Publishing year: 2002
The third book in this trilogy starts in 1953, coronation year.
Some of the characters have died: gentle Gordon, Lady Beckenham, and Oliver. I was sad to read about their losses. I suspected we couldn’t have Lady Beckenham for much longer, but I wanted Oliver to be there.
It’s been a year since Oliver’s death, and Celia surprises her children by announcing she’s retiring and marrying Lord Arden. Giles, Jay and Venetia take the news of her retirement with excitement and perplexity, but to Giles’s dismay, her mother wants to keep her shares for another year. Her marriage to Lord Arden is not well accepted, but most of the family congratulate her reluctantly. They all think it’s too soon for Celia to marry after Oliver’s death. Yet, Celia, who is now 68, thinks that time is not to be wasted, and she thinks to believe Lord Arden will be a good husband. I’m not sure why she’s marrying him. We know he’s impotent, and I doubt she’s in love with him, and she doesn’t need the money either. So why? Is it true that she feels lonely and she thinks he’s a husband who can lessen her loneliness a bit and who won’t cause him too many problems? Everybody thought she would have married Sebastian, but she confesses to Barty that Oliver would have been hurt if she had married other people, clearly hinting at Sebastian.
Naturally, Sebastian is not happy at all and barges against her when he learns. And Kit has taken this marriage as some personal affront. I’m not sure why. He stops any contact with his mother. Is he being loyal to Oliver or Sebastian? Why would this marriage be so hurtful to him? Is it because Lord Arden used to have fascist ideas? I hope Kit lets his mother talk to him because this is making Celia miserable.
There are some changes in the family. Adele has married Geordie, the author Barty discovered in America, and they have a child. Her two other children are teenagers, and Lucas is giving her many problems as he’s a rebellious, morose adolescent. Barty lives in America with her daughter, who is now eight, a difficult child, who reminds her of her father a lot. Barty keeps saying that she loved Laurence very much, but I still can’t see why, especially when she admits that their marriage would have been a nightmare for her if he hadn’t died. Venetia is still at Lyttons, happily married to boy and the proud mother of six children. Jay married his fiancée Tory, and they have two children and she’s pregnant with their third. Izzie is 23 now, and she seems to be over her love for Kit. She had a relationship with Henry, Venetia’s eldest son, but it didn’t work. Yet, she feels he still holds a candle for her.
Interesting start. I’m sorry this is the last instalment in the family since I’ve enjoyed knowing these characters so much. In any case, I’ll enjoy this new novel while it lasts.