Review Blog

Jul 13 2018

The Lily and the Rose by Jackie French

cover image

Angus and Robertson, 2018. ISBN 9781460753590
(Age: 16+) Recommended. Themes: Post-World War 1 History; Independence - Women;  Romance; Peace. Set in the aftermath of World War 1, The Lily and the Rose follows Sophie Higgs, an heiress from an Australian corned beef producer who is also well-schooled in the finer things (including charm and subterfuge). She now stands at the crossroads as the war comes to a conclusion. What will her role in the world entail - marriage and the cultural subservience of the married woman of the times (even if she marries someone with money) or independence, using the skills and talents that were nurtured through hardship and service during the war? This book is a sequel to Miss Lily's Lovely Ladies and it reveals the incredible social changes that impacted women as they struggle to find their place and see what the future holds in the new world of peace. This book is essentially a romantic saga that weaves the characters from the first book into a new phase of life. For Sophie there are many decisions to be made. Will the advice of the unusual Miss Lily, the Charm School instructor, be able to carry her through the upheaval of her life, and will the decisions she makes upset her romantic future too?
Although some aspects of this book would be better understood having met the characters and heard the story from Miss Lily's Lovely Ladies, this is an epic tale and is expansive in highlighting the significant detail needed to put this book into context. It can quite easily be read on its own. However, the character of Miss Lily, whose quoted words appear at the start of many chapters, would be better understood if the first book in the series has also been read.
This book is written for a mature audience - more adult intimacies and relationship dilemmas necessarily make this unsuitable for readers that are too young. Jackie French's light touch though means that there is not too much detail compared to some contemporary writers. The historical nature of the book is appealing as it gives a social history context with links to Australia and the British aristocracy, but it is essentially a romance story with twists and turns as an intelligent and independent woman explores love and independence.
Recommended for mature readers aged 16+.
Carolyn Hull

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