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Dangerous? Only if you drop this endless sequel (No Angel, 2003) on your foot.

Meandering tale of privileged twins, penned in typically effulgent style, spanning several decades and a continent or two. Venetia and Adele Lytton, spoiled darlings of the Lytton family of publishing fame, prove to be among the most popular, charming, witty, and irresistible debutantes of the year 1928: not only are they pretty, they are unarguably pretty (a much overused word in Vincenzi’s lexicon, along with extremely, hugely, desperately, terribly, extraordinarily, hideously, dreadfully, and their poor little relation, very.) The twins pooh-pooh the ineffectual scolding of their concerned mummy, Celia, who pretends to disapprove of their modern manners—she’s scandalized when Venetia powders her perfect nose at the table! Though her daughters seem to be wasting their excellent education, Celia is pleased by their social success, perhaps because they are no match for her. “The beautiful, brilliant Lady Celia Lytton moved among the great literary figures of her day . . . .” But doesn’t she have a dark secret or something? Well, yes—but Vincenzi doesn’t get around to it until hundreds of pages later. The twins must grow up in an uncertain world, fall in and out of love with toffee-nosed prigs, learn that life isn’t always fair, explore New York when Lytton opens a branch there, etc. In the meantime, that silly Hitler—such a common man—is making stiff-armed salutes and rabble-rousing in Europe. And if someone doesn’t put a stop to his fascist manias, what will happen to all the dear little cuckoo clocks? Will the twins have to give up waltzing because of its Viennese connection? But they have other worries: Barty, a redoubtable bluestocking with a certain horsy charm, is jockeying for control of Lytton. Oh, and Celia’s dark secret? Kit, her fair-haired boy, doesn’t look so very much like her long-suffering husband, does he?

Trees of the world and dauntless readers, take note: The author gives warning on the last page that “this story is far from over.”

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2004
ISBN: 1-58567-482-6
Page count: 710pp
Publisher: Overlook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 2004


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