Author: Penny Vincenzi
Published: Anchor; Jan. 2013
Genre: Historical fiction
Synopsis: It’s 1958, and Eliza Clark has it all: good looks, a privileged upbringing, and a fast-paced career as a successful magazine editor. High fashion means high life, and she’s constantly jetting to Paris and Milan to take in the latest by Chanel, Dior, and Pucci. But when she falls head over heels for Matt Snow, an edgy working-class boy, and becomes pregnant, she is expected to give up her glamorous lifestyle and get married.
Although their marriage is intensely passionate, it soon begins to fracture. When their divorce ends in a dramatic custody battle over their little girl, Emmie, and Summercourt, the country estate that has been in her family for generations, it leaves Eliza with a difficult decision: Love? Or money?
My Take: I am a HUGE Penny Vincenzi fan. You may not know this because I haven't reviewed any of her books in the time I've been running Amused By Books but there was a time when I read most of her back catalog. Let's see, there was her entire No Angles/Lytton Family Trilogy series which was amazingly engrossing and one of my favorite series of all times, as well as, Something Dangerous, Old Sins, and The Dilemma. All were big books, all were engrossing, all were soap-operatic, making them perfect summer reads. So yeah, when summer rolled around I knew that would be the right time to pick up her recent release More Than You Know.
Having not read any of Vincenzi's books for quite a few years I was excited to dive back into a beloved author's work. However, what I found was not what I had hoped. I believe what didn't work for me with More Than You Know was a case of synopsis overload. While the synopsis up there is brief, it gives away the crux of the story. By 300 pages in, I still hadn't gotten through everything the synopsis had given away and I began to wonder what the point of reading this huge tome was if I clearly already knew how it was going to end. I want to have a story unravel for me. And yes, I will still to continue to always read the synopsis, but that doesn't mean I want it to give me the whole story in one go!
Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I can get to the actual novel. More Than You Know had everything in it I really enjoy. It was set in the era of Mad Men (1960s), it was also set in swinging London (love), and it had a strong female lead (double love). This strong female lead's name is Eliza and she comes from a privileged background but wants to do more with her life than just marry well and become a housewife and society dame. She wants to have a rewarding career and she wants this career to be in fashion. Eliza actually does really well for herself very quickly. It was fun to read about her passion for her work and the fashions of the day.
However, societal rules to not die easily and there is serious pressure for her to marry and to marry well. She also knows that by doing so she would probably be unable to keep the job she loves. When her longtime boyfriend (and very socially well off one) asks her to marry him, while it would seem like the perfect life, she decides that she doesn't actually love him enough to marry.
Meanwhile, Matt, an army buddy of her brother, but also a boy who is making his own way, is coming in and out of Eliza's life. There is an attraction there but a relationship would be deemed socially unacceptable. Sometimes though the attraction just can't be ignored and the two become entangled in a passionate relationship. When Eliza becomes pregnant, well, it's time for the two to get married.
What follows is a rather realistic, if often sad tale, of choices made and the wonderings of what if. Unlike the above synopsis, I don't want to give that much away. Suffice it to say, what follows is Eliza's intense love for her husband and daughter but a constant wondering of what might have been if she had just chosen a different path. And eventually what she chooses to do with those wonderings.
If you want a great summer read, I might first recommend one of the above novels of Vincenzi's that I adored, but if, like me, you are already an ardent Vincenzi fan, you are going to want to read this one too.
Cover Lust: I think this cover is perfect. It doesn't give away too much of anything, yet hints at the opulent lives within.