I don’t normally read 500+ page books
I think the last one I read was empire of the vampire. If it’s over 500 pages, I’m incredibly critical; why did you need this many pages to tell a story and can you really hold my attention for that long?
Well, if you’re Jackie French you can!
Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies is the first in the series by the same name by Jackie French. The series consists of 5 books and several novellas or short stories (I haven’t really checked). I just want them!
Once again, I find the more I like a book, the lower the quality of my review. I’m sure that this one, like any, can fall short of the next persons expectations, but honestly, good writing is good writing, and when things flow and make you believe you’re in a different world, you can excuse almost anything.
Look how men sit, with their legs apart. It is a gorilla pose yelling: ‘Look at me, I challenge you.’ A well-bred woman must find another way to assert dominance.
While other people make you read garbage, Jackie French is a good writer. I’m a fast reader who likes to put the book down every few minutes to walk around; it makes me happy to read that way. I noticed fairly quickly that I was going long periods without putting it down and without speed reading it. To sum, this book is a page turner!
I wasn’t sure how I liked how the story started, with her and the driver (FINDING OUT WHO HE REALLY WAS OMG), but as it went on, I really wouldn’t have had it any other way. That start is the most boring part of the book, in my opinion, and when you get done, which is when you start page 15, you really into things!
We manage quite well here, given everything. Surprisingly well. Sometimes I look at the wives and widows ploughing the fields, the girls here who should be at dances or tennis parties, and think, Where was all this ability bottled up before the war? Has anyone noticed how easily a man’s world has become woman’s?
I liked Sophie. I liked all the characters that surrounded her, from Hannelore and Alison who are friends, to Emily who is a bit more complicated, to Miss Lily who is everything. It’s also nice to see characters come and go in the story, although when Malcom showed up I felt like the world war had turned all these places into Islamabad. It may be a capital but its a tiny city where you run into someone you know all the time. I think I’m particularly fond of this aspect of the book because it reminds me of my undergraduate and the friends that I made, who I love and trust.
I was just a bit heartbroken when Sophie said her goodbyes at the end. I understand why, but I can be sad nonetheless. I loved the way the Jackie French ended the book, because now I can hope for more Hannelore. I’m also really hoping to see more of Sophie’s father, who I love as a character. I think with Mrs. Thwaites, you can see that she didn’t grow up spoiled, but he still indulged her as much as he could, and made good decisions regarding her; such as sending her to London for a season.
The start in that sense was fairly relatable; you can see that Malcom is a bit of a fortune hunter, not exactly, but his intentions and his family’s intentions aren’t the purest. And then you see how absolutely awful her MIL was, and you feel so bad because so many women excuse that behaviour and hope things will get better. That moment when Mrs Thwaites was all, well you know their family has had a setback financially…
I’m going to try and stop here because I can’t write about what I loved in each part of the book! But I do want to highlight that the book was about power, and the ways in which women had to wield it subtly.
This book is well worth a read and I encourage you to try it out!
THE STORY IS EQUAL PARTS DOWNTOWN ABBEY AND WARTIME ACTION , WITH ENOUGH ROMANCE AND INTRIGUE TO MAKE IT 100% NOT- PUT- DOWN-ABLE. Australian Woman’s Weekly
A tale of espionage, love and passionate heroism.
Inspired by true events, this is the story of how society’s ‘lovely ladies’ won a war.
Each year at secluded Shillings Hall, in the snow-crisped English countryside, the mysterious Miss Lily draws around her young women selected from Europe’s royal and most influential families. Her girls are taught how to captivate a man – and find a potential husband – at a dinner, in a salon, or at a grouse shoot, and in ways that would surprise outsiders. For in 1914, persuading and charming men is the only true power a woman has.
Sophie Higgs is the daughter of Australia’s king of corned beef and the only ‘colonial’ brought to Shillings Hall. Of all Miss Lily’s lovely ladies, however, she is also the only one who suspects Miss Lily’s true purpose.
As the chaos of war spreads, women across Europe shrug off etiquette. The lovely ladies and their less privileged sisters become the unacknowledged backbone of the war, creating hospitals, canteens and transport systems where bungling officials fail to cope. And when tens of thousands can die in a single day’s battle, Sophie must use the skills Miss Lily taught her to prevent war’s most devastating weapon yet.
But is Miss Lily heroine or traitor?
And who, exactly, is she?