Terrific novel set in the Roaring Twenties, reissued to accompany Philippa Gregory's new bestselling novel, The Other Boleyn Girl Lily Valance wants to forget the war. She's determined to enjoy the world of the 1920s, with its music, singing, laughter and pleasure. When she meets Captain Stephen Winters, a decorated hero back from the Front, she's ...
Terrific novel set in the Roaring Twenties, reissued to accompany Philippa Gregory's new bestselling novel, The Other Boleyn Girl Lily Valance wants to forget the war. She's determined to enjoy the world of the 1920s, with its music, singing, laughter and pleasure. When she meets Captain Stephen Winters, a decorated hero back from the Front, she's drawn to his wealth and status. In Lily he sees his salvation - from the past, from the nightmare, from the guilt at surviving the Flanders plains where so many were lost. But it's a dream that cannot last. Lily has no intention of leaving her singing career. The hidden tensions of the respectable facade of the Winters household come to a head. Stephen's nightmares merge ever closer with reality and the truth of what took place in the mud and darkness brings him and all who loves him to a terrible reckoning...
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While the writing in this novel is quite good, the book is terribly depressing and had me feeling physically ill each time I picked it up. As a writer, I realize reader reaction is a good thing, however, I don't believe you want the reader feeling sick to their stomach and dreading the outcome with each page turned. At least the character of Lily was one I could like and admire, but her husband Stephen who is the other main character has absolutely no redeeming qualities. If Gregory hoped to envoke sympathy because of Stephen's wartime experiences, she failed. He was miserable, selfish and spiteful before he went to war. The only time I felt relief was at the end where at least the outcome was not what I expected. For the reasons stated above, I could not recommend this book even though it is well written. Neither would I read anything else by this author. She has scared me off. I believe in portraying the world realistically, but this book was nothing but a downer.
Publishers Weekly, 2008-09-29 After losing her father in the Great War, working-class girl Lily Pears becomes chorus girl Lily Valance to help support her widowed mother in Gregory's moody 1920s historical. When her dreams of being a featured singer in a dance-hall revue are interrupted by her mother's death, Lily accepts a marriage proposal from Stephen Winters, a regular at the stage door. Stephen, a reluctant but decorated WWI enlistee still wakes up screaming from the horrors he witnessed in the war and hopes marriage to the bubbly Lily will dispel his terror. But Lily's entree into the gloomy Winters family home saps her cheer, and singing onstage becomes her only joy. Predating her popular Tudor series, this novel (originally published in the U.K. in 1994 and being released for the first time stateside) attempts to give equal time to both halves of its unhappy couple with mixed results; the domestic misery and foiled longings will be familiar to fans of Gregory's Boleyn work, but even if this is narrower in scope, it still has plenty of power. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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