From Publishers Weekly
Expansively written and lushly detailed, this fast-paced sequel to No Angel
follows the Lyttons, a prominent British publishing family, into the mid-20th century. It's 1928 as the book opens, and the Lytton heirs apparent—Giles, Kit and their twin sisters, Venetia and Adele—are more absorbed in their personal lives than in steering themselves toward future stewardship of the family empire. Giles, ensconced in a mid-level Lytton post, feels a professional and social failure; Kit is bright, but only eight; and the beautiful 18-year-old twins are more concerned with their court debuts than with learning anything useful about publishing. Lytton foster child Barty Miller, who graduated from Oxford with honors, might take the business seriously; she shows remarkable intelligence and drive, but not the gratitude that Celia Lytton, senior editor of the house and matron of the family, would like. The business and family survive the Depression as the Lyttons begin publishing cheaper books, the twins lose their virginity, Kit grows into a fine young man and Giles gets married. Then WWII comes along and snaps, if not sense, then at least some backbone into the Lytton children. But is it too late? As family secrets and the Nazis both threaten to crush the house of Lytton, Vincenzi tightens her grip on readers, churning out surprising twists that not only resolve current conflicts but promise delicious future crises.
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Vincenzi continues the lush multigenerational and transatlantic family saga she began in the best-selling No Angel
[BKL S 15 03], picking up the story on the eve of the Great Depression. The Lyttons of London are enjoying the zenith of their heyday as the owners and operators of one of Britain's premier publishing houses. Shrewd and socially adept, aristocratic Lady Celia Lytton continues to dazzle both society and the business world with her legendary beauty and clever marketing ideas. Meanwhile, her somewhat musty husband, Oliver, seems stuck in the Edwardian era as he insists, with potentially devastating consequences to his company, that he will remain a gentleman publisher rather than the aggressive book hustler his wife envisions. Of course, most of the requisite rivalry and sexual sizzle is provided by the next generation of Lyttons as they reach their majority. Poor old Giles continues to disappoint his mother with his lackluster performance at the firm; seemingly empty-headed but beautiful twins, Adele and Venetia, flit around London and Paris until unsuitable romantic entanglements and unconventional careers take them both by storm; and brilliant former foundling Barty finds passion and professional fulfillment in the American office. As World War II ravages Europe, Vincenzi is at her best, painting vivid portraits of wartime London and stalwart British citizens making sacrifices and dodging bombs. Old characters die, new characters are born, and intriguing new plot twists are introduced, setting the stage for yet another meaty installment of this irresistibly sprawling multivolume yarn. Margaret FlanaganCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved