by Jackie French
I love it when an author surprised you, and this week I was surprised by Jackie French’s book The Lily and The Rose. I love Jackie’s picture and tween books, and have reviewed a few of them. But her Young Adult series, Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies, really captured my heart and imagination.
In The Lily and The Rose,the second book in the series, Sophie Higgs is an Australian heiress who has been through a war and found independence by running hospitals on the front line. When women are asked to return to their former role in society after the war Sophie feels there should be more to her life than the assigned the role of wife and mother. The book essentially tells of her journey to do just that. The book starts in England, but before she leaves Europe for her beloved Australia she needs to deal with her three suitors and her help a friend in need. Once home, she carves a new life for herself, but is forced back to Europe to finally face her true love.
On the surface this book may seem just another historical romance, but it is so much more than that as Sophie struggles to be independent, but also find the true meaning of love. In addition, this book looks at the developing role of women after the war as men try to wrest back their control of society. It also discusses the developing role of Australia in Europe as the traditional colonial nations try to reestablish their hold on the world. And it does this to the backdrop of the lull between the first and second world wars.
Sophie is a likeable character. We forgive her her entitled attitude to life because she is so big of heart and wants to do her best by others. Also, of she were not a wealthy heiress, she would not have been privy to all the political action of 1920’s London and Sydney, and the book would have been so much less without this historic background.
Although this book can be read by younger readers, Sophie is in her early twenties and I suspect much of the content will be of more interest to Young Adult readers of 18 plus. This story is well written and difficult to leave once you start. It can be read stand alone as I did, but it may have you wanting to go back and read the prequel Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies. I know I will be.