Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies by Jackie French

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies by Jackie French

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Daughter of a wealthy Australian businessman, Sophie Higgs is among a select number of young women invited to Shillings Hall in England. There she receives instructions in etiquette and the power of charm from the mysterious Miss Lily. But with the coming of a world war, the women of Europe will need to find and exert different kinds of strength in Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies by author Jackie French.

Indeed, don’t let the lovely book cover and the almost too lovely title give you the wrong impression. This isn’t a sweet little tale about English teas and parties (the story’s teas and parties notwithstanding.) This novel based on true events surrounding the Great War is very much a war story, and oftentimes a gruesome one at that.

It’s also a coming of age story. I couldn’t always make sense of the heroine, but I can appreciate the strength and purpose she finds in wartime.

That purpose is what led me to read this novel, since I first read a companion story, With Love from Miss Lily. Admittedly, that Christmas tale, in 30 pages or so, packed more of a punch for me than this novel did in over 500. There were longish lulls in this book between the parts that moved me.

Still, the overall substance and intrigue of the plot made it worth it. Granted, I was almost turned off the book during the last fifth of it. (Even with the roles feminine wiles play in war maneuvers here, having three semi-seductions in back-to-back scenes is overkill, and the ending chapters stretch and complicate matters maybe more than necessary.)

Nevertheless, my historical-fiction-loving self is curious about the promise of postwar challenges here. If/when Book Two of this series becomes available in the US, I plan on reading it.

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Note to my blog readers: this book contains some (not much, but some) content past my usual quasi-conservative preferences and should not be mistaken for Christian Fiction.

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Here’s my review of With Love from Miss Lily: A Christmas Story.

   

 

With Love from Miss Lily: A Christmas Story by Jackie French

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

With Love from Miss Lily: A Christmas Story by Jackie French

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

A year earlier she had been so full of energy, founding her hospitals, organising supplies. The war would end, and there’d be peace and a return to life and joy…
But even President Woodrow Wilson had not been able to negotiate peace, only a ceasefire.

Sophie Higgs had anticipated a different kind of Christmas than this one in 1918 war-torn Europe. Supplies are running low in the hospital she directs, and Spanish flu is killing off patients quickly. But a dying woman in Ward Three, determined to finish a knitting project, may know something Sophie doesn’t in With Love from Miss Lily: A Christmas Story by author Jackie French.

I stepped into a series mid-river when I picked up this booklet, which is sandwiched between two historical fiction novels I haven’t read. The story gives you an intriguing idea of who Miss Lily is but doesn’t spell it out.

Yet, even without all the background information, the heart of this tale paints a complete enough picture to send a poignant, compelling message. Sure, it’s got a soft, inviting, Christmassy cover, and the story’s style is lovely, but the dark, harsh backdrop of wartime desperation is clear. This is an account of resistance, of espionage, and of the sharp ingenuity that comes to the fore when ordinary people find themselves in the most critical of circumstances.

A quick, impactful, hopeful Christmas story indeed. I’m sure it’s meant to whet one’s appetite to read more of the series, and for me, it’s done just that.

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11/01/18: since these books are from HarperCollins Australia (and two are upcoming releases!), availability in the US is limited—or at least delayed, I figure. You know, like international television shows and whatnot. 🙂 But I procured an ebook copy of Book One, and we’ll see what happens from there!

Here’s my review of Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies.