Lily's Daughter Hardcover – 14 Jan 1988
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Top customer reviews
What then follows is a perfectly produced coming of age story, which thoughtfully steers Jessica through a uniquely troubled time and which also, demonstrates Jessica's overwhelming need to be loved and cherished. Throughout the story, Jessica has much to learn, not just about her new family, but also about life in general as the implicit trust which she places in people is about to be tested to the absolute limit.
Lily's Daughter, although originally written in the late 1980s, is beautifully reminiscent of a bygone era and captures perfectly the essence of 1930s England, and a time when when Europe was on the cusp of war. As conflict looms, long buried secrets and forgotten memories are poised to threaten the peace and harmony of the Mayne family forever.
Throughout the story the writing is impeccable; there is no doubt that the author has a natural writing skill. The story is warm and witty with an underlying poignancy which is quite endearing. The characters are believable and finely portrayed and very quickly start to forge their individual personalities on the story. There are some lovely details and a poignant lyricism which makes the story a real pleasure to read and enjoy. It is also lovely to revisit a book which has been long forgotten, written by an author who conjures the spirit of a lost age so skilfully.
Jessica is the naïve 17 year-old narrator of this tale but has had to grow up fast. Alone in London, having had to have her mother committed, and with rent arrears to pay and new lodgings to find, Jessica is surprised and relieved to receive financial help from a solicitor. Rarely can a member of the legal profession have appeared in such a kindly light as Mr Till. Jessica's mother had thought of lawyers as "a combination of Archangel and the St John Ambulance service" and Mr Till opens the door for Jessica to enter into a new era in her life, leading her to discover a great deal about herself, her family and falling in love.
From the start there are intimations of untold details about Jessica's family and clues as to some of the dark waters that lie ahead as Jessica encounters family members whom she hadn't previously had the opportunity to get to know - her aunt Imogen, rather restrained and cool, her cousin Guy, dashing and self-assured, and then her grandmother, ill and haunted by guilt. At Huntersmeade, Aunt Imogen's home, Jessica also meets house-guests; the highly-strung Deirdre, whom Guy is expected to marry, and Aaron, a Polish Jew whose character and intelligent understanding contrast strongly with Guy's insouciant, selfish and shallow approach to everything in his life.
There is a rich palette of mildly exotic or eccentric characters like Barry Cole, actor and family friend, and lively Brenda from the secretarial school, who have a part to play as we follow Jessicas's journey of discovery about her family. The story draws you on as events unfold inexorably.
Jessica's family story is set in the 1930's with the abdication crisis in the UK, the Spanish Civil war and the lead-up to WW2, particularly poignantly in Poland, where Aaron's family were still living. However, these momentous world events are mostly just the backdrop to Jessica's life with her bitter-sweet experiences of love, loss, marriage and motherhood.
A well-written story, but I thought it a bit slow at times. I also found Jessica’s naivety annoying, but that can be put down to the skill of the author’s writing in creating characters that we can believe in.
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Cover 3/5. I have the hardback version - but do like the Kindle version. Red yellow and brown with simple Author, Title and Lily's daughter?Read more