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I'm exhausted. Lucinda Riley is hard on her characters, and hard to put down. The background of the movies and TV is fascinating in it's own right. Then there was the location of Marchmont. I'm hooked on this author.
As another entertaining Lucinda Riley selection, "The Angel Tree" introduces the reader to three generations of women who are lucky enough to latch onto the beautiful Marchmont Estate in Wales even though they have absolutely no blood tie. With her melodramatic style, Riley creates situations that keep the reader entertained with an occasional roll of the eyes and toss of the head in disbelief at the unrealistic dialogue spouted by men created only for the purpose of ornamenting the key women players. Certainly not great literature, "The Angel Tree" still manages to suck the reader in like a good soap opera even though the audience already has a pretty good idea of what the final pages will bring to all characters. Perhaps this satisfaction adds to the story's likability.
Riley frames her story from the perspective of Greta, a woman who has lost her memory after a devastating accident. Will Greta remember her past? How will her recollections change the future? After depicting Greta in all her pitiful befuddlement, Riley embarks on time jumps that begin with a younger Greta in love with a Yankee officer in the London during the end of WW2. As a dancer at the risque club known as the Windmill, Greta is judged unfairly by her soldier when he inadvertently attends one of her performances; she is left high and dry, pregnant with no where to go. Enter David, a comedian known as Taffy, who offers her solace in the form of a place to stay on his family's estate in Wales. His generosity initiates a chain of events that will change his life and his mother's in ways he cannot even imagine.
Greta's daughter, Cheska becomes a child star along the lines of Shirley Temple; but her increased exposure to the world of make-believe creates a psyche that needs constant love and attention and sadly threatens to explode when she is pushed into a harsher reality. When she meets Bobby Cross, an Elvis Presley type with a terrible reputation, Cheska's innocence is severely compromised and mother Greta is left to pull unraveled strings together.
Third generation Ava wants nothing more than to be a veterinarian on the family estate; when super star Cheska re-enters her life, all hell breaks loose.
Like all Lucinda Riley stories, there is love and tragedy. The Angel Tree has more than its share of tragic situations that almost seem comedic at times. This reviewer didn't embrace the characters of Greta or Cheska with much warmth; they are rather mechanical in their responses and even though Cheska has the excuse of mental illness, Greta does not. Ava is a little too goody-goody to actually have a real personality but as this is a Riley saga and one cannot expect fully blown three-dimensional characters, the reader should not expect much more. For those who like a good soap opera, you will enjoy "The Angel Tree" despite its pathetic characters and its way out scenarios.
I listened to the audio book version of this novel. The reader performed well and kept me entertained as I listened. This offering makes the perfect novel to listen to while exercising or engaging in some activity that requires hands but not much intense thought.
Bottom line? This is one of the better Lucinda Riley offerings. It has its share of misery but doesn't amble on like some of her other sagas like "The Seven Sisters" or "The Italian Girl." This one seems to end where it should without going on and on. Recommended for those who like a light predictable read. Diana Faillace Von Behren "Buzzard's Eye View"