Lucinda Riley is an incredible story teller. I found it extremely interesting that this book was first published in 1995 under the title ‘Not Quite an Angel’ and then Lucinda rewrote it in 2013, keeping a character alive and changing a lot of the dialogue. I wish I had a copy of the original so I could compare!! I wonder how many other authors rewrite their work?
The story focuses on the interconnected highs and lows of three generations; a grandmother, a mother and a daughter, and how David has been there for all three of them…but do they even notice the sacrifices he makes for them?
Lucinda is well known for producing big chunky novels so instead of trying to summarise the story, which would probably take me a good 500 words I thought I would spice it up and just focus on what each character brought to this story.
The ‘grandmother’ – although as this story bounces back and forth between time, when we first meet Greta, we meet a young, anxious pregnant girl. When the father of her child finds out Greta’s profession, he’s quit to scoot back to the U.S. leaving Greta in a tight spot. Finding herself at Marchmont, Greta does what any young girl would do and quickly gets to work in securing herself and her bump, a father and a provider – Owen.
When Owen becomes addicted to alcohol and shows a violent side, Greta and her daughter Cheska leave the comfort and riches of Marchmont and head for London for a fresh and broke start.
Greta has had a rather challenging start to life but luck finally blows her way when her daughter Cheska is picked to star in a movie at the age of four. Greta has strong maternal instincts and her over protectiveness leads to her controlling her daughter’s life and finances. I don’t disagree with Greta’s choices but at the same time I don’t think Cheska would have rebelled as strongly if she’d had some breathing space. Ultimately Greta’s strong maternal instincts leave her in a coma, following a rather questionable accident.
Greta awakes with no memory, which is rather fortunate since her daughter has fled to the US and her granddaughter has been abandoned…. I think waking up to something like that must be incredibly upsetting.
As the chapters build up, the memories start to flood black and Greta is hit with events that bring her pain, remorse and love.
David has ALWAYS been in love with Greta and therefore will do anything for Greta, Cheska and Ava. The way he continued to help Greta bamboozled me… but it just goes to show you the power of love. He’s an admirable chap – always coming to the rescue for his girls and this includes his mother, LJ.
David provides the stable character for not only the other characters but for the overall story – when something goes wrong, your mind automatically thinks of David coming to the rescue.
I think the ending was justifiable as it gave David his happy ending.
Having a grandmother who had no idea who she was and a mother that abandoned her at birth, you can’t help but be amazed that Ava has turned out to be such an incredibly kind and caring young woman.
We meet Ava at various times throughout her life and watch her grow up and become a fantastic vet. Just after her eighteenth birthday, Ava finally meets her mother and comes face to face with the one woman who drives her insane but yet she still feels like she has to help. Ava’s strong sense to protect her family is selfless and inspiring.
I think analysing Cheska’s character is the most difficult. It seems simple enough to blame her erratic behaviour on a mental illness but I can’t help thinking the way she was brought up didn’t help. We’ve seen it in real life how fame affects some child film stars, so it’s easy to link Cheska’s selfish and demanding behaviour to this.
Despite Greta’s determination, history repeated itself when Cheska falls pregnant at a young age. With the father refusing to own up to his responsibilities, it’s not surprising that she flipped. At this point, the question of normal reactions comes in to play and I can appreciate that Cheska’s behaviour is not natural – her physical reaction to hurt both her mother and her baby’s father is difficult to comprehend.
When Cheska flees to America, leaving Ava with LJ, I can appreciate that her behaviour is completely selfish but I can’t help thinking she did the right thing. Cheska would not have provided the maternal qualities that Ava would have needed. Plus this was the first time she had any real control over her life, she was finally becoming independent.
When Cheska returns to the UK after another breakdown, any positive thoughts that I have about her fly out the window. Despite everything, Cheska has turned into a self centred, selfish bitch. Cheska forces her daughter to do something she doesn’t want to do, tries to steal her boyfriend and then treats LJ in a way that is purely sickening….and to think at the start she was a quiet and adorable little girl.
Even though Tor plays a rather small part in this story, I instantly warmed to her. She’s the perfect example of a lovely, kind and selfless lady.
Tor is David’s girlfriend and whilst David spends a lot of time with Greta as she gets back her memory, Tor is patient and understanding.
Tor is the kind of woman that is never in the spotlight but is always known for her reliability and patience. I don’t think many women would put up with David cancelling holidays and meals for him to run off to be the knight in shining armour.
The final few moments between David and Tor further solidify that there really are some lovely women out there…. If only I could be as selfless and as patient as Tor!
LJ, Owen’s one true love and mother to David, has always put Marchmont first, looking after the estate and it’s future is her priority. Although LJ’s dream is for the estate to be passed down to her son David, when Cheska dumps Ava with her, she can’t help but fall in love. LJ becomes Ava’s mother figure and when Ava takes an interest in animals, LJ realises that there’s more to life than just family blood.
LJ is a no nonsense kind of lady… she’s the member in the family that you know you can go and talk to and she’ll give you an honest answer, even if it’s harsh. Every family needs an LJ!
Mary is ‘the staff’ at Marchmont, she’s the sensible one that is aware of everything that is going on but doesn’t interfere.
What I couldn’t get my head around was Mary’s age! She’s with this family throughout all this drama, cleaning, cooking and looking after them… Surely she must be past retirement!?! After 40 years of cleaning that huge house, I’d want to put my feet up!
This turned out to be a long post! I hope you’ve enjoyed the different analysis style! As I said earlier, this is a long and complex story and therefore I’ve not even touched on how some of the other characters fit in….so I’ll leave it up to you to find out how Jonny and Simon fit in!
Until next time, Chloé x