Vincenzi, Penny 1939–
Vincenzi, Penny 1939–
PERSONAL: Born April 10, 1939; daughter of Stanley George and Mary Blanche (Hawkey) Hannaford; married Paul Robert Vincenzi, May 27, 1960; children: Polly, Sophie, Emily, Claudia. Education: Attended secretarial college.
ADDRESSES: Home—London, England. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Overlook Press, 1 Overlook Dr., Woodstock, NY 12498.
CAREER: Vogue, secretary; Tatler, secretary; Mirror, began as secretary, became a personal assistant; Daily Mirror, fashion and beauty writer; Nova, fashion editor; Woman's Own, beauty editor; worked for a cosmetics company; Looking Good, cofounder. Options, deputy editor.
Old Sins, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 1989.
Wicked Pleasures, Orion (London, England), 1992.
An Outrageous Affair, Orion (London, England), 1993.
Another Woman, Orion (London, England), 1995.
The Glimpses, Phoenix (London, England), 1996.
The Dilemma, Orion (London, England), 1996.
Forbidden Places, Orion (London, England), 1996.
Windfall, Orion (London, England), 1997.
Almost a Crime, Orion (London, England), 2000.
Sheer Abandon, Headline (London, England), 2005.
"SPOILS OF TIME" TRILOGY
No Angel, Orion (London, England), 2000, Overlook Press (Woodstock, NY), 2003.
Something Dangerous, Orion (London, England), 2001, Overlook Press (Woodstock, NY), 2004.
Into Temptation, Orion (London, England), 2002.
The Compleat Liar, illustrated by Pete Willmin, Cassell (London, England), 1977.
There's One Born Every Minute: A Survival Guide for Parents, illustrated by Ian Dicks, Willow (London, England), 1984.
Taking Stock: Over Seventy-five Years of the OXO Cube, Collins (London, England), 1985.
Contributor to periodicals, including London Times and the Sun; Cosmopolitan, contributing editor.
SIDELIGHTS: Penny Vincenzi is a bestselling novelist whose early career, typical of women of her generation, was secretarial. She worked at Vogue and Tatler, and then for the London Mirror, first as a secretary and then as personal assistant to advice columnist Marje Proops. Proops mentored Vincenzi, who became a fashion and beauty writer, then an editor with several prominent magazines before launching her own, Looking Good, with her husband, Paul. In order to fund the magazine, they sold their house and took out loans, and their venture was successful. Vincenzi was also writing as a freelancer, including as a contributing editor for Cosmopolitan, which led to a meeting with Desmond Elliott, who auctioned a synopsis of her first novel. Since that time, millions of copies of Vincenzi's books have been sold, and her readership increased after her work appeared in the United States.
Vincenzi's first novel, Old Sins, finds the women closest to recently deceased Sir Julian Morrell gathering for a reading of his will. They include his mother, his first and second wife, mistress Phaedria, business partner, and daughter Roz. Sir Julian has left all but two percent of his assets equally to Phaedria and Roz. The cosmetics tycoon, whose business took him from London to both coasts of the United States, has bequeathed the remainder to Miles Wilburn, a son no one knew of, and a California surfer who now becomes caught up in the lives of the Morrell women.
No Angel is the first novel in the "Spoils of Time" trilogy, a saga about the Lytton family, including Celia, a daughter of aristocratic parents who wants to marry beneath her class. She is just one of the strong-willed women of the story, another being her mother, the countess of Beckenham. Celia loves Oliver Lytton, son of a publisher and an actress, and they wed when she is three months pregnant. She delivers son Giles, but soon becomes bored with domestic life. Oliver allows her to work as a junior editor, and her talent is immediately apparent. She rises in the family firm and is soon on par with Oliver and his sister, LM, while at the same time continuing to bear children. Bookreporter.com reviewer Norah Piehl noted that "the challenges she faces in balancing the work she loves with her growing family will ring true for many modern working mothers."
Celia and Oliver become very successful and include among their friends prominent people of the time, including many artists and writers. Oliver serves dur-ing World War I, and when he comes home after four years he is a different man. Showing no interest in their marriage, he is also upset by the choice of titles Celia and LM have chosen to publish in his absence. The women who have kept the publishing house going during the war, are now faced with relinquishing their authority. At the same time, Celia is torn between her moral responsibility and her desire to leave Oliver for Sebastian, a handsome young author with whom she is having an affair. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that "through life and death, exuberance and sorrow, honor and disgrace, Vincenzi perfectly captures the intricacies of her characters and creates plots captivating enough to keep readers' eyes glued to this long and hearty saga."
Something Dangerous, the second book in the "Spoils of Time" trilogy begins in 1928 and focuses on the next generation of Lyttons. Giles, who is a disappointment to his mother, works at the publishing house, which Celia would like to modernize, while Oliver holds onto the past. Celia's twins Venetia and Adele are self-involved with travel and romantic affairs, while the bright child in the family, Kit, is eight at the start of the story, and grows into a young man. The Lytton's foster daughter Barty Miller has graduated from Oxford University, but does not express as much gratitude as Celia feels she should. Something Dangerous begins on the eve of the Great Depression, and continues to World War II.
A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote of Something Dangerous that "as family secrets and the Nazis both threaten to crush the house of Lytton, Vincenzi tightens her grip on readers, churning out surprising twists." These themes are picked up and elaborated on in the final book of the series, Into Temptation.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, September 15, 2003, Ilene Cooper, review of No Angel, p. 213; September 1, 2004, Margaret Flanagan, review of Something Dangerous, p. 8.
Bookseller, November 26, 2004, review of Sheer Abandon, interview with Vincenzi, p. 26.
Entertainment Weekly, October 29, 2004, Tina Jordan, review of Something Dangerous, p. 72.
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2003, review of No Angel, p. 1043; October 1, 2004, review of Something Dangerous, p. 937.
Library Journal, September 1, 2003, Rebecca Miller, "Crossing the pond," p. 40, Marianne Fitzgerald, review of No Angel, p. 211; September 15, 2004, Marianne Fitzgerald, review of Something Dangerous, p. 51.
Publishers Weekly, January 4, 1991, Sybil Steinberg, review of Old Sins, p. 56; September 15, 2003, review of No Angel, p. 41; September 27, 2004, review of Something Dangerous, p. 38.
Bookreporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (March 16, 2005), Norah Piehl, review of No Angel.
Penny Vincenzi Home Page, http://www.pennyvincenzi.com (April 14, 2005).