Title: The Lost English Girl
Author: Julia Kelly
Genre: Historical fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5
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 nineteen. 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.
I do love Julia Kelly’s novels, so this was a no-brainer. There was some hard stuff in this novel, though. Viv’s mother was a terrible person, and it was gut-wrenching to read her treatment of Viv. Joshua wasn’t exactly a catch, but his journey was good to read. Poor Viv. What a terrible thing the first part of her life was, until she grew into herself and realized she had the strength to make her own life. Let’s be honest: Viv is a better person than I am, because I’m not sure what I would have done to Mrs. Thompson. This is a solid read, and I ended up plowing through 3/4s of it in one sitting, eager to find out what happened.
Julia Kelly is a bestselling author. The Lost English Girl is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review.)