Synopsis: ‘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?’
I have always had an affinity towards historical novels especially early Australian history. While the main character is Australian, this novel takes place mostly in England and Europe during World War I and has a very interesting take on the war. This war is from the women’s point of view and their efforts during this difficult time. Usually the women go unrecognised for their war efforts so it is good to read a book specifically aimed at women, their response to the war and their growth in a man’s world.
This is a fascinating read. The story delves into relationships, family and friends, the harshness of war and feminism. The characters are interesting and engaging and their relationships complex. Jackie French is the master of historical fiction and she has once again proved why with this novel.
Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies is the first of a series of three and I cannot wait for the other books to be published.
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