In case you hadn’t yet guessed, I have a literary love of the saga series, the ones where each book is around the 500 to 700 page mark with the content spanning decades and generations through the entwined lives of one family. A little bit like Downton Abbey but in book form, which is probably why I liked that TV series so much. It reminded me of the very best of saga series’ that I have read and enjoyed over the years. One series that still stands out for me is Penny Vincenzi’s The Spoils of Time, three epic books spanning generations through the one family. It’s superb, absolutely enthralling in a glamourous and dramatic way that is entirely addictive. I was new to Penny’s work when I bought the first book in this series as a new release. I have since read many of her novels and none of them have been a disappointment.
In brief, The Spoils of Time series follows the Lytton family from WWI through to the end of the WWII and beyond. It moves between London and New York and can best be described as a sweeping saga of ‘power, family politics, and passion; a riveting drama and a fervent love story’. In other words, it has a bit of everything to keep it going and then some.
Some more detail for you on each book in the series:
No Angel (2000): Celia Lytton is the beautiful and strong-willed daughter of wealthy aristocrats and she is used to getting her way. She moves through life making difficult and often dangerous decisions that affect herself and others-her husband, Oliver, and their children; the destitute Sylvia Miller, whose life is transformed by Celia’s intrusion; as well as Oliver’s daunting elder sister, who is not all she appears to be; and Sebastian Brooke, for whom Celia makes the most dangerous decision of all.
Something Dangerous (2001): The dazzling Lytton twins, Adele and Venetia, are born into the great Lytton publishing empire. In 1928, on their eighteenth birthday, they are rich and admired, with a confidence verging on arrogance. But the spectre of Nazi Germany is growing. Gradually their privileged world darkens in unimaginable ways – but it is not just the twins whose lives have been irrevocably changed. Barty Miller, rescued from the London slums in babyhood by Celia Lytton, is clever, ambitious, and a complete contrast to the twins – and she faces temptation of the most unexpected kind.
Into Temptation (2002): The Second World War is over, peace has been declared but the ravages remain and the Lytton family must confront the future and themselves. Kit Lytton, blinded in his early twenties in service for the RAF, is coming to terms with the fact that his father is not Oliver Lytton, as he thought, but the famous children’s author Sebastian Brooke. His sense of betrayal is immense, but worse is the discovery that the woman he loves is his sister. Barty Miller is now in the curious position of owning a majority share of Lyttons, the publishing house belonging to the family that brought her up. Now rich and powerful, though alone, Barty is far from the cowed slum child rescued by Celia Lytton years before. But how will she act now towards the family who always made her feel she did not belong? And what secrets in the Lytton past remain to be discovered?
As you can see, just from reading the brief blurbs, this series contains a spider-web of family drama, just what every saga loving reader craves when they crack open the cover on a 700 page installment. The covers for this series have been re-done and the new ones are what I’ve pictured here. Aren’t they glorious? The old world glamour and charm is captured to perfection. I just love them. It’s a wonder really that this series has never been picked up for adaptation into a television series. It certainly has all the necessary hallmarks but I guess this is a new tendency and this particular series is not all that new itself. Time will tell, you never know what a savvy producer will unearth in the hopes of it being the next big thing.
The setting and era of this series makes it a truly timeless one and if you love sprawling historical fiction on an epic scale then I highly recommend this to you. Great for holiday reading!