Pages: 432 pgs
Genre: Historical Fiction/England
Challenges-Read’n’Review Challenge, 100+ Reading Challenge, 20 in 2009
Summary from Publisher:
Palace intrigue, romance, and illicit affairs—Rebecca Dean has written a glorious novel that will sweep Philippa Gregory fans off their feet.
Delia Chandler, an eighteen-year-old Southern girl, marries Viscount Ivor Conisborough just before World War II, becoming part of the Windsor court. It’s every girl’s dream come true. But Delia is jolted from her pleasant life when she realizes, after the birth of her two daughters, that Ivor chose her only to bear an heir to his estate. Shortly thereafter, she begins an affair with her husband’s handsome, titled, and frequently scandalous best friend.
When Conisborough is appointed as an adviser to King Fuad of Egypt, Delia exchanges one palace circle for another, far different one. While she sees Egypt as a place of exile, her two daughters regard Egypt as their home. Only when war comes to Cairo—and Delia finally reveals the secret she has kept for so long—can she begin to heal the divisions separating her from those she loves.
Rebecca Dean’s irresistible combination of real events and masterful storytelling will keep readers fascinated until the very last page.
From the beginning, I was really intrigued with this book. I had no idea what to expect but I did expect a really interesting read…which I got. The time period the story takes place in was a huge draw for me. I love books that take place in the World War I era. Especially when it is a book that cannot be classified as a “war book”. I was disappointed, however, that this seemed to be more of a backdrop. I really liked the story of Davina and Darius. They were the most deep characters and had the most personality. I found myself waiting for their story to take over when I was reading. The writing was also really good. It kept me engaged when my interest would perhaps have dwindled with the shifts in point of view.
Palace Circle was not perfect. I had trouble becoming attached to some of the characters. Especially Delia which is especially troubling because the majority of the book is about her. She just wasn’t a type of character that I like. She seemed kind of vapid. I was never able to make a connection to her and by the time I was able to kind of like her, the story shifted to Petra. The generational format of this novel could also contribute to this. Once you really start to become interested in a character, the story shifts to another. I find that in novels with formats like this, it is hard to really get into any character’s story and become involved in the novel itself. I also found the ending to be a bit disappointing. Without giving it away, it seems like the story broke up in the middle of the novel and no real conclusions were made. I understand that this is the first book in a series but need there to be some loose ends tied up at the end of a book regardless if it is in a series or not.
Overall, I liked Palace Circle. Perhaps not enough to continue with the series but if you like Philippa Gregory or Rosalind Miles, you should definitely pick this up.