Something Dangerous

Written by Penny Vincenzi
Review by Ellen Keith

Something Dangerous is the second novel in Vincenzi’s Spoils of Time trilogy featuring the Lytton family and their London publishing house, now pre-and post-World War II. Although the ostensible focus of this installment is the Lytton twins, Adele and Venetia, Vincenzi once more pays equal attention to all of her characters, allowing no one to fade into the background. Adele and Venetia, who had appeared as rather spoilt and shallow in the first novel, No Angel, reveal unexpected strength as Adele flees Nazi-occupied France with her two children by her French lover. Venetia copes with her husband’s infidelity by finding the brains underneath her beauty through a job at the family publishing house. Celia Lytton, the matriarch and protagonist of No Angel, continues to inspire both admiration and bemusement as she flirts with Fascism, tries to conceal family secrets to no avail, and fights to bring the publishing house in line with the times. Barty, the young girl whom Celia had taken from her poverty-stricken East End family to raise, has grown up and becomes a force to be reckoned with in the publishing world. She moves to New York to work in Lytton’s American branch and falls in love with the mercurial Laurence Elliot.

Vincenzi vividly recreates England before, during, and after the war. The hazards of war are felt by all family members, male and female, as Barty joins the ATS and Adele tries to get word of her French Jewish lover. The author is also skilled at making references to occurrences in the first book without being heavy-handed, and although the novel has too many characters to name here, she does not stint on fleshing out every one. I wait with much anticipation for the third novel in the trilogy and hope Vincenzi gains the popularity in the US that she so deservedly has in the UK.