I must say, I’m feeling a bit like the narrator and his wife in Clement Moore’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas ~ you know, the part where he says “Maman in her kerchief and I in my cap were just settled in for a long winter’s nap.”
Doesn’t that sound delicious?
Especially after stuffing myself with turkey and homemade cornbread dressing (my Southern grandmother’s recipe), creamy sweet potatoes, fresh steamed green beans, pumpkin pie with whipped cream…egad, my blood stream is flooded with tryptophan! No wonder my eyelids are heavy and my head feels like a bowling ball atop my neck.
So I’m tucked into my cozy chair with a real potboiler of a novel, forgoing the holiday fare on television and straining my eyes to devour the small print of this most excellent fiction.
I can’t recall when I encountered the work of British novelist Penny Vincenzi – it might have been on a trip to Toronto, Canada, for her work wasn’t available here in the states until recently. Nevertheless, it was some years ago when I picked up a fat paperback entitled No Angel. I didn’t know it was the first in a trilogy of novels (The Spoils of Timeseries) about the tempestuous Lytton family, but I hastily finished devoured it, and was still hungry for more. Luckily, I was not disappointed, for the remaining two novels continued this family saga throughout several more decades of the 20th century, replete with romance, adventure, politics, and scandals galore.
Every once in a while, I thoroughly enjoy immersing myself in a good old fashioned blockbuster of a tale, and Vincenzi’s novels never disappoint. Her characters are realistic, her settings are intriguing, the romantic bits are – well, steamy – and the plot lines thicken considerably, keeping you turning pages long past your bedtime.
So when my friend Millie told me she had just finished The Dilemma, and asked if I wanted to read it, I snatched it gratefully from her hands. Just the thing for a long weekend, when about the most energetic thing I intend to do is spread mayo on my turkey sandwich.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m back to the book. When we last left our heroine, she had just come face to face with the man she was to fall in love with, the man who would change her life forever…
The Dilemma, by Penny Vincenzi
first published in the US in 2008 by The Overlook Press