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No Angel Hardcover – October 15, 2003

134 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Spoils of Time Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bestselling British author Vincenzi follows the tumultuous lives of London's Lytton family through the early 20th century in her first novel to be published in the U.S. At the story's center is Lady Celia Beckenham, a strong-willed, blue-blooded beauty who forces her parents to bless her marriage to the lower-ranking Oliver Lytton, employed in the "rough world of publishing," by getting pregnant. Taking her maternal duties in stride (her ugly baby, Giles, is initially "something of a disappointment"), Celia talks her way into an editorial position at Lyttons Publishing House, and quickly proves herself a fast learner with a head full of successful ideas. As years pass and more children arrive, Celia becomes known for her editorial skills and her familial devotion. But when Oliver returns after four years of fighting in WWI, her perfect world begins to crumble he is dismayed by the books Lyttons has published under Celia's and his sister LM's guidance, and he has lost all desire for his wife. Celia seeks comfort in the arms of a handsome new author, and as she falls into an all-consuming affair, she begins to contemplate leaving Oliver: "She would have to go; go with Sebastian. Anything else was madness. She explored the decision for a few minutes, waiting for uncertainty to return. It didn't." But as Celia struggles to make her life-altering decision, events around her cause her to see herself and her family in a new light and to ponder what her life would be like if she weren't a Lytton. Through life and death, exuberance and sorrow, honor and disgrace, Vincenzi perfectly captures the intricacies of her characters and creates plots captivating enough to keep readers eyes' glued to this long and hearty saga.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

First published in England, where it sold three-million copies, this story of a proto-feminist at the turn of the century makes the transatlantic transition quite well. When the story begins, Lady Celia is an 18-year-old woman who knows what she wants, and what she wants is Oliver Lytton, heir to a publishing company. She gets pregnant to get him and quickly becomes a talented book editor at his firm; soon career and family life collide. Vincenzi does a number of things very well, including creating love affairs that seem breathlessly real. She also does well at juggling the many subplots that make up a family saga, and she knows how to paint a backdrop: Oliver's life-shaking stint in World War I, though not exactly All Quiet on the Western Front , is deftly drawn. Somewhat less successful is her portrayal of several of the feminist characters, who, when displaying their liberationist tendencies, seem more twenty-first century than early twentieth. That aside, this sprawling melodrama is a natural for the Barbara Taylor Bradford crowd. Ilene Cooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 626 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Books; 1 edition (October 15, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585674818
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585674817
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (134 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #617,632 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

64 of 66 people found the following review helpful By Candace Siegle, Greedy Reader on September 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The addictive properties of this book are such that as soon as I put it down, I jumped up to order the two other books in the Lytton trilogy from the UK. Penny Vincenzi is a huge seller in Europe and it is easy to see why. "No Angel" has the full cast of vivid characters, urgent situations, and confident writing that make the family saga one of the most venerable and satisfying of fiction genres.
Despite the stylish 1950s fashion cover, "No Angel" is set between 1904 and 1928. Aristocratic Lady Celia has gotten herself pregnant so she can marry Oliver Lytton. The Lyttons may own a publishing house, but they are not of Celia's class. The match is a success, and easy-going Oliver and sparky Celia are a happy couple. But it seems inevitable that Celia should become restless and look for more to do than peek in on the children occasionally. She dabbles in social activism, which awkwardly ends with her fostering Barty, the little daughter of the slum family she's supposed to be observing. She carefully begins to take small part in the business of Lyttons, which is now run by Oliver and his sister LM. When the Great War breaks out, Oliver enlists, and it is up to LM and Celia to keep the publishing house that supports them all afloat.
With her brains, looks, and business sense, Celia would seem to be a slam-dunk for a charmed life. But no one's life is, least of all the Lyttons, who are as full of flaws, bad judgment, humor, and hope as anybody else. There is excellent period detail, with a fascinating look at the publishing industry in the early part of the century, social activism, family dynamics, World War I, fashion, and popular culture.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By on December 6, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Last year the Overlook Press, previously best known for publishing literary fiction and reissuing the Freddy the Pig children's books, took a gamble and published a big, popular book, THE COMPANY by Robert Littell. Its success prompted the publisher to tackle an equally ambitious project this year. This time, though, the novel is so-called women's fiction, and the subject matter is not the history of the CIA but the equally turbulent history of a single British family. The good news is that NO ANGEL, with its superb plotting and wide cast of characters, is just as compulsively readable as any spy thriller.
The heroine of NO ANGEL is Lady Celia, a lovely debutante at the start of the novel, who sets her sights on Oliver Lytton, heir to an up-and-coming publishing firm. The year is 1904, and Celia's very proper society family is appalled by her desire to marry into "new money." Even more shocking, though, is Celia's desire to work in publishing herself. Despite her husband's misgivings, Celia joins the firm as a junior editor and surprises everyone by being absolutely brilliant at her work, soon rising through the ranks to work alongside Oliver and his sister, the imposing but secretly vulnerable LM. In the meantime, Celia is also having babies, and the challenges she faces in balancing the work she loves with her growing family will ring true for many modern working mothers.
Celia and Oliver work hard to build a life for themselves in London and soon find themselves at the center of a fabulous social circle that includes prominent writers, artists and politicians. Then World War I begins, and everything changes. Oliver spends four years at the front lines and comes back a shadow of his former self.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Heather Negahdar on August 2, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is the first volume of a series.
Set in the publishing house of the Lyttons. named after the Lytton family, Ms. Vincenzi's new classic takes us into the lives of the Lytton, the Beckenham and the Miller families just before World War II. Celia Lytton is the main character who takes over the helm of the family business as the country goes to war. A strong-willed woman, Celia displays her good business acumen and makes Lyttons a successful and competitive establishment. As the family men leave England to fight in the war, there are butterflies in the womens' stomachs each time as they worry if and whether they would ever see their loved ones again. There are powerful women in this book who take their responsibility, virtually heading their households, dispersing their children from London up to country homes away from the bombs, and establishing temporary shelters for the the wounded men who return from the war in despair, and some total incapacitated.
As the novel weaves it's intoxicating magic, you will meet Oliver Lytton, Celia's kind husband who becomes a tiresome and tempermental soul much to Celia's agitation, causing her to look elsewhere for love. You'll also meet Margaret Lytton, Oliver's sister who helps Celia manage the publishing house. Then of course there are Celia's twin daughters, Adele and Venetia; two playfully wicked girls; silent Giles and her adopted daughter Barty Miller. With exciting authors at the publishing house, especially one particular one who makes a marked impact on Celia Lytton's life, this plot twists and turns with the reader never knowing what will take place on the following page. A remarkable classic read which has me now waiting in limbo for the this story has by no means finished....just merely paused...
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