The Best of Times is a long book, just shy of 900 pages, which takes a little time to develop given its vast number of central characters, which the author also deemed necessary to provide a list of in the introductory pages of the book. The characters are all easily recalled and followed however, being interwoven throughout the novel, with the story smoothly shifting between narrators. Each protagonist is introduced in the days leading up to and following a motorway accident, being the key event of the story which links them all together. The author then primarily explores the platonic and romantic relationships between her subjects.
Vincenzi eloquently defines her characters, all with their differing qualities, faults and idiosyncrasies, alternately lending themselves to the reader’s sympathy, disdain or admiration. Unfortunately these characters didn’t engross me enough to feel any substantial reaction toward them. I generally like novels which are told from differing perspectives and bring various characters together and after reading the synopsis for this book I had high hopes, which sadly weren’t quite met.
To me this was a nice, easy read over the start of summer however, which was welcome after solely reading prescribed texts for my study over the past few months. It’s a book which is easy to read in spurts and starts off strong but unfortunately gets a little tedious toward the end, particularly due to a rather foreseeable and saccharine ending.
“A hot summer’s day. A crowded motorway. A split second that changes everything. Jonathan, the charismatic surgeon returning from a liaison with his mistress, Abi. His wife thinks he’s somewhere else. Georgia, the young actress on her way to audition for the part that could make her career; and Linda, her agent, dynamic, ambitious = but lonely after a failed marriage. Toby, the bridegroom with a dark secret on the way to his wedding, with his best friend Barney. Mary, travelling to the airport to meet her first love, whom she hasn’t seen in over fifty years; William, the farmer who watches the drama unfold across the hill; and Emma, the engaging young surgeon at the nearest hospital. One heartbeat in time, and all their lives are transformed. Worlds are torn apart, mysteries are created, love affairs ended – and ignited. But is it for the worst, or could it be for the best?”