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No Angel by Penny Vincenzi
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Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
Despite some faults, I enjoyed this book a great deal and look forward to reading the rest in the trilogy. The main character, Celia, marries into a publishing family and even manages to become a formidable figure in the firm even though this trilogy starts out taking place in the early part of the 20th century: some male members go off to World War I, and some other events of the times are woven throughout such as the sinking of the Titanic.

On page 23: "Celia was a superb proof reader; she never missed a single typographical or grammatical error while remaining sensitive to every writer's style. She even quietly pointed out errors in detail or sequence, such as when a character left the house on foot and yet arrived at his destination by hansom cab, or had a father who died a few months before the onset of a fatal illness. The first time she noticed a mistake of this kind, she was shocked, surprised that a powerful creative intelligence could co-exist with such incompetence. Oliver told her it was extremely common."

In places, this book reflects this to be a truth. One I noted early on was the disparity of when Celia's brother-in-law Jack was supposed to have been born -- Celia and Jack often comment on how they are the same age (as in born in the same year), but doing the math, they are a few years older than they're supposed to be. Celia was supposed to be 19 in 1905 when her oldest child was born, but Jack was one year old in 1879. If 1879 is correct, then Celia (and Jack) would have been 26 in 1905, not 19.

Another possible error pertains to one character, Billy, who enlists himself in WWI: "He was only seventeen and a half, but the need for men was so urgent now that ages were not always checked. Bill was a big boy, he could easily be taken for sixteen." (p. 207) . This doesn't make sense -- why would it benefit Billy if he looked younger than he actually was? I'm sure that the author intended for him to pass for eighteen.

Another thing that bugs me is the cover of my hardback edition. The lady on the cover is wearing an outfit from the wrong era. Part one of this trilogy ends in 1920, and the outfit (and the cars behind her) hail from the 1940s or so. Sigh -- this is a big pet peeve of mine -- historically wrong covers -- but not one that prevents me from enjoying a good story. As I understand it, most authors have little say about what goes on the covers of their books.

Characters in this book tend to talk briskly. As in, " "He's perfectly allright," said LM briskly" (p. 547). There are many, many "said briskly" instances in this book.

It may seem petty, my nitpicking, when I reiterate that I really enjoyed this book. It was hard for me to put it down and I'm still thinking about the characters, a few days after finishing. I am going to get the second volume in this trilogy as soon as possible. Author Penny Vincenzi has written several other novels in addition to this series, so I may keep my eyes out for those -- but let me see what I think of the rest of the trilogy first. I do hope that there'll be fewer usage of the word "briskly", though :-) . ( )
1 vote ValerieAndBooks | Feb 18, 2015 |
Absorbing saga of fictional British publishing powerhouse family, the Lyttons, from the early 20th century through the 1920s. Strong-willed complex characters drive the drama in unexpected directions. Sympathetic portrayals throughout, even of less likable characters.

I devoured this over two days, staying up the first night until 3 AM. WW1 is one of my favorite time periods to read about, and I was fascinated by the inner workings of a publishing house. I couldn't wait to see what happened next with this family. ( )
  fiadhiglas | May 3, 2011 |
No Angel is the first in a trilogy about Lytton’s publishing house, especially Celia, a young girl who marries into the family in 1905 by getting herself pregnant. This particular book covers the Edwardian period up until the 1920s.

It’s a great story, with some great characters, not the least of which is Celia herself. She’s not the most likeable character; indeed, sometimes I found myself wishing she wasn’t so headstrong, so spoiled, so determined to get what she wants no matter what. But you also have to admire a woman like Celia, despite her faults. The author’s descriptions of the publishing industry are very detailed, though I thought at times that she was describing the modern publishing industry rather than that of the 1920s.

The plot moves swiftly; therefore, this book is an incredibly readable one. The author is very fond of the “in the nick of time” school of writing—for example, Celia and Oliver are just about to go on a voyage on the Titanic, and one of the children gets sick… and then nobody tells Celia about it, until the son does, on the eve of departure. I understand the motive behind writing like this, but after several instances of this, I got a bit tired of it.

There are also a few moments where I just didn’t believe it. For example, right out of the blue, Celia decides to up and join Maud Pember Reeves’s Fabian Society. Her efforts lead her to the random adoption of Barty, a young girl who quickly becomes a part of the Lytton family. I just didn’t buy the whole thing, especially since the Miller family seemed very stereotypical and their home a very cleaned-up version of the real thing. And I just didn’t like the relationship between LM and her working-class lover, something that probably wouldn’t have happened in real life. Despite the things I didn’t like about this book, however, I actually did enjoy reading this book. It’s rather soap opera-ish in many places, but it’s an easy read. ( )
1 vote Kasthu | Jun 8, 2010 |
One of my favorites. I fell in love with the Lytton family within 10 pages..especially Celia. Her take charge attitude and ability to deal with any given situation was refreshing, especially considering the times she lived in. I am a huge fan of Victorian London fiction, as well as family "sagas", so this book suited to a T.
The book is the first of a trilogy, which only gets better as it goes along. They are not short reads, but quite nice for a bit of escapism. Another plus is they are easy to start, and do not take long to "get into".
I definitely have recommended this book before and recommend it now to anyone who enjoys a book with numerous characters and narrators, and loves historical fiction. ( )
  ropes24 | Aug 9, 2009 |
I enjoyed this book overall. It is set in the early half of the 1900's which I loved. The main character, Celia Lytton, is one of those characters who has certain characteristics that you admire and want to emulate (strength and brains in a time when women weren't expected to display those qualities), but has her downfalls too. The rest of the cast of characters only add to the appeal of this book. Each different, with their own quirks and strengths. Great book. ( )
  sringle1202 | Jul 14, 2009 |
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'I want no angel: only she'
First World War poem, Anonymous
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For Paul: with love. Not to mention huge appreciation for some particularly crucial structural advice.
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Celia stood at the altar, smiling into the face of her bridegroom and wondered if she was about to test his vow to cherish her in sickness and in health rather sooner than he might have imagined.
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Book description
Celia Lytton, strong-willed, tough and courageous, moves through life making difficult and often dangerous decisions - with the most far-reaching consequences for everyone. For her husband, Oliver, head of the great family publishing house of Lyttons; for Sylvia Miller, whose life of relentless poverty is transformed by Celia's intrusion; for Oliver's daunting elder sister, who is not all she appears to be; and for Sebastian Brooke, with whom Celia makes the most dangerous decision of all.
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Routinely making decisions that have dangerous consequences, strong-willed aristocrat's daughter Celia Lytton sets in motion a series of events during World War I that have a particular impact on her family.

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