Overlook, Oct 2003, 26.95, 640 pp.
In the decade before WW I, aristocrat Celia meets Oliver Lytton, member of a giant publishing family. Though her family objects that his status is beneath her, Celia comprehends the changing early twentieth century world; she maneuvers her weak beau into marriage. When he goes off for war, she takes over the family business taking her sister-in-law as her only ally to the top with her.
Celia and Oliver have three children. The two daughters are as spoiled and selfish as their mom while the son is a chip off the old fatherly block being as weak as Oliver is. She also adopts a daughter of an impoverished friend, but when author Sebastian Brooke enters her life, Celia must decide what she really wants and at what price.
This family saga, reminiscent of the works of Barbara Taylor Bradford, highlights much of the first few decades of the twentieth century. The story line focuses on the impact of Celia's ambition and drive on anyone who lands in her ever-widening circle of influence. Though chapters seem a bit extended, fans of insightful historical dramas that center on people and families will enjoy Penny Vincenzi's powerful tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner