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The Best of Times

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  3,121 Ratings  ·  360 Reviews
In a matter of seconds, absolutely everything can change …

In this masterfully crafted page-turner, peopled with intense characters and centered on one devastating moment that involves them all, plot-twist queen Penny Vincenzi vividly captures how the actions of one person can dramatically affect many in the blink of an eye.

On an ordinary Friday afternoon, on a major motorw
Hardcover, 608 pages
Published July 14th 2009 by Doubleday (first published 2009)
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I have mixed feelings about this one. I decided to read this along with a couple other books over the long holiday weekend. I'm glad I had other things to read. I quite loved the first half & thought the author did a great job with most of the characters & also the accident we are shown in the opening of the book. And then the second half happened. Or didn't so much and just meandered along until I have to honestly admit, I was skimming for resolutions for my favorite characters. I'm pos ...more
Mar 20, 2013 Barakiel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
At page 570 or something now. It just keeps going on and on and on. When will it end?!

I quit a few chapters later. There was nothing after the hearing to keep the reader motivated.
Ana Gomes
Menos 200 páginas e teria sido melhor...
Rachel Friars
Aug 25, 2015 Rachel Friars rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this so much that my hand accidentally slipped and I ordered eight more of her books.
Punithadanakody Danakody
A compelling story that tackles everyone’s subconscious fear – the one that they feel but never address – what if something catastrophic happens one day and changes our lives forever?
In Best Of Times, Penny Vincenzi tells the story of a brutal road accident that breaks relationships and brings strangers together. Vincenzi’s characters not only allow readers to love / hate them, but I find, like in all her other books, readers get immersed in them and their lives.
When I first picked up a Penny b
Jan 21, 2011 S rated it it was ok
This was an entertaining read though a bit long at just under 600 pgs.
The story is a good one where the lives of twelve unrelated people are wound together through a horrible accident on a highway that runs outside London. The author spends a lot of time on character development and that is all a lead up to this fatal, multi car pile up on the highway and how the lives of these people all come together and how their lives all our forever changed as a result of this life changing event. I really
Aug 01, 2011 Michelle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had high hopes for this one, but somewhere around the middle it failed miserably. It's the story of people involved in a car accident and how it affects their lives. Interesting at the beginning and then bloody awful, darling. (I have to say that, because the book takes place outside London.) At about the halfway point (of this more than 500 page thing!) every single character became unlikeable. Seriously. I get that the author wants to show that we are all flawed people, but we aren't all tot ...more
Nov 08, 2009 Carrie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have very mixed feelings about this book; hence the three stars.

The book opens with a major traffic accident that blocks the freeway (Sorry: motorway. It takes place in London.) Then comes a section called "Before". I spent my time reading this section very nervous about what would happen. So it was hard to enjoy it.

The section that took place during the accident was very exciting and fun to read.

But then the story went kind of down hill from there. I felt like the author didn't know when the
May 16, 2014 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: emprestado
Foi a minha estreia com esta autora, da qual já queria há muito tempo ler qualquer coisa. E gostei bastante. A principio achei que tinha personagens a mais mas depois todas elas se foram interligando e tiveram um papel de maior ou menor destaque na trama. Um bom romance para se ler, apesar de um pouco longo (mais de 600 paginas...) mas que li com muito prazer e me deixou com vontade de ler mais desta escritora
Brittany Johnson
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My love for Vincenzi really just never stops. Anyone who reads my reviews knows that she has become one of my very favorite authors; I never dislike her books.

This book is a beautiful example of how one moment can change everything. The largest part of the plot is an accident on the M4 that causes fatalities, major injuries, and outs secrets. The book is broken up into parts, the first giving some background on how each charac
Sep 04, 2010 Kelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cheesy summer reading at its best ... no need to think or analyze ... just read on the beach or by the side of the pool.

In The Best of Times, all the characters come together because of a horrible crash on the M4 Motorway outside London. All the various characters at the scene of the crash ultimately become entwined with each other. We follow each character from shortly before the crash to a year or so after. Predictably, everything turns out hunky dory and life is good. This is not an intellec
May 19, 2013 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Would Vincenzi be able to hold my interest for 880 pages? Would I be able to keep all the characters straight in my mind? Yes and yes. A very enjoyable read about folks who are involved in, or witness, a large and tragic highway accident and how that event alters their lives. The question is - are the changes for the worst, or for the best? It surprised me, a person who cannot bear gore or medical encounters, the day of the accident was my favorite part of the book. So fear not those of you who ...more
Jo Barton
Apr 08, 2010 Jo Barton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When a lorry crashes on the M4 on a busy summer's day the effect on people's lives is catastrophic and has repercussions that spread out far beyond the scene at the motorway. The story is told quite seemlessly and in readable chunks, with each person's life under scrutiny. Some have secrets that really shouldn't be told, others are oblivious to the effects their actions will have on others. From the sublime, to the heart-rending - I think this is a perfect summer beach read.

My only criticism is
IMHO, reading this book wasn't the Best of Times. While the premise is wonderful - a major accident changes the lives of everyone involved - I found the story tedious. Vincenzi's exploration of the butterfly effect through a myriad of characters left me feeling exhausted. I found it difficult to connect with the characters, and I felt that because the author took on so many characters, none of them were fully developed. I felt that plot points were predictable. And really, the novel probably cou ...more
Diane Klajbor
Mar 25, 2015 Diane Klajbor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was reading this book during a very difficult time in my life. The book kept me interested, I could lose myself in the characters, their lives and dilemmas and forget, for awhile, what was going on in my life. I enjoy Penny Vincenzi's books. They aren't great literature, but they are a wonderful escape.
Marion Dodson
Dec 26, 2012 Marion Dodson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely LOVED this book! Amazing how a series of missteps and other factors can contribute to a huge life altering event. The characters were so well crafted - you loved some and hated some just as the author intended. I didn't want it to end.
May 09, 2009 Kerry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Its not as gripping as the cover promised
Mar 16, 2017 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy this book.
I am a sucker for stories where different people who appparently have nothing in common are brought together by a unfortunate event. It is exacly what happens in this book. Because of an accident on the M4, the lives of a number of characters is changed and intertwined.

I really enjoyed the fact that, at a point or another, the characters all interacted with one another. The author also makes us share the emotions of the characters at different point in the book, and even had t
Nov 24, 2016 Lorna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An enjoyable read. Different story line, interesting and 'real' characters and for the most part engaging until the end. Bonus - long enough to keep one busy for days.
Jan 07, 2017 Antwanene rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Throughly good. All the characters came together well. Was hard to put down between reads.
Mar 11, 2017 Pat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very interesting the way Vicente tied all these disparate people into a multi-vehicle crash on an English freeway.
Apr 11, 2014 Lori rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: chick-lit
Well, this book probably deserves better than the two stars I am giving it. I have just smacked into that wall in my life where I can no longer enjoy Chick Lit -- not that I was ever that into it. I should probably not even review books of this nature because they basically strike me as weird at this point in the game. I am not a fan of couples who fight constantly and toss out endless drama...but then reconcile over and over and over again only to repeat the same grating pattern ad nauseum. The ...more
Jun 18, 2012 Josee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. I didn't know what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised. Some of the characters stood out more than others and therefore I related to them more. Some parts dragged a little, but overall I think this was a good book.

This story is basically about the butterfly effect - a series of events puts a bunch of people on the M4 during rush hour and a terrible accident occurs when a lorry cuts across the highway and flips over the median. Three people die, scores more are inju
Margarida Cruz
Vários meses depois depois de uma enorme ansiedade e curiosidade pelo trabalho de Penny Vincenzy, eis que finalmente tive a oportunidade de a satisfazer.

Aos olhos daqueles que já conhecem as suas obras anteriores, esta obra será, certamente, melhor ou pior. Aos meus olhos, e provavelmente de todos os leitores cujo primeiro contacto com Penny Vincenzy, a escolha não podia ser mais acertada.

Confesso que, ao início, me custou a entrar na história. Parecia tudo muito confuso e um tanto-nada absurdo:
May 02, 2013 Fiona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On a stifling hot summers day a horrific crash occurs on the M4 and the consequences change everyone's life forever. Jonathan a surgeon is returning from a liaison with his mistress and gets caught in the crash. While doing the right thing and helping those less fortunate than himself he also knows he won't be able to keep his affair with Abi a secret much longer. Georgia an aspiring young actress is on her way to an audition flees the scene and can't live with the guilt while her agent Linda th ...more
Dec 02, 2011 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: contemporary fiction, chicklit, fiction

Complex, Fast-paced, Smart

The story follows the lives of people involved in a tremendous freeway crash. It was hard to keep up with all the characters, but each character develops throughout the novel. And, each character is complex, the young woman having an affair with a married man, the wannabe actress, the lonely Grandmother, the guilt-ridden truck driver. The story is ultimately about relationships and how we deal with people and make life decisions.

Two characters I liked were Emma and the
Sep 17, 2010 Stacey rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really liked this book. Wanted to give it 4 stars.

Its the story of life. Actually a good handful of lives. It starts with a very brief intro into the lives of various characters. Then a car crash, where 3 people are killed and multiple others injured. It covers the life of not only the persons involved in the accident, but some of their significant others and/or friends, doctors at the hospital that treated the wounded, etc.

The lies and secrets they keep. How the accident forms relationships,
Feb 04, 2011 Toni rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Your life can change in a blink of an eye-one minute everyone is driving quite safely on crowded highway,next an 18 wheeler swerves and lives are lost or changed forever.this book follows those lives immediately before after the crash.The book is 600 pp but I did not feel that it was too long.I wanted to know how things turned out,even for those whom I did not particularly like.Perhaps some were a little too pat or "romance" like but all in all I felt that there was a rather diverse set of chara ...more
Oct 30, 2009 Tessia rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
Although this took me awhile to read (hard to read when wrapping up grad school), I thoroughly enjoyed every page of it. This is the first novel I've read by Vincenzi, and am motivated to read another by her soon. She writes with such personalization and great dialogue/drama that it becomes very natural to roll imagery and vivid scenes through your mind. The characters become very real and easy to get caught up with. Reminds me of when I get all caught up with soap operas. Of the many characters ...more
Apr 12, 2009 Barbara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pennyvincenzi
Another great addition to the books of Penny Vincenzi. The Best of Times takes place on a busy highway in England where a crash occurs that forever changes the lives of all involved. Including.....

A doctor and his mistress coming back from a night away.

A bride groom and best man running late to his wedding.

A young actress and a lorry driver who picks her up both trying to make it to London in time.

A woman on her way to the airport to meet her lost love from World War II.

A young doctor in A&E
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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
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