No Angel

Written by Penny Vincenzi
Review by Ellen Keith

No Angel is the first volume in Vincenzi’s Spoils of Time trilogy (all three volumes have been published in the UK) and introduces the Lytton family and their publishing house in the years before, during, and after the First World War. Lady Celia is the ostensible protagonist of the story, forcing her parents to allow her to marry her love, Oliver Lytton, by becoming pregnant. Celia’s desire to get what she wants drives the story again and again as she seeks to get a job at her husband’s publishing company, takes young Barty Miller from her poverty-stricken family in order to give the girl a better life, and faces the consequences as a result of these decisions.

This is a meaty family saga in which Vincenzi pays equal attention to the other characters. Oliver’s sister, LM, is a workaholic with a secret private life. His brother Robert moves to New York and rather than disappearing, has a story of his own. Even Celia’s mother. Lady Beckenham, who could have been a cardboard character, reveals a sense of humor and surprising sympathy towards her daughter. The author is also adept at drawing a picture of England pre- and post-Great War. Fabianism brings Celia into the Millers’ lives, while socialism brings LM’s lover into hers. The ups and downs of the publishing business are just as fascinating as Celia introduces new series and discovers new authors, most notably Sebastian Brooke, who plays a major role in her personal life as well.

Vincenzi’s books have been bestsellers in the UK for years, deservedly so. I look forward to the next two books in the trilogy.