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4.3 out of 5 stars192
4.3 out of 5 stars
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on 5 October 2011
Another Penny Vincenzi classic and well up to her usual high standard. I remember the Sixties well and can vouch for the accuracy of the fashions, the places and the attitudes of all her characters. Property dealer Matt, though not always likeable, is particularly well drawn and typical of that period. As a male reader, I recommend The Decision to any man who would like to understand more about the complexity of female emotions. Nobody writes better about relationships than Penny and she does so with compassion, humour and a sure touch. Not to be missed!
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on 5 August 2012
This is a very long book, and I have given it two stars as I did finish it. Penny Vincenzi captures the 1960s London quite well, with the working class, especially in fashion and property, starting to make inroads into the previous middle class/aristocracy strongholds in these businesses. However the characterisations of many of the people who PV has written about lean towards caricature.

It is virtually impossible to believe that the very naive Eliza,is capable of being a success in the cut throat business of magazines or in Fleet Street, as is the case of a family who perhaps with the help of others could afford for their daughter to "do the season" and come out as a debutante, whilst their house is virtually falling down through lack of maintenance.

The plot development is very obvious, the key changes might as well have been written in red type, giving the reader little chance of any surprises.

The Decision is about a child custody case, and after giving enormous importance to the child care arrangements of a supposed working mother, plus the dedication to his business of the working father, PV fails to let the reader know how these things are carried out following the outcome of the case.

The ending was very unsatisfactory, leaving the reader feeling that the time they have taken reading this long novel was a waste of time. I will not be purchasing any more of her books.
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on 22 September 2011
I have read the 2 reviews of this book, one good, one not so good. I am 79% through this book and I can hardly bear to read any more too quickly, simply because I don't want it to ever be finished. For me, it is absolutely unputdownable, and it is Penny at her best.

I have read all of her other books you have for sale, and although one of your readers says her books all follow the same theme, that in no way detracts from the unbelievable skill this writer shows in them all.

I wish I could heap far more praise on the book in detail, but I am not qualified enough to write the skilled reviews many of your readers can - I can only say that I rate this book at 5 stars, and if there were more stars available I would tick them all.

I don't know how long it will be before another new one emerges, but I'll be first in the queue, and have no hesitation in buying it immediately.
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on 3 November 2011
Penny Vincenzi's novels have always been one of my guilty pleasures so I pre-ordered this and saved it for my holiday. I never leave books behind in hotel rooms but made an exception for this one.

What a terrible disappointment. No plot to speak of, no likeable characters, a conclusion beyond dreadful - what WAS she thinking with that gymkhana chapter? You'll have to do an awful lot better before I buy another of your books again, Penny.
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on 21 September 2011
Penny Vincenzi has returned to her more familiar formula of the rich aristocracy v the working class, albeit set in the swinging 60s rather than the early part of the 20th century.

She mines a fiction seam that has been ruthlessly exploited by many others before. Spirited opinionated society girl Eliza (genteel but poor parents) falls in love with working class man made good, successful businessman Matthew.

Their story is the main focus but there are spotlights on others: Eliza's working class friend Heather, a somewhat unlikely alliance; a spoiled Italian countess; the stern lawyer Toby and Matthew's brazen sister Scarlett.

I've always enjoyed Vincenzi's books because they usually have very complex and intricate plots. This one didn't: it was a slow plodding read through to the inevitable court case and a happy ending. Her prose has a tendency towards breathlessness and too much usage of the semi-colon. Fortunately this was reined in after the first couple of chapters. It was as if she had breathed out and become more disciplined (a new editor, perhaps?). But she is still inclined towards describing everything as "nice," whether it is extremely nice, terribly nice or exceedingly nice. In the love scenes couples inevitably "soar," which they do in all of her novels.

I didn't find either of the main characters very sympathethic. The fact that Matthew insisted on his wife being at home and not working was not unusual in the 60s. My own father did the same. Matthew seems to turn into a different person halfway through the book, suddenly becoming unemotional and detached. Eliza's behaviour is quite appalling, and although it is supposed to be countered by her kindness towards Heather, it didn't quite work for me. Their daughter is a true abomination.

In hindsight I enjoyed her previous novel much more, where she strayed from normal territory into the present day. This novel is far from her best and at times I lamented its length, when normally I love the fact her books are so long.
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on 7 January 2012
This book was far too long, there was a lot of repetition and the main characters were pretty unlikeable. Upper class but poor Eliza meets working class Matt and, after a very short courtship, marries him and that's where the story starts to go downhill! Matt, who becomes a self-made millionaire, is a bully with a chip on his shoulder the size of Everest and no redeeming qualities that I could see. Eliza, we are supposed to believe, is a successful fashion journalist who allows him to turn her into a stay-at-home drudge and two-thirds of the book deals endlessly with their marriage in which some sex but no affection appears to play a part. The final third is about their divorce which piles more misery onto both of them. I gave the second star because some of the minor characters were rather more appealing, Matt's sister, his long-suffering assistant and Jeremy, the wealthy man that Eliza rejects in favour of Matt being the nicest. I persevered to the end but have read far better books by Penny Vicenzi.
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on 25 December 2011
I am afraid I cannot agree with some of the other reviewers that this book was unputdownable. I could not wait to get to the end. I found myself skipping pages - especially the court case, which seemed to be described interminably. And seeing Emmie was the most horrible fictional child I had ever encountered, I was completely disinterested in her fate. The characters of Matt and Eliza did not appeal to me in the least, they were downright irritating. Perhaps because I am reading of the 60's in a more enlightened time. The Epilogue reached the stage of being downright silly. But I had long ago lost interest and just skimmed through it. Very disappointing, as I had enjoyed all her other books. And do people really call each other "dear love" and "darling Jeremy" in the course of everyday conversation? Not in the world I inhabit, fictional or real!
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Definitely to be read on a kindle - I could hardly hold the fat paperback wodge of it towards the end when winding down towards a last slim section.

Larger than life nasty man Matt never had his hard edges softened, silly Eliza was more sinned against than sinning but somehow didn't elicit sympathy. As to the child well heaven help us she was a manipulative spoilt brat! Still there was a lot to read, and some parts had my heart racing, the will she won't she dramas, the I just can't believe this is happening stuff that PV is so good at. The fashion business was wonderfully brought back to sparkling life. Well done for that side of the story, it was great. The court case was rather Jodi Picoult, hard to follow with a surprisingly speedy summing up. Otherwise plenty of pedestrian pointers for the hard of thinking along the way; the death of a certain gentleman was flagged up with fireworks in the sky as it were.

Summercourt sits sedately in its diminishing acres, solemnly awaiting the vagaries of fate. Charles who is to inherit it is somewhat sidelined, it's the women who call the shots here. Sarah quietly puts up with her lot and does her best to cope. She moves out of the post war snobbery a little but not much.

Unfortunately the finale gymkhana chapter was a wet weekend - will Eliza get her bath or not - a ridiculous preoccupation, even the more dramatic event later seemed strangely limp. Not really worth pursuing this zany sixties story for, I felt on closing the book. A thumping good read with some less convincing sections. As to the title well which 'decision' does it refer to, as there were several...
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on 6 November 2011
I waited eagerly for her new book & boy have I bveen disappointed. Like other readers her books are usually un-putadownable & I can't usually wait to turn the next page.This novel left me cold-didnt like any of the characters particularly & of course had to finish the book to find out what happened in the end. I feel her many fans will be left wondering what went wrong with this novel. Could it have been the subject matter? Will continue to wait for her next novel and just have to hope Penny gets back on track. Its not cheap to buy her books & normally we get excellent value for money but not this time.Great shame.
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on 7 January 2013
I think I liked this book..but the ending was just pathetic. I hated the gymkana epilogue, what was the author thinking?? I actually couldn't wait to get to the end of it. It was definitely 300/400 pages too long.
The main characters weren't very likeable..especially the child. Talk about a child that needs spanking, what a manipulative little brat.
I thought Mariella's character was a bit pointless and half way through the book, Penny just completely forgot about Eliza's brother Charles.
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