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Penny Vincenzi: The Decision
Penny Vincenzi's latest novel The Decision tells the story of Eliza Fullerton-Clark and Matt Shaw who live in London in the 60s. Eliza is a society girl, carving out a career for herself in the fashion industry and Matt becomes a millionaire by working in the property market.
Introduced by Eliza's brother, they get married, but it's not long before their seemingly-solid marriage goes downhill. Eliza wants to keep pursuing her career, but Matt's old-fashioned notions require her to stay at home and raise their only girl, Emmie.
The entire story is pretty much given away in the synopsis. It feels like the author is robbing you of the element of surprise; you already know they are getting a divorce. The only part that the author holds back on until the end of the novel is the results of the court battles over custody of their daughter. Emmie is a spoiled brat of a child; a fact that makes it difficult for readers to sympathize with her.
There are many subplots seamlessly woven into the main plot, adding richness and depth to the story. Readers might even find themselves more interested in the fates of the secondary characters than Eliza's and Matt's.
Vincenzi's writing is laden with poignancy. She accurately describes how marriages that are often fuelled by so much passion can gradually deteriorate into a battle. In this aspect, Eliza and Matt are extremely relatable.
The Decision is such a long read, but that doesn't detract from its enjoyment. The longer pages only mean additional engagement with the characters' lives, but it also means that Vincenzi ends up repeating herself quite often.
The story captures many of the time’s ill-founded ideas against women, but it also includes many female characters that challenged the ideologies of the 60s. Louise, Matt's business partner, is a headstrong woman who won't let anything come between her and her goals, while his sister Scarlett is another female character who does things her own way.
The author takes readers back to the 60s and offers vivid portraits of different aspects of life back then; however, the plot could have easily fit into any other time.
Vincenzi's avid fans might find The Decision a tad disappointing. It's not quite as addictive as the rest of her novels, and it generally sticks to the author's pattern, making it even more predictable.
The Time of My Life tells Lucy Silchester's story with a fairytale-like twist. Her life isn't exactly as she wants it. She broke up with her boyfriend of five years, lost her swanky apartment, her high-end job and is now struggling in a new job that she absolutely loathes. Alienated from her family and friends, her life is in tatters.
A gold envelope lying on Lucy's carpet invites her to an appointment with her life, which Ahern personifies as a character named Cosmo. Ahern paints Cosmo as as a real person that Lucy gets to meet and talk to. After suffering from Lucy's negligence, her life decides that a face-to-face meeting is in order. Skipping one appointment after the other, Lucy finally decides to have a heart-to-heart with Cosmo.
Lucy is an unlikable character; it's extremely difficult to sympathise with her. Her immaturity and obsession with trivialities might cause you to throw your arms up in exasperation. She concocts lies that cause her life to spin out of control; harmless little lies that turn her life upside down. On the other hand, Cosmo is a pleasantly amusing character. At first, he arrives as a dishevelled, poorly-groomed man, mirroring Lucy's own life and gradually begins to smarten up as Lucy puts her life back together.
The Time of My Life introduces an intriguingly unfamiliar concept of personifying Lucy's life outside of her as a character. It offers a vivid demonstration of what happens when one stops paying attention to the things that really matter. Although the magical element in the story doesn't reinforce its sincerity, it makes for a humorous and witty read. The novel is thought-provoking, emotional and funny. It gets readers to think about their own lives and how easy it is to lose sight of the important things in life when one is so immersed in everyday chores.
Ahern's writing is engaging and succeeds in eliciting heartfelt laughter from readers. The bizarre originality of the book is to be applauded, but the development of events is a tad predictable.
The Time of My Life might not be a literary masterpiece, but falls right into the category of a lazy weekend read. Cecilia Ahern knows how to keep her fans guessing about her next book, and more often than not, she manages to deliver a uniquely original plot.
The first impression of main character Abby, a freshman at university, is that she’s a goody-two-shoes and seems to have a reserved, shy personality. She is just starting a new independent life as a student far away from home, but her peace of mind is soon disturbed when she meets Travis; an underground fighter who goes to the same school. He's the kind of guy that every girl should avoid but still dreams of taming. With tattooed arms, the rebellious enigma captures Abby's attention instantly and though he has trouble written all over him, she can't help but get sucked into his world.
But on the other hand, Travis is also somewhat spellbound by Abby's innocence. What he doesn't know, and neither do we at the time, is that he’s in for a surprise; with a sharp tongue and a strong personality, Abby manages to charm the bad boy into submission. As the story progresses, we see Abby building a shield to protect herself from being another challenge that Travis conquers. Frustrated with Abby, Travis is forced to comply with her strict rules and settles for being ‘her friend’.
The novel takes an unusual turn when Abby loses a bet with Travis and is forced to live with him for a whole month. The lines between innocent friendship and love become blurred and as the story goes on, McGuire gradually delves deeper into Abby's fears and the dark past that is still hunting her.
Jumping up the New York Times bestselling charts soon after being published, Beautiful Disaster is much more than a just another romance novel.