Author: Penny Vincenzi
Published: April 3, 2012
Hardcover: 608 pages
Source: borrowed from the library
My Rating: 4.5 stars
Synopsis (from GoodReads): A privileged girl from a privileged class, Eliza has a dazzling career in the magazine world of the 1960s. But when she falls deeply in love with Matt, an edgy working-class boy, she gives up her ritzy, fast-paced lifestyle to get married.
By the end of the decade, however, their marriage has suffered a harrowing breakdown, culminating in divorce and a dramatic courtroom custody battle over their little girl. Also at risk is Eliza's gorgeous family home, a pawn in the game, which she can't bear to give up.
True to form, Penny Vincenzi introduces a devious cast of characters seemingly plucked from the pages of sixties- and seventies-era magazines, as she deftly maneuvers between the glamorous, moneyed worlds of fashion and advertising, and a heart-wrenching custody battle going on in the courtroom where the social mores of the time are on full display.
My Thoughts: I have never heard of Penny Vincenzi before I found this book while wandering around my library a few weeks ago. I read the description and decided to add it to my pile of books. A few days later, I sat to read it and became a bit disheartened when I opened it up and it had a list of all the characters in the novel (I always hate that in a book and tend to dismiss the book immediately). However, a few pages in, and I was hooked by the story (and the large cast of characters). I found myself rushing home to read this book and was staying up much later than I should have in an attempt to finish it. The story is so well written, starting with a few paragraphs that are told from Eliza, one of the main characters, narrating, wondering whether or not she should continue to work and lose custody of her daughter to quit her job, lose her identity, all so she can keep her. So with this foreshadowing, the novel begins with Eliza's debutante season. It follows her throughout her youth and into young adulthood as she gets her first job working in a magazine. You also get glimpses into Matt's life (he marries Eliza and they have a daughter). Vincenzi weaves a huge web with these characters and you are not easily extracted from it.
I loved how Vincenzi decided to write the novel. Most parts are told from Eliza's point of view, but parts are told from Matt's, or her parents, or godparents. It really gives you a great perspective on what is going on. And it doesn't always make sense at the time, but later in the novel, you realize why Vincenzi fed you that bit of information when she did. And as the novel progressed and you are witnessing the downward spiral of Eliza and Matt's relationship, you are sitting there, holding your breath. You know what's going to happen, but you don't want either of them to make a misstep and ruin it. It had me on the edge of my seat and I couldn't put the novel down.
Now, I loved this novel. In fact, half way through, I was already looking into what other books Vincenzi has published and if I could get them at my local library. The thing that ruined the novel for me was the ending. I just felt like the book could have been wrapped up sooner than it was and the ending that was published just ruined it a little bit for me. I still loved the novel as a whole and would recommend it to anyone who loves to get completely wrapped up in a story. I cannot wait to read more of Vincenzi's work in the future.