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The Best of Times

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  3,375 Ratings  ·  378 Reviews
A hot summer's day, a crowded motorway, a split second that changed people's lives forever. Gripping, heartbreaking, exciting and unputdownable, this new novel will be one of 2009's biggest and most enjoyable novels - from the irresistible Penny Vincenzi.
Hardcover, 768 pages
Published May 14th 2009 by Headline Review (first published 2009)
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May 25, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brit-chick-lit
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 rated it it was ok
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.
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was in the middle of Penny Vincenzi’s THE BEST OF TIMES (Headline, 2009) when my hubby phoned to say that...
Ana Gomes
Menos 200 páginas e teria sido melhor...
Rachel Friars
Aug 25, 2015 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
Jan 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it it was ok
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 rated it liked it
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 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 Gardner
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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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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.
Roxie Gallinger
Jul 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mar 16, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Kathleen Dixon
A friend told me she was reading this, and wrinkled her nose. What did that mean? Well, another friend labelled this as chick lit, and therefore she's never read anything by this author. So that explains Friend #1's wrinkled nose. She wouldn't ordinarily read it either. But she did. And I did. And my nose wrinkled so much so many times that I almost stopped reading. I mean, WHY are all the characters drop-dead gorgeous? There are quite a few characters with significant roles in this book, and qu ...more
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Another totally enthralling blockbuster from Vincenzi who never disappoints.

This story follows the victims of an horrendous car crash on a busy motorway. Starting with how they came to be on the motorway at that time, then how they reacted & suffered in the crash & finally to the consequences in the aftermath of that fatal day - which might not sound very up-lifting but there's love, heartbreak, sadness & humour all of which combine to make a very entertaining story. Okay, it's easy
May 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: to-read-have
Such a huge book (751 pages) and so heavy to hold (yeah, poor baby), but what an enjoyable read! I've never read Penny Vincenzi but have often heard her books are very good. Vincenzi's writing style reminds me of Maeve Binchy, whose writing I have quite enjoyed. The only negative would be that this one started to drag towards the end, which almost made me reduce to 3 stars. The author was tying up the loose ends of each character, but it did seem to go on and on, and I have to admit, got a tad s ...more
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was ok
I started reading this book after it was highly recommended to me.. I got to chapter 2 before I gave up.. not very far into the book I hear you say, but I just couldn't get on with it. I'm a very avid reader, 2 a week most weeks but the writing, for me, wasn't very fluid. it's too scatty and jumpy for me. I like books that have different characters perspectives within the story but I like them to be separated into different chapters, this one it's each paragraph almost and it was too much to eve ...more
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: not-keen
Not amazing I'm afraid. Took me forever to read but I didn't want to give up on it, can't tell you why though. I wouldn't have lost out by giving up on it put it that way. I wouldn't recommend this book. Cheesy a lot of the time. If you're not keen and not feeling it like I'm wasn't then save your time.
Anne Lind
Oct 24, 2017 rated it liked it
An interesting book about a variety of different people who are all involved in a major traffic accident on the M4 outside London. Their lives are all changed, mostly in positive ways. I read this while traveling in the UK, riding on the Motorways, probably not the best time to read it! But enjoyable and mostly good characters.
Fin Girvin
Aug 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I found it hard to read for the first few pages too many story lines to start off with, having read a review that said they d quit at page 80 I decided I'd give it until then to decide... got to 73 and thought its not too bad... enjoyed it totally in the end..
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
LOTS of characters! The story moved along nicely, and I enjoyed this read. (Too much infidelity, but that's a personal judgement on my part.)

PHYSICALLY, it was very difficult to handle this paperback! It is 2.25 inches thick and I have arthritis in my left thumb.
Sep 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Very good!
Jan 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: not-finished
Took too long to build characters. Had potential but author seemed to have stretched the novel.
Jul 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'd actually read this book before. I remembered some of the stories but not all of them. It was great to re-read it.
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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
More about Penny Vincenzi...