A Perfect Heritage by Penny Vincenzi

In brief: The House of Farrell, leading cosmetics brand of many years ago, is now almost bankrupt. The family business will need to take on an outsider in Bianca Bailey to attempt to turn its fortunes around.

The good: It’s Penny Vincenzi, so you know this will be a wonderful story.

The not-so-good: Some of the history of Florence and her lover was a little long at times.

Why I chose it: I will read anything Penny Vincenzi writes. Even better if it’s so heavy that I can’t lift the novel by one hand!

Year: 2014

Pages: 753

Publisher: Headline Review (Hachette)

Setting: London, France, Sydney…around the world really!

My rating: 9.5 out of 10

The words Penny Vincenzi and cosmetics company when combined got me all in a flutter when I heard about this book. I love Penny’s books and I’m a cosmetics junkie so when she writes about this, of course I’m going to read it! The real question is, why did it take me so long? I think I wanted to savour this big book, so I waited until I was on holidays to really get the most out of it (translation: stay up very, very late reading). It’s also pretty big at 753 pages, and I don’t read too many chunksters these days for unknown, likely trivial reasons.

A Perfect Heritage has everything I want in a Penny Vincenzi book:

  • Gorgeous dress on front cover
  • A list of characters (I literally swoon over these, then think I’ll never remember them all but of course, I do because Penny Vincenzi is a master at making each one a complete individual)
  • A number of boardroom battles, cloaked in civility
  • Some truly gorgeous characters
  • At least one heinous villain
  • Blind twists in plot
  • A happily ever after for the characters I’ve come to regard as close friends.

The storyline of A Perfect Heritage centres on The House of Farrell, a decaying cosmetics house that hasn’t kept up with the times. It clings to one hero product, The Cream, but it’s outdated and old-ladyish. Enter Bianca Bailey (top business mind with an awesome name) to turn the company around and make it popular again in the Queen’s Jubilee year. Bianca knows what hard work is, but she hadn’t thought that working with Lady Athina Farrell, co-founder would be so difficult. Lady Farrell sees herself as THE name and The Boss of the company. She’s also not averse to underhand tactics to get her way. It’s a full battle to try to bring the House of Farrell forward, which has disastrous effects on Bianca’s home life. The employees of the House of Farrell, both old and new, have their own problems and secrets. Some of these in turn could be problematic for the company…

One of the strengths of Penny Vincenzi’s writing for me is the detail she puts into her characters. I now know so much about Bianca, husband Patrick and their children I feel like I should be sending them a Christmas card this year! Each member of this novel’s cast is intricately drawn and truly individual. No need to refer to the character list after very long! I could see the lines of stress on Bianca’s face as Athina usurped her and the joy as she solved a seemingly unsurmountable problem. I could see Bertie Farrell bumbling around the office blindly, yet caring so much for his staff. I cried with Susie as she was blackmailed and all along, the wise eyes of Florence helped to guide the House of Farrell gently but forcibly forward.

There’s a lot of tension in this book as the House of Farrell falls into one calamity after another. Some were so dire that I couldn’t possibly see how Bianca and co could find a way out. True, not all of the solutions were successful but this dose of real life only made the story sparkle more for me. A page-turner with an engaging set of characters – what more could you ask for in a book?

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