`The Best of Times' draws reader into the action

July 21, 2009 10:40:20 AM PDT
An ordinary Friday afternoon becomes a nightmare when a truck driver loses control of his vehicle on a London highway and causes a multicar pileup.

In her latest novel, Penny Vincenzi chronicles the stories of those affected both directly and indirectly by the accident, and shows how minor choices can lead to an unexpected outcome. "The Best of Times" is a page-turner, with a plot that draws the reader into the action.

Characters include an elderly widow on her way to a reunion with a long-lost love; a seemingly faithful husband who is caught with his mistress; and an aspiring actress who is already late for an audition.

The novel takes each character through the accident, then chronicles what happens long after their lives suddenly intersect in a time of crisis, showing how good things can result from even the worst of circumstances.

"The Best of Times" isn't a quick read; it's lengthy - and there's a lot to take in. Some characters are more interesting than others, but Vincenzi writes in great detail about all of them, so it can be exasperating to read through sections about certain characters to reach the more compelling stories. She also introduces so many characters, it's hard to keep track of them all.

Vincenzi writes from various points of view, and often tackles class structure, politics, infidelity and romance. "The Best of Times" isn't quite as good as some of her previous novels ("Sheer Abandon," "An Absolute Scandal") but, overall, it's exciting, intriguing and saucy.

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