Ah, nothing better than a delicious tale of the glittering and privileged set against a glorious time period and filled with first rate characters! Palace Circle by Rebecca Dean fills the bill superbly; nothing too deep, but definitely good solid storytelling. Below is my Amazon Review...enjoy!
Delia Chandler is a young eighteen year old bride of the much older Ivor Conisborough when she first comes to England in 1911, leaving behind her rich American upbringing to become Lady of the manor. With her head in the clouds, Delia is stunned to learn that Ivor, while enamored with her, is not in love; that right is reserved for his long time mistress, Sylvia. With her world shattered, Delia seeks solace in her friendship with Sylvia's husband and in her ever-growing social circle which comes to encompass members of the royal family as well as all the movers and shakers of the early twentieth century. And surprisingly, she does a tremendous job of recreating her life, filling it with not only her two daughters, but endless rounds of parties and a lover, all held together with the understanding that she and Ivor will maintain appearances and even an abiding friendship of their own.
Whew. What a premise for a rollicking good tale, and Palace Circle is just that. As we watch Delia mature from the lovestruck teen she is in the beginning to the social whirlwind she becomes, all sorts of side intrigues appear that keep the story flowing. Moving deftly between the England of the Great War into a posting for Ivor in Cairo, and finally into the early days of World War II, we follow not only Delia but her daughters as they find love, lose it, and learn to live with life's disappointments and challenges amid the glitterati and privileged. Dean does a remarkable job of keeping the setting realistic by filling it with people who actually lived and determined the force of events, and the voices ring true to real life.
Perhaps my one complaint in this splendid saga is how at times the author seemed to time jump sometimes even years within the space of a couple of paragraphs. We go from Delia's daughter Petra's initial reaction of happiness at meeting her future husband (after much angst) to a year later their being married within literally two lines. Granted, the author couldn't give us every detail, but the speed at which some events take place is a little head spinning. But really that's only a minor complaint at best, and this is a tale that leaves me wanting more (which I will get with the arrival of two more books, thank goodness!). Dean has brought me into a world I knew little about and made me feel at home. Definitely worthy of at least 4.5 stars, if not 4.75. Recommended!