the best of times by Penny Vincenzi. UK, 2009

 the best of times is definitely not one the best books I have read. The blurb on the cover of the book reads: Treat yourself to a Vincenzi; however, unless the person who wrote this is a sadist, I cannot understand what there is about the book that can be equated with the word treat. That said, the beginning promises an interesting, easy-to-read, uncomplicated novel, and I like the way Vincenzi describes her characters, and their individual problems, before bringing them all together in the dreadful accident on the motorway. I also like her use of small sections, hopping from one person or one strand to the next; however, in my opinion, at 900 pages, the book is at least 600 pages too long, and it had most probably benefited by tying together these different strands well before page 300.

Unfortunately, the best of times very quickly deteriorates into a Mills and Boon type romance with much emphasis on handsome (sexy) men and beautiful (sexy) women, all of whom are motivated only by the prospect of marriage and the acquisition of an attractive (usually well-off) partner. Although a sense of reality is definitely present at the beginning of the book, it has more or less disappeared by the halfway mark as the book descends into the realms of PG-rated animated fantasy with puerile sexual overtones.  
I did discover that Penny Vincenzi is one of the UK's best-loved and most popular authors (Amazon), and that she is universally held to be the 'doyenne of the modern blockbuster' (Glamour), so I am possibly on my own in not liking her writing. That she has such a wide following is, no doubt, an indication that there is a need for this kind of fairly superficial novel, and she is to be congratulated for recognizing the need and acting upon it. 

Photo of Penny Vincenzi above from