The Time of Our Lives
It is the 1950s and England is in the grip of coronation fever. In the seaside town of Kingshaven the King family are preparing to hold a grand party in their hotel, The Palace. Eldest daughter Libby is particularly looking forward to the celebrations, hoping that they will herald a new era for the family and a new lease of life for the hotel.
Young teacher Michael Quinn attends only out of a reluctant sense of duty, little knowing how a chance encounter with Claudia Dearborn will change his life. Claudia is the daughter of a refugee and feels as outcast from Kingshaven as Michael himself does. Although they immediately feel a strong connection to each other, he is newly married and she is still a schoolgirl. Problems are bound to ensue.
The Time of Our Lives is the first part of the Palace Trilogy, which will eventually follow key characters from the 1950s up until the present day. It is a strong opener, setting the groundwork and gradually introducing the reader to the large cast. The flavour of the 1950s is nicely developed, fully conveying the impression of a society emerging from the austere war years into a more colourful decade of freer lives and wider opportunities.
Inevitably, some subplots are more fully explored than others, just as some characters are more fully rounded than others. However, there is more than enough going on to keep the reader hooked from the first chapter, and I am certainly looking forward to reading the next instalment.