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No Angel (The Spoils of Time, #1)
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No Angel (The Spoils of Time #1)

4.12  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,215 Ratings  ·  471 Reviews
No Angel is an irresistibly sweeping saga of power, family politics, and passion-a riveting drama and a fervent love story. Celia Lytton is the beautiful and strong-willed daughter of wealthy aristocrats and she is used to getting her way. She moves through life making difficult and often dangerous decisions that affect herself and others-her husband, Oliver, and their chi ...more
Paperback, 626 pages
Published October 5th 2004 by The Overlook Press (first published January 1st 2000)
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Gea try rutshire chronicles by jilly cooper. they're also big, fat books. :)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Kim Allen-Niesen
Dec 30, 2008 Kim Allen-Niesen rated it really liked it
I walked into the Corner Bookstore while visiting New York City completely exhausted with aching feet and two cranky kids. While I was sitting in a chair, a lovely woman asked what type of book I was looking for and when I told her about my day, she recommended this book. Within 30 pages I was swept away into another world. It's lovely family saga, the first of three volumes, I like this segment the best, that provides love, tragedy, drama, a bit of history, but most importantly, a vacation from ...more
Apr 18, 2010 Becky rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-in-2010
I picked this book from my Mother-In-Law's shelf, out of sheer avoidance of my New Year's resolution to read five classics. I had started Pride and Predjudice and I am so tired from being pregnant that I can't focus and instantly fall asleep. This book, however, kept me not only awake, but awake way past my usual bedtime and on into the night. I love books like these. I think these are the closest thing to a love affair that I could imagine. I would literally wait all day to sneak into bed just ...more
Jan 11, 2015 Lisa rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio
I really enjoyed the first 60% of this family saga set just before and after the first world war. It's an enjoyable soap opera that captures the class divide, women's rights and the war and it's consequences.
But then something happens (view spoiler) which completely spoilt it for me. It moved from a fairly intelligent read (for light readin
Oct 05, 2011 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first book in a trilogy, No Angel, opens in 1904 London and follows the lives of the, upper middle class, Lytton family. Largely set around their publishing house, it has a bit of everything. Love, infidelity, drama, tragedy, as well as history.

The main character is Lady Celia Lytton. She’s a selfish, disillusioned woman and rather wanting in the parenting department; there were times I wanted to shake some sense into her. Nevertheless, I did feel a certain empathy for her situation and admi
Apr 23, 2008 Kelly rated it really liked it
Yes ... this was a silly book and yes, I thoroughly enjoyed it despite it being like a Sydney Sheldon book on steroids. Set it the UK and starting before WWI and ending several years after the war. About a family involved in the publishing business. Everything was hyper-dramatic in the book ... from the characters to the plot. Almost every woman has large beautiful eyes and gorgeous flowing hair. Almost every man is tall, dark and handsome. Every woman (and man) has rapturous, earth-ending sex ( ...more
Alison Looney
Jul 08, 2012 Alison Looney rated it liked it
If you're missing Downton Abbey (soapy elements and all), this book would be a good choice. It's set in the same time period as Downton Abbey and hits the same historical events: Titanic, WWI, flu epidemic, etc. And they share themes that I suppose any story about the early 1910s-1920s would - how families cope with the war and what happens when all the wounded soldiers return, how class lines began to blur, and how women's roles in society change. I almost always enjoy those types of plots.

Kimberly Kolansky
Oct 04, 2012 Kimberly Kolansky rated it it was ok
This book had the potential to be a good book due to the premise/overall concepts that the book was built on.Though there were so many issues I had with this book, that I was forced to not finish the book. The book was EXTREMELY slow moving- and trust me I gave the book a complete chance, hoping that it would improve or the pace of the story would pick up by chapter 8. It just dragged on and added more and more characters to the point where I came close to losing track (this is coming from an av ...more
April 2011 book club choice- loved it! Story of a prominent English family from 1904 to 1920ish. My favoite story lines revolved around the publishing house.

One thing I absolutely loved was the dialogue between the extremely entertaining characters; it is so realistic. (I hate it when books have ridiculous, sappy dialogue which is beyond unbelieveable...)

I was intrigued by all of the strong women characters. The Lady Celia Lytton character, who leaves something to be desired in the parenting
Jan 22, 2011 Kelly rated it it was amazing
A friend at the bookstore I work at has recommended this Lytton Family trilogy for years, and now I know why. Utter delight! I am reminded of the "Winds of War" and "War and Remembrance" sagas I read in college and so loved. This time it is a British family that owns a publishing company in the early 20th century. The female characters are what make this book come alive. They, and especially one, Celia Lytton, know what they want and are not shy about going after it, whether that be love, meanin ...more
Tara Chevrestt
Sep 25, 2009 Tara Chevrestt rated it really liked it
This novel had just enough scandal to entertain but was also very classy. Normally, a novel with too many characters to keep track of throws me off, but this one introduces each character bit by bit and I had no trouble at all keeping track of who was who and what was going on in their lives. Very skillfully done. The novel spans about 15 to 20 years of the Lyttons' lives. The focus, mainly centers on the marriage of Cylia and Oliver and the troubles they face; deceit, growing apart, affairs, an ...more
Jul 02, 2015 Charity rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Downton Abbey and/or historical fiction fans
Recommended to Charity by: Secret Santa gift from Mandy
What a brilliant introduction to the Lytton family! I was quickly absorbed in their saga -- so much drama, deception, delight, and devastation -- in London during the years, 1904-1920 (verrrry Downton Abbey-esque). I loved some characters, then despised them, then loved them again. I felt my heart pounding as I flipped through the pages during some of the more dramatic moments in the story (and there were many!). And, of course, I was completely smitten reading about the triumphs, trials, and tr ...more
Dec 26, 2014 Mila rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned, bob
I thought I would like this because it's set in the same time period as Downton Abbey (a series that I just love) but that's where the similarity ends. I struggled to get through Part One (so bored) and then saw that there were so many more pages to go that I abandoned it (even though it's a Book Club book). Perhaps it's because I have so many other books that I want to read that I just didn't want to waste my time on this one.

I thought it would be:

But it turned out to be:

Oct 18, 2010 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this book - the way the characters lives changed over several years, influenced by the decisions of other characters was intriguing. Set in the early 20th Century, I wasn't sure I would enjoy the history but it was fascinating and with reference to familiar events it actually helped set the scene for me really well. The saga continues as the characters introduced in this first book of the trilogy have so much more to give and I look forward to reading the other Spoils of Time book ...more
Aug 06, 2011 Celeste rated it it was ok
This book calls itself "an epic family saga" - but in reality, it's a piece of fluff desperately trying to emulate Gone with the Wind. (And really, who wants that? Haven't we had our fill of shallow, self-absorbed bitches who are described by the author as "strong-willed" in a desperate attempt to generate some kind of admiration from the reader?) The main character is deceitful, unfaithful, selfish, and unkind to her family. She has a few charitable moments, but the fact that she is ridiculousl ...more
May 16, 2011 Whitney rated it really liked it
No Angel by Penny Vincenzi chronicles the lives of the Lyttons, a wealthy family who owns a publishing house in London around the first world war. At the center of the story is Lady Celia Beckenham, a strong-willed, blue-blooded beauty who forces her parents to bless her marriage to the lower-ranking Oliver Lytton, by getting pregnant. Motherhood is not quite as fulfilling as she or others would have hoped and eventually works her way into Lyttons, becoming an accomplished editor and asset to th ...more
Jul 05, 2013 Shelley rated it liked it
This is not the type of book I usually read, but I am on a World War One kick, and this story is set during that time period. I will admit, I am a book snob, and this was a little on the soap opera side for me. That being said, I think it was a good story, and the author did a fantastic job of building suspense. There were times I couldn't put it down. The story is about a publishing family, mainly Lady Celia, who marries into the family and then becomes an integral part of the company. She is s ...more
Aug 21, 2013 Kurt rated it really liked it
Angel, by Penny Vincenzi. 626 pages. (5323 pgs)
This was the last on the list recommended for those suffering from Downton Abbey withdrawal. At 626 pages, I am officially over it!! In fact, I believe I know more about the period and WWI than those who lived through it. Seriously. Ask me.
Out of the past four books or so, this was by far the easiest to read. The story focuses around Cleia, who marries Oliver Lytton, heir to a publishing house. The book is the story of this couple, their children,
Oct 24, 2009 Emily rated it liked it
Recommended to Emily by: Bethany Burgess-Smith
While it does feel a little bit like Sex in the City set in the World War 1 era sometimes, it's also pretty darn meaty. It's a mass of contradictions and frustrations and VERY difficult to put down. The look at the publishing industry of the era through the lens of the women working in it was really innovative and surprising (were there women in the business then?) The characters were a lot like people, in that sometimes you like them and sometimes they do stupid stuff and you get frustrated wit ...more
Sep 28, 2007 Kristin rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: someone wishing to be in a coma
This is what I picked up thinking, "Hey, my life isn't boring enough. I need some pallidly romantic, poorly researched, family-saga historical fiction, with love scenes written by someone with no limbic system.[]" That is exactly what I got. I have tried to use this mundane-at-best tome as a sleep aid on multiple occasions, only to be jerked out of a semi-dozing state by Vincenzi clumsily reminding her readers of the time line of the plot. This has caused ...more
Jun 14, 2007 Sammy rated it really liked it
Shelves: b-the-good
I can't quite put my finger on it but there was something about this novel that made it feel very different from Something Dangerous. I think it had something to do with the characters, though. As I begin to think about it I realize the characters seem different because we're looking at them in a new light. So no matter what order you read the books in, prepare for a bit of change.

There was still something about No Angel that made it less enjoyable than Something Dangerous and think it's partial
Nov 19, 2011 Bethan rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I only read this because I was abroad and it was free. Probably unfair of me to say since so many people clearly really like the book but these type of bestsellers are the McDonalds of literature. Some people can't stand McDonalds and say it's 'cardboard food'. Vincenzi obviously tries to incorporate serious subjects such as war, suffragettes and poverty but it comes across like cardboard cut-outs and too obvious in intention. The book lacks depth and complexity. It's, however, not unreadable - ...more
Apr 09, 2015 Donna rated it liked it
I could have read this faster than the 20+ hours it took to listen to it. It started out as 2 stars and I was not happy about that considering the length of the audio. The story seemed okay, it was the writing that had me cringing. It was all telling. That is one of pet peeves. I don't prefer that style of writing.

Once I could separate the writing from the story, I fell into sync with the story. It was intriguing for the most part. It meandered along through time as the characters grew older, b
Apr 01, 2015 Kate rated it it was amazing
i enjoyed this book tremendously. This is a family saga set in England in the years prior to, during and after the First World War. The characters are wonderfully drawn and I found myself totally absorbed in their lives. I am now looking forward to Book 2 in this trilogy.
Ally Wampler
Aug 03, 2013 Ally Wampler rated it it was amazing
A must read... completely engrossing and character driven. You love everyone, and I mean everyone (except that dreadful Laurence)! It's just like downton abbey! You've got your fashionable Celia Lytton, steadfast honorable Oliver, spunky LM, don't make me go on and on...

It's honestly somewhere between a four and five star, because it's a tad frustrating at times. Although there are lots of "on the edge of your seat" suspenseful moments they are maybe a few too drawn out at times (the libel suit?
Apr 06, 2010 Heath rated it it was amazing
The first of the trilogy-- my favorite Penny Vincenzi. The only thing about this book is that you will find a number of typos. This must have been her first book published before she was an international success. Ironic because it is about a publishing dynasty in pre WWI England. If you want a novel that will take you away and immerse you in another time and another family, this is it. The Lytton family is fascinating and lovable. Celia is one of my favorite characters-- so admirable yet so flaw ...more
Jun 12, 2011 Mushy rated it it was amazing
Buyer not buy just one of these books at a time...
strong women, family business, family monkey business, the men women and children at the extreme of the spectrum of adjectives: handsome/vulnerable/brilliant/depressed/beautiful/each one of a kind in the whole world.

The Lytton publishing empire and family allows the reader guiltless eavesdropping on their deepest secrets. Enough salacious behavior to discourage any bookears of the pages (books are not on audio!!).

Very Peyton Place b
Sep 03, 2010 Kelly rated it it was amazing
If you love historical fiction, then there is a good chance you'll love this book. The first book in a trilogy that i have tried to single handedly convince everyone that they need to read. It's so incredibly honest, set just prior to WW I and has a romantic love triangle to end all love triangles. Celia is the best Female protagonist since Noelle Paige in Sidney Sheldon's 'the other side of midnight'. Must say, penny vincenzi's other books are pretty good, but this is my only hope ...more
Kristy Trauzzi
While this isn't quite what I was expecting - I did enjoy this book.

I think it had - well - tried to - have more depth then some of her other stories. I enjoyed the conflicting emotions that the main character went through with her adultery. I can't imagine all the families that were broken up or seriously impacted from the war.

It made me cry when her sister LM? found out she was pregnant and then lost her friend. I was very happy that she was able to find another companion later on in life.
Apr 27, 2014 Nancy rated it really liked it
Penny Vincenzi may not be writing great literature, but she sure knows how to tell a tale. And, a very good one. No Angel is a big, bold, compelling soap opera of a book and, although its characters frequently are less than admirable, they are never, never dull.

The plot is driven by the outbreak of World War 1 and the layers and layers of devastation it rained on people's lives in Britain. Many novels have dealt with the psychological damage to returning soldiers. There have also been many stori
Sarah Hackley
May 18, 2014 Sarah Hackley rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of Downton Abbey, Brideshead Revisited, Daisy Goodwin, Anita Shreve and Maeve Binchy
Shelves: fiction
It’s rare that an author so thoroughly captures my attention in the first few paragraphs as Penny Vincenzi did in “No Angel.” The book opens at 18-year-old Celia Lytton’s wedding. Within the first few sentences the reader realizes that this is no ordinary wedding and that Celia is no ordinary 18-year-old woman.

Ostensibly a period drama about class, marriage, and British life in the early 1900s, “No Angel” tells the tale of a headstrong young woman, her family, and her friends in the years surro
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Sinopsis en Español // Synopsis in Spanish 1 1 Mar 21, 2015 11:18AM  
  • Remembering Smell: A Memoir of Losing--and Discovering--the Primal Sense
  • Swan's Chance (Wild Swan Trilogy, #2)
  • Villages
  • Beautiful Maria of My Soul
  • The Inheritance
  • A Future Arrived (Passing Bells, #3)
  • The Summer We Read Gatsby
  • Walks With Men: Fiction
  • This Is Where We Live
  • Rivals (Rutshire Chronicles #2)
  • The Highest Stakes
  • Confusion
  • City of Promise
  • A Bachelor Establishment
  • The House of Eliott
  • Letters of Two Brides
I'm currently taking part in a Q&A Group here on Goodreads to discuss my latest novel, Sheer Abandon . To post questions, please visit: I look forward to an active discussion together.

I was nine years old when I embarked on my storytelling career. I wrote my own magazine called “Stories”, which I copied out three times on carbon paper and sold for two
More about Penny Vincenzi...

Other Books in the Series

The Spoils of Time (3 books)
  • Something Dangerous (The Spoils of Time, #2)
  • Into Temptation (The Spoils of Time, #3)

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