Francesca thought that she had made a good decision when she agreed to marry Bard Channing. His business allowed both of them to have a lifestyle that offered every possible luxury. Her only real responsibilities were to work on committees and do charity work as there wasn't a need for her to have any form of income. In fact, she had staff to help her with the housework and the children.
Everything seemed good until she became worried about her baby's health. One physician stated that the child had a cold and would be well in time but Francesca really believed that the condition was more serious than that. She went against the advice of the nanny, her mother and the physician, booked an appointment with a specialist and had her suspicions confirmed. The little girl had a heart murmur.
Even though this news was difficult for Francesca to accept, what seemed to be even worse was that she began to feel that her husband was more interested in his business than in meeting the needs of herself and the children. In fact, he didn't even seem to be listening to her and, over time, the disconnect between them increased.
Throughout this book, Penny Vincenzi, the author of "The Dilemma" used the relationships that Bard had with others to clearly describe his character. It seemed that this man was very loved and respected by some people while, at the same time, was despised by others. Those who didn't like him were usually people who were victims of his high standards and abusive manner. On the other hand, those who admired him, had been or continued to be beneficiaries of generosity that usually was fueled by his guilt.
Francesca feels abandoned and alone in the marriage, particularly when her mother and husband seem to have formed an alliance without including her, As a result, he becomes involved in creating some secrets of her own.
Throughout the 662 pages of the book, the author reveals a complex plot that involves several interesting characters and a number of secrets, some of which are not revealed until the very end of the story. Bard's children from previous relationships, partners and friends of the family each have important roles in the tale that winds and twists as a result of the choices and behaviours that each person makes.
Money, sex, and mystery contribute to the storyline that is primarily set in England but reaches out to include other countries including the United States. In typical Vincenzi style, each detail that is provided to the reader is important. The characters are made real and display a wide range of emotions that are well-matched to the circumstances that they are experiencing at the time.
One of the main characters, a journalist named Gray, becomes personally and professionally involved with the family and develops a passion to know the truth about Bard and his business transactions. His discoveries, however, place him in an ethical dilemma that has a surprising outcome.
Penny Vincenzi is one of my favourite authors and I have read most of her novels. This one is a good read and, as usual, I was intrigued right to the last page.