Author: Julia Kelly
Published by: Gallery Books on Mar. 7, 2023
Genres: Historical Fiction
Source: Simon & Schuster Canada
Book Rating: 9/10
The acclaimed author of the “sweeping and beautifully written novel” (Woman’s World) The Light Over London weaves an epic saga of love, motherhood, and betrayal set against World War II.
Liverpool, 1935: Raised in a strict Catholic family, Viv Byrne knows what’s expected of her: marry a Catholic man from her working-class neighborhood and have his children. However, when she finds herself pregnant after a fling with Joshua Levinson, a Jewish man with dreams of becoming a famous Jazz musician, Viv knows that a swift wedding is the only answer. Her only solace is that marrying Joshua will mean escaping her strict mother’s scrutiny. But when Joshua makes a life-changing choice on their wedding day, Viv is forced once again into the arms of her disapproving family.
Five years later and on the eve of World War II, Viv is faced with the impossible choice to evacuate her young daughter, Maggie, to the countryside estate of the affluent Thompson family. In New York City, Joshua gives up his failing musical career to serve in the Royal Air Force, fight for his country, and try to piece together his feelings about the family, wife, and daughter he left behind at eighteen. However, tragedy strikes when Viv learns that the countryside safe haven she sent her daughter to wasn’t immune from the horrors of war. It is only years later, with Joshua’s help, that Viv learns the secrets of their shared past and what it will take to put a family back together again.
Telling the harrowing story of England’s many evacuated children, bestselling author Julia Kelly’s The Lost English Girl explores how one simple choice can change the course of a life, and what we are willing to forgive to find a way back to the ones we love and thought lost.
Immersive, moving, and sweet!
The Lost English Girl is a captivating, heart-wrenching tale set in Liverpool during WWII that takes you into the life of Viv Byrne, a young catholic girl who, after making a mistake with a local Jewish boy whom she marries in name only to protect her family’s reputation, struggles to raise her child alone under the roof of her cruel, judgemental parents until she is coerced into sending her daughter to the British countryside to live for the duration of the war leaving her wracked with heartbreak, guilt, and a determination to do whatever she can to build a new life for them for when she returns.
The prose is vivid and smooth. The characters are resilient, brave, and endearing. And the plot is a poignant, compelling tale about life, loss, family, secrets, separation, desperation, tragedy, grief, parenthood, friendship, duplicitous behaviours, and the horrors and hardships of war.
Overall, The Lost English Girl is a hopeful, heartwarming, affecting tale by Kelly inspired by true-life events that is a wonderful choice for anyone who loves to be swept away into a well-written historical fiction novel that delves into the unimaginable sacrifices and deeply emotional choices people often must make during times of war.
This novel is available now.
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Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Great review, Zoë. I have been wondering about this book, and now I am going to add it to my shelf. It sounds really good and I like the themes represented.