Bestselling British author Vincenzi follows the tumultuous lives of London's Lytton family through the early 20th century in her first novel to be published in the U.S. At the story's center is Lady Celia Beckenham, a strong-willed, blue-blooded beauty who forces her parents to bless her marriage to the lower-ranking Oliver Lytton, employed in the "rough world of publishing," by getting pregnant. Taking her maternal duties in stride (her ugly baby, Giles, is initially "something of a disappointment"), Celia talks her way into an editorial position at Lyttons Publishing House, and quickly proves herself a fast learner with a head full of successful ideas. As years pass and more children arrive, Celia becomes known for her editorial skills and her familial devotion. But when Oliver returns after four years of fighting in WWI, her perfect world begins to crumble—he is dismayed by the books Lyttons has published under Celia's and his sister LM's guidance, and he has lost all desire for his wife. Celia seeks comfort in the arms of a handsome new author, and as she falls into an all-consuming affair, she begins to contemplate leaving Oliver: "She would have to go; go with Sebastian. Anything else was madness. She explored the decision for a few minutes, waiting for uncertainty to return. It didn't." But as Celia struggles to make her life-altering decision, events around her cause her to see herself and her family in a new light and to ponder what her life would be like if she weren't a Lytton. Through life and death, exuberance and sorrow, honor and disgrace, Vincenzi perfectly captures the intricacies of her characters and creates plots captivating enough to keep readers eyes' glued to this long and hearty saga. (Oct.)
Forecast:Vincenzi has sold more than 3.5 million copies overseas, and Overlook is giving this title a big push with a 75,000 first printing and solid ad dollars; handselling to those looking to curl up with a happier doorstopper than last year's excellent but dark Crimson Petal and the White should also help.