Rarely have I come across ‘chick-lit’ that is so engaging. I’m not even going to call it ‘chick-lit’ because it’s just plain good fiction. While a man might not enjoy it as much as I did, I refuse to banish A Rather Lovely Inheritance into the realms of ‘chick-lit’ obscurity.
We meet heroine Penny Nichols, a regular American girl, on a big movie shoot in the south of France. She is the historical researcher for the film, working mostly freelance and working herself to the bone in the process. Penny receives a call while on set that her Aunt Penelope has passed away and she must leave for London at once to hear the reading of the will.
In a lot of ways this opening reminds me of Mary Stewart and her wonderful novels from the 1950s and '60s. A lovely heroine is somewhere exotic and on the brink of adventure. All through the novel it maintains this classic, elegant feel while still remaining modern and in our own time.
So Penny dashes off to London to be met by her cousin Jeremy, who is also the lawyer handling the execution of Aunt Penelope’s will. There she meets the English side of her family that she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl. While at first they seem a little reserved, they do warm up to her eventfully. All except her Cousin Rollo and Aunt Dorothy, who are contending the will, demanding in face that they get a larger portion of it.
But Aunt Penelope leaves most of it to Penny and Jeremy, who just happens to get the villa in France. Penny gets the garage and its contents, which includes a classic car as well as the apartment in London. But slimy Cousin Rollo won’t give those things up without a fight.
The tale that follows is worthy of any girl detective novel. Stolen art, mysterious relatives, secrets, romance and kept women; all of this is handled very lightly and with a touch of humor that kept me turning pages well into the night.
A Rather Lovely Inheritance is a well balanced delightful first novel from C.A. Belmond. I closed this book with a smile on my face and a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart. How often do books leave you that way? Not often enough.