A first US appearance for British Vincenzi. (Overlook will also be publishing two of her previous novels: Something Dangerous and Into Temptation.)
Celia, headstrong daughter of aristocratic Edwardian parents, makes the breakfast kippers spin in their silver chafing dish when she decides to marry . . . out of her class. The object of her affections is tall, blond, handsome Oliver Lytton, the offspring of a distinguished London publisher and a rather louche actress, long since decamped. Celia’s outraged father points out that the man can’t even ride a horse. Her practical mother adds that marriage is a business (but neglects to mention that she has been carrying on a clandestine affair for years with a friend of the family’s). But Celia must and will have her way, and so she and Oliver marry, with only the family and a few loyal servants in attendance. Not the lavish society wedding Lady Beckenham had hoped for, but there’s no time to waste—and Celia is delivered of Giles, a robust if ugly-looking infant, a mere six months after the ceremony. Yet there is trouble ahead, and ere long, a silver candlestick will be hurled at the nursery door. Celia is profoundly bored by the unchanging routine of motherhood, and she wants to work. Oliver demurs. “I want you to be in our home, taking care of our son, not out in the rough world of publishing.” Then a collection of Queen Victoria’s letters proves a temptation too powerful to resist, and Celia offers an utterly brilliant suggestion: Shall they publish a simultaneous biography? Lo, a dazzling career begins within the hallowed and fusty walls of Lyttons as our Celia swans it through the ensuing years of tremendous social upheaval, WWI, decorous infidelity with a sexy author, and other proliferating subplots too numerous to count. Studiously avoiding latent snobbery, Vincenzi rounds out this baggy saga with a few working-class characters, whose hearts are in the right place even if their aitches are not.
Overlong and overwrought, though not without a certain veddy British charm.