Authors: Penny Vincenzi
Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Historical, #Contemporary Women
Copyright © 2014 Penny Vincenzi
The right of Penny Vincenzi to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publishers or, in the case of reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.
First published in Great Britain as an Ebook by Headline Publishing Group in 2014
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library
eISBN: 978 0 7553 7761 9
Jacket photography © Christian Ammann/Gallerystock
Author photograph © Trevor Leighton
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About the Book
The House of Farrell – home of
, an iconic face product that has seen women flocking to its bijoux flagship store in the Berkeley Arcade since 1953.
At Farrell, you can rely on the personal touch. The legendary Athina Farrell remains the company’s figurehead and in her kingdom at the Berkeley Arcade, Florence Hamilton plies their cosmetics with the utmost discretion. She is sales advisor – and holder of secrets – extraordinaire.
But of course the world of cosmetics is changing and the once glorious House of Farrell is now in decline, its customers tempted away by more fashionable brands.
Enter Bianca Bailey, formidable business woman, mother of three, and someone who always gets her way. Athina and Bianca lock horns over the future of the House of Farrell but it is the past that tells its devastating tale of ambition and ego, passion and wonder.
Here is a tale of survival . . . and a perfect heritage.
About Penny Vincenzi
Penny Vincenzi is one of the UK’s best-loved and most popular authors. Since her first novel,
, was published in 1989, she has written sixteen bestselling novels, most recently
number one bestseller
The Best of Times
Her first ‘proper’ job was at the Harrods Library, aged sixteen, after which she went to secretarial college. She joined the
and later became a journalist, writing for
amongst many others, before turning to fiction.
Several years later, over seven million copies of Penny’s books have been sold worldwide and she is universally held to be the ‘doyenne of the modern blockbuster’ (
Penny Vincenzi has four daughters, and divides her time between London and Gower, South Wales.
For exciting updates and the latest news from Penny visit
By Penny Vincenzi
An Outrageous Affair
The Glimpses (short stories)
Almost a Crime
An Absolute Scandal
The Best of Times
Love in the Afternoon and Other Delights (short stories)
A Perfect Heritage
Praise for Penny Vincenzi
In the words of the critics
. . .
‘There are few things better in life than the knowledge that sitting on your bedside table is the latest Penny Vincenzi’
‘Penny Vincenzi’s romantic blockbusters are in a class of their own. Her plots are compelling, her narrative control unfailingly assured, and her characters colourfully drawn’
Mail on Sunday
Reading a Penny Vincenzi novel is
. . .
‘Pure pleasure, Vincenzi-style’
Woman & Home
‘An addictive experience . . . Penny Vincenzi dazzlingly combines the old-fashioned virtues of gripping storytelling with the up-to-the-minute contemporary feel for emotional depth and insight’ Elizabeth Buchan
‘Marvellously engrossing . . . perfect for curling up with on a rainy day. Or any day for that matter’ Barbara Taylor-Bradford
‘Oh, the bliss . . . I was shamefully glued, as if to the best gossip’ Kate Saunders,
‘Glamorous, weepy, indulgent and at times heartbreaking. Oh, and it has some racy bits, too. Hooray!’
‘Like a glass of champagne: bubbly, moreish and you don’t want it to end’
‘Romps glamorously along, is very well-written and there’s plenty of ceiling-hitting sex and good characters. What more could anyone want? . . . I enjoyed it hugely’
‘This spectacular novel is utterly captivating’
‘There’s one name that continues to reign supreme, Penny Vincenzi’
‘A very involving read, perfect for a lazy rainy afternoon’
For my four darling daughters.
Who are all the world to me.
This has been a lovely book to write; I always enjoy doing the acknowledgements because they take me back on the journey through it.
I certainly couldn’t have managed this on my own; a lot of very disparate knowledge has gone into it, gleaned from a huge range of people, all of whom gave me, with the utmost generosity, their time and attention in large measure. Most of them didn’t just tell me things, they threw themselves into their task and made suggestions about possible plot twists in their particular areas.
A lot of people from the cosmetic industry were extraordinarily helpful: Robin Vincent, long-time boss of Clarins UK, breathed life into the House of Farrell for me; Charlotte Alexander gave me a most useful teach-in on the world of beauty PR today – very different from when I was a beauty editor – and introduced me to the world of the beauty blogger; Emily Warburton gave me a magnificent overview of the past fifteen years she has spent in the cosmetic industry; Beverley Bayne told me more amazing things about perfume and its formulation than I could ever have imagined; Ella Bradley, magical make-up artist, took me into her glamorous world, showed me the magic she works on a daily basis, and offered me an insight into such heady stuff as doing the make up for London Fashion Week, and Julia Cruttenden, who very sadly died last December, allowed me to attend classes at Greasepaint, her completely wonderful make-up school.
Over in the City of London, Matt Frenchman, by way of a brilliant teach-in, made the almost incomprehensible business of the hedge fund just about comprehensible, and huge thanks to Ben Noakes, who provided me with a most valuable insight into the world of the currency trader, and even allowed me to sit at his desk for one astonishing (and very noisy) afternoon.
Edward Harris, a wonderfully brilliant and creative solicitor, and his wife, the lovely Mrs Harris, provided me with the utterly ingenious idea of the tontine, without which the plot might not have reached maturity.
Ed Chilcott, advertising whizz-man, not only explained advertising today but also worked with me, via many a long and torturous phone call, on the advertising campaign that was to bring the House of Farrell into a most dazzling limelight.
Anthony Beerbohm guided me tirelessly around first Paris and then Grasse, with huge knowledge and skill, and thence into some wonderful restaurants and bars.
My granddaughter Honor Cornish imparted some much-needed knowledge of the clothes, shopping habits, customs and language of her particular age group.
Another granddaughter, Jemima Harding, generously agreed to lend me her (very nice) name for one of my (very nice) characters.
Peter Mayer, long-term friend and publisher extraordinaire, showed me the wonders of SoHo one sunny lunchtime and afternoon in New York and helped me to find the perfect location for the Farrell shop there. Jemima Barton did the same search for me in Singapore and Polly Harding in Sydney.
Moving nearer home, it has been the greatest pleasure to work with Imogen Taylor for the first time as my editor. She is not only supportive, creative and fun, but also has an extraordinary knack for getting the extra five per cent out of not just me, but also my plots. And her assistant Emma Holtz is not only brilliantly efficient, she’s also talked me patiently through my interminable crises of a computer-y nature.
And thank you so, so much Yeti Lambregts, for what must be one of my most beautiful covers ever!
Thank you Jo Liddiard for some brilliant marketing thinking. And much gratitude to the incomparable Georgina Moore, who has worked her magic with the publicity campaign with a click of her high heels and a brisk wave of her wand.
I owe a huge amount, and for the umpteenth time, to Kati Nicholls (never give up on me, Kati!), most brilliant of copy editors, who manages to cut swathes of superfluous words from my books in a way that even I can’t spot when they’ve gone, and checks and re-checks everything in a totally reassuring manner.
Life would be quite unimaginable without Clare Alexander, wonderful agent and friend, who has soothed, advised and reassured me through many books now, invited me to her dazzling dinner parties and, possibly most importantly of all, made me laugh. A lot.
And finally, of course, my long-suffering family, daughters, sons-in-law and grandchildren, who keep me sane in their various ways, provide answers to my questions about whatever their area of expertise might be – from wine to designer watches, cars to cameras – tell me I’m wrong when I say the book will never, ever be finished and have supported me most wonderfully through a long, tough year.