It's 1934 and Viv Byrne, is 18 years old, living in a strict Catholic home in Liverpool with a stern mother and a weak father. When she meets jazz musician Joshua Levinson, she is swept up by his looks, his talent and his interest in her as well as a new feeling of independence. Their brief time together results in pregnancy. While the two barely know one another, Joshua, who is Jewish, proposes and Viv's parents agree to the marriage believing that this is the best option. But Mrs. Byrne sabotages the marriage by giving Joshua money to go to New York City to fulfill his dream of playing in a band. Left alone, Viv is determined to be the best mother to her daughter Maggie. But when the war closes in on England, children are evacuated to the countryside. Viv is devastated but agrees to send Maggie to live with a childless couple, arranged by their priest. Joshua ends up coming back to England to serve in the Royal Air Force. A series of occurrences provide heartbreak for these interesting, well-developed characters trying to make it through wartime.
Julia Kelly has become an auto-read author for me. The Lost English Girl is beautifully written and presents the anguish felt by parents during this horrible time who had to make the gut-wrenching decision to send their children away for safety. Viv is an especially appealing character, strong and resilient. Historical Fiction fans - don't miss this one.
Many thanks to Gallery Books and Ms. Kelly for the opportunity to read this wonderful book in advance of its publication. And don't miss her last book, The Last Dance of the Debutante, which takes place in the late 1950s.
Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: Mar 7, 2023.
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