Tuesday, June 30, 2015

No Angel Book Review

No Angel by Penny Vincenzi

Click here for the Amazon product page.


Celia Lytton, a strong-willed, courageous beauty, defied her blue-blooded parents when she married her husband, Oliver, head of the great Lytton family publishing house. Celia soon finds herself to be not only a good mother but a sharp and creative editor with a knack for her husband's business. But when Oliver returns home after four life-shattering years at war, Celia must fight to reconcile her family and her career - and she must make difficult and dangerous choices about what it means to love. No Angel is a magisterial saga of power, family politics, and passion, a riveting drama and an irresistible love story set against the compelling backdrop of the First World War.

Review by Brittany:

Penny Vincenzi is the queen of writing delicious novels. I claim this after only having read two by her, but I would be hard-pressed to find anyone who could write sagas quite like she can. Not only are her characters and stories amazing, each sentence is like a delectable treat that I eat up as I read it.

What I loved about this novel (and her previous one that I've read) is that the main characters is merely one of the main characters. In the grand scheme of the novel, Vincenzi introduces the reader to the entire Lytton family and those acquaintances that they so often come into contact with. Each character gets an extended storyline so that it's easy to fall in love with them the same as it is with the main characters.

Some of the pluses to this book that are singular to this one are the backdrop of the First World War, the twenties, and the publishing world. The First World War plays a large role in the development of Celia's relationship with her husband, and with the development of her career. Without the War playing a role, the story would not have been the same. LM, Oliver's sister, is also largely affected by the War and the repercussions of caring about someone who had to fight. All of the female characters played large roles during the war, carrying Lyttons through and being the force holding their families together. The children in the novel are also affected by the War in different ways as well.

Reading about the publishing world was an interesting aspect. I don't know how historically accurate the publishing parts were, but it made the story enjoyable and it all felt believable. The different lines of books that Lyttons published, both before and during the War, interested me, and I loved reading about the business meetings that were held. It added an interesting aspect to the novel and was a bit of an unexpected career focus for a novel regarding the First World War.

Vincenzi writes novels that you have to devote time to dive into. With over 600 pages, this was quite a read, but I enjoyed every second of it. It's the kind of novel that a reader can just roll around in, and this particular book is the first in the Lytton trilogy. I'm looking forward to reading more about Lyttons.

Notable quotes:

"Marriage is a business and it works best when both parties see it that way."

She had often heard of people saying they didn't know how they would be able to bear things and felt impatient; you bore what you had to bear.

She looked back on the person she had been a year before, confident, in command of herself, in control of her life, with a man she loved and who loved her, and found it almost incredible that everything should have changed so dreadfully much.

The fact that he was occasionally hostile to her, sometimes critical of her, frequently irritated by her, was irrelevant. Without her his life, or at least the point of his life was negated; therefore if he were to carry on as a properly functioning human being, he needed her.

Just remembering when she had been young and in love with Oliver; when all they had asked was to be together, when to talk, laugh, plan their lives, make love, had been absolute happiness, when finding anyone else, or anything even remotely more important to them had been unthinkable. And wondering that such love, such closeness, such tenderness could disintegrate so hopelessly and so thoroughly, first into indifference and then into despair.

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