Monday, March 23, 2009

Review: Palace Circle by Rebecca Dean

I don't normally do this, but , for this book I am quoting Publisher's weekly for a wonderfully succinct synopsis.

“From London to Cairo, in the glittery world of high society before WWII, Dean taps into an exotic and distant world in her page-turning debut. After 18-year-old Virginia belle Delia marries older British aristocrat Ivor Conisborough, they decamp to London and get to work on producing an heir for the aging viscount. Delia is agog at her new friends in high places, but her idyll is trampled when she learns a painful secret about Ivor. Even so, Delia is endlessly infatuated with London, and she eventually has two girls, Petronella and Davina. The family, to Delia’s chagrin, is relocated to Cairo on a long diplomatic mission, and here the novel really sings, as Hitler’s campaign hits closer to home and everyone seems to have ulterior motives. Davina and Petronella, meanwhile, grow into young women who think of Cairo as home and fall in love with men they meet there. Dean beautifully captures the mood and color of the era – her descriptive passages are marvelous and complement the layered intrigue, romance and deception.”-- Publishers Weekly

From the cover of this book, I was apprehensive that the story would be a light romance a la Harlequin style. I was not prepared for the depth of the characters and the most intriquing historical parts of the book. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of romance in this book. In fact, there is a lot of romance, some dalliances and even true love! I hadn't even begun chapter two when I knew I would be immersed in a fascinating novel. It drew me in immediately and I was so enrapt with the world of the Conisborough family and their circle of friends and family, I resented when real life intruded and I had to put the book down.

For some reason, I am always enthralled with stories set during war time and sagas written over several decades. That multi - generational aspect is always interesting. I like to see the continuity of the characters and the growth they experience. As for the historical parts of this novel, they were woven into the story so expertly, I was captivated. I had no real knowledge of Egypt's part in WWII so this was most enlightening to me. It just made the story come alive as there are numerous real life people in the book. It is so well done, it is almost hard to tell where reality ends and fiction begins.

PW is so correct in saying Ms. Dean captures the tone and mood of the time. I felt like I was transported, both mentally and emotionally, into the scene . The characters were fleshed out to perfection. I found it extremely easy to imagine all of them. I am really anticipating Ms. Dean's next book. I just loved Palace Circle , highly recommend it and rate it 5*****

Random House has a great website devoted to this book. I found it very helpful to review the historical timeline here and the historical who's who here. The web page also contains an excerpt of Ms. Dean's next book and that can be read in PDF format here.

About the book:

Format: Trade Paperback, 432 pagesOn Sale: March 24, 2009Price: $14.00ISBN:978-0-7679-3055-0 (0-7679-3055-

I want to extend a big thank you to Random House for participating in the Shelf Awareness program for this book.


  1. Glad to see such a high rating on this...I also have the book, but haven't read it yet.

  2. Pretty! I will have to say that I am a little disappointed that it isn't a light romance, but I am looking for some decent historicals to read! I will have to check this out - how old is the viscount, not super-old I hope?

  3. Epic rat - I just left you a comment on your blog but for any one else, please do not think there is no romance in this book because there is a LOT of romance And true love ( sigh, swoon) in this book.

  4. I think I asked for this one too late (either that or my mailman has decided to mess with my head) since I didn't get it. Reading your review makes really wish I had gotten it!!!

  5. Wonderful review! I might have been put off by the cover. Thanks!

    Kelly :)

  6. Sounds like a wonderful mix of lots that I enjoy.

  7. O that's too weird! I went on Goodreads to add it to my TBR pile and the cover is different! Well, it's the same exact cover except she doesn't have the blue dress. It's white and way way more demure. She looks like she's a Victorian lady about to give a tea party. Not going to a ball. Weird!

  8. This is currently on my bedside table - in the To Be Read Very Soon stack. Glad to know you enjoyed it so much!

  9. Ooh, great links at the end! Thanks, I'll check those out. I enjoyed reading your review, so I linked to you here.


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