This is my first Penny Vincenzi novel. It is a book that is hard to put down once you start reading. Much of the story catches one by surprise as the author weaves a tale that allowed both minor and major characters to unravel crucial parts of the story.
No Angel is one of those sweeping family sagas focused on the individuals connected with the (the best I can tell) fictional Lytton publishing company. Like any good family saga, it begins with the patriarch of the clan, the elder Mr. Lytton learning the business as a printer and bookbinder. Once in business for himself, Lytton Printing would thrive and once it takes on a publishing element it becomes famous.
With time the Lytton siblings, Oliver and LM take over the business. Of course, their success is made possible with the marriage of Oliver to royal socialite and schemer Lady Celia. Her knack for business and ideas bring the company to full power as a giant in the London world of publishing. Even as her husband Oliver is pulled into the battle with the Hun in the trenches of France, Celia and her sister-in-law LM manage to keep the publishing house afloat.
Like any dynasty, we experience the company soaring to great heights thanks to the publishing of new exciting authors, but we also see their wings clipped by setbacks. One unvetted author leads to scandalous allegations that threaten to rock the foundation of the company.
On the personal side of the Lytton family, adultery, an out of wedlock child, questionable parenting techniques and health difficulties also play major parts in the daily lives that shed much light on how the family copes.
This novel is over 600 pages (for part one of a trilogy) and filled with the technology of printing presses, wonderful credits to the vehicles of the era and of course, fashion is also highlighted as it provides the reader with a sense of the times. Every small detail engrosses the reader further into a crescendo of suspense until the very last pages of this masterful novel.
PS: Book 2 in the trilogy is Something Dangerous, and Book 3 is Into Temptation.