth our time.

Kailana 5/27/09, 1:54 AM  

This is not an author I feel the need to rush out and read, but this book has caught my eye a couple times. I might have to add it to the wish list!

Gerbera Daisy Diaries 5/27/09, 1:28 PM  

This sounds great...just added it to Goodreads.

Alix 5/27/09, 4:28 PM  

I loved this book and the next ones are just as good.

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