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The Best of Times Paperback – June 22, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; 1 Reprint edition (June 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767930851
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767930857
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.3 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #512,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Bestseller Vincenzi's diverting if charmless latest delves into the lives of a massive cast brought together by a multicar accident on a London highway. The brisk, journalistic style makes it hard to fall for any of the characters, whose lives are filled with high and low drama: a truck driver racked with guilt over the accident; his terrified passenger, who flees the scene; a successful doctor trying to break up with his mistress; a groom and best man already late for the wedding due to scandalous circumstances; and a widow headed to reunite with a past love. After the crisis, their lives intertwine tangentially as, among others, the best man starts a relationship with an ER doctor, the truck driver's wife becomes close with the widow, and the mistress falls for the farmer whose land overlooks the accident scene. The story brings them all back together at the inquest, the cause of the accident is revealed and apologies are made. Though everyone gets their predictably happy ending, the way the obvious resolutions drag out makes this something like a once-enjoyable guest who has long outstayed his welcome. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

On a sweltering Friday afternoon in August, traffic is backed up on the M4 highway outside of London when a truck jackknifes across five lanes and causes miles of confusion and chaos. As the ambulances arrive, lives are changed and stories are unfolded. Barney Fraser is a harried groomsman trying to get his friend to the church. Mary Bristow is a widow hurrying to meet the dashing American soldier she turned down during the war. William Grainger is a charming young farmer who sees it all happen from his cow pasture. Jonathan Gilliatt is a star gynecologist trapped in the car with his mistress Abi, who is furious at being dumped. Emma King is the eager young doctor on call at the hospital when the crash occurs, and Patrick Connell and Georgia Linley are the truck driver and his hitchhiker on the way to an audition, the only ones who know what truly happened to make the truck spin out of control. In her newest big, elaborately detailed novel, best-seller Vincenzi weaves an intricate, dramatic, and intense tale about irrevocable butterfly-effect consequences in the lives of a compelling cast of characters. --Hilary Hatton --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

This book will hold your attention from first page to last.
shehar
My biggest complaint with this book, though, is that it was WAY too long with characters and sub-plots that were just filler material.
Pulchrakia
I was totally enthralled with the stories, and the characters, who are all so well developed.
Heather A. Teysko

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on July 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Penny Vincenzi is known for her sweeping, dramatic, often surprising sagas that usually focus on large families and associates, groups of people who have long-standing connections by virtue of blood or business (and sometimes both). In her latest novel, Vincenzi takes a startlingly different approach. Here she uses her tried-and-true approach of focusing on intersecting lives, but the lives of random strangers intersect (sometimes literally) following a harrowing traffic accident on Britain's M4 motorway between London and Wales.

THE BEST OF TIMES opens with a journalistic-style account of the fictional accident and then steps back in time, as it explores the lives of some of the key players in the accident, examining who they are and outlining how they happened to be on that particular road at that pivotal time.

At the center of the story is handsome doctor Jonathan Gilliatt, a happily married father of three who is carrying on an affair with Abi, a sexy younger woman (who happens to be in his car at the time of the accident). How will he explain her presence to the police, the newspapers --- and his wife? There's also eager groom Toby and his best man Barney, rushing to get to the church in time for Toby's wedding to Tamara, but delayed by a top-secret errand that would destroy Tamara if she knew of it. There's Mary, an elderly lady heading to London to reunite with the love of her life, an American man she met during World War II. Both of them are widowed, now finally free to be together after 60 years apart. And there's Georgia, an aspiring (but ambivalent) actress on the way to the audition of her life.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Heather A. Teysko VINE VOICE on August 15, 2009
Format: Hardcover
If you would have asked me anywhere in the first 400 pages to give a one-word description of The Best of Times, I would have said "gripping." I was totally enthralled with the stories, and the characters, who are all so well developed. It reminded me very much of the movie Love, Actually where there are lots of storylines that all flow together and culminate at the end with a feel-good-heart-warming moment that restores your faith in love. But if I'm being really honest, it did drag just a bit for me in the last 50-75 pages or so. The storylines were being neatly tied up, and I thought there was a lot of filler. That being said, I loved the characters, the story was great, and for the first 400 pages or so, it really kept you guessing. It was an interesting premise - taking a horrible tragic accident and examining how it affected all these different lives. And I really enjoyed how the author went into each person's perspective when she was telling their story. It was very believable, and rang true for the most part. Some of the characters seemed a bit stereotypical, but it wasn't enough to make me not enjoy it.

All in all, it was a great ride, that could have been about 5-10% shorter for me to really have given it five stars.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By J's Wife on September 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
Ok, this book had some great reviews so I went for it.

I'm sorry, I just don't get what's so great. It dragged on. It was mundane. It was predictable.

I typically can finish a novel in 2-3 days if I love it. This one took me 3 WEEKS. I had to force my way through.

Now, I'm wondering how many Americans loved this book. Maybe it's a Brit thing? It was slow - I've never READ beating around the bush quite like this. Too many characters were introduced to have any sort of connection to each one. I knew what was going to happen, it was sit-com predictability. You know this person is going to shack up with that one, you know this one is going to die & that one is going to be pregnant. You KNOW.

I give this book one star. I'm so sorry I paid money for it. Today, I'm off to the used bookstore hoping to get some money back on it. Pathetic.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Anissa Annalise on May 29, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
I have mixed feelings about this one. I decided to read this along with a couple other books over the long holiday weekend. I'm glad I had other things to read. I quite loved the first half & thought the author did a great job with most of the characters & also the accident we are shown in the opening of the book. And then the second half happened. Or didn't so much and just meandered along until I have to honestly admit, I was skimming for resolutions for my favorite characters. I'm positive that's not a good sign & that's not how I like to get through my books. On the upside, I was compelled to at least get to the end to see how my favorites fared but that's not enough for me to give this one more than a middling star grade. Another thing that diminished my enjoyment was that I had the BBC series "Collision" (Masterpiece Contemporary in the US) running alongside in my mind. That's not the author's fault but they were so similar, I couldn't help the meld. I have other Penny Vincenzi books on my bookshelf & will gladly give them a read but this one is unfortunately not going to be a favorite.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By shehar on August 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Another great book. Story and character development are outstanding. This book will hold your attention from first page to last.
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