Marie's Reviews > Palace Circle

Palace Circle by Rebecca Dean
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's review
Mar 03, 09

bookshelves: own
Read in February, 2009

A novel of privileged Delia and her daughters, set against a supposedly magnificent backdrop of World War II in Britain though I was expecting perhaps a bit more 'history'. The war moved along speedily with friends and acquaintances going off to fight somewhere and some came back and some didn't. Just as fast as that and pretty much no true emotion.
Just as quick, her husband is transferred to Cairo and Delia's eldest skips a few years to 16 and is enjoying Egypt. That's all in the first 115 pages, which comprised "Part One: Delia; 1911-1930". Part Two is "Petra: 1930-1934". Now we are dealing with young Petra and her social life in Cairo, and who she thinks she loves and why. And then there are Parts 3, 4 & 5 focusing more on some of the other characters. This is Phillippa Gregory style and although it gets tiresome when it is done as a narration from characters going back and forth and back again, seperating it into parts works better then the former.

When I read a good Historical Fiction novel, after I put it down I typically go and find a non-fiction book on that time period or a certain event in that time period. From this novel there really isn't anywhere to begin since the war went by at lightning speed, and the people mentioned such as Winston Churchill seemed to just be added for effect. I didn't have that desire to learn more. I hate to sound so critical of this author's debut, but these are just my opinions of course. And perhaps this is not intended to be a Historical Fiction novel.
The back of the book warns that it has a "fast-paced" plot. But it also said that it was unpredictable and I am not so sure I can agree with that. The premise for the novel was wonderful and made me want to read it; I would have preferred more insights into the various characters, and the reality of their current events which I would have expected to be more crucial. We never truly get the sense of the blurb that is on the cover about WWII darkening her world of glamour and grace. Delia always seemed to have anything she wanted being beautiful and rich. Whatever problems came her way did not seem to phase her in the least. With the suggested expanded material the author could've made this book into two novels instead. The fact that it doesn't drone on and on about anything doesn't make this book a bore, and the fact that it does indeed move swiftly may enhance it's readability to some. I think there will be some people who prefer more substance, and some others who would just enjoy a good read. If you would like a quick read, this is the book for you.
Overall, it's not bad, it's not awesome. So I'll give it 3.5 stars.
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