Lily A Tale of Revenge by Rose Tremain @chattoBooks @vintagebooks #RoseTremain #Lily #LilyATaleofRevenge #TheClqrt #BookReview #BookBlogger

Chatto & Windus November 2021

Book Description

Nobody knows yet that she is a murderer…

Abandoned at the gates of a London park one winter’s night in 1850, baby Lily Mortimer is saved by a young police constable and taken to the London Foundling Hospital. Lily is fostered by an affectionate family in rural Suffolk, enjoying a brief childhood idyll before she is returned to the Hospital, where she is punished for her rebellious spirit. Released into the harsh world of Victorian London, Lily becomes a favoured employee at Belle Prettywood’s Wig Emporium, but all the while she is hiding a dreadful secret….

Across the years, policeman Sam Trench keeps watch over the young woman he once saved. When Sam meets Lily again, there is an instant attraction between them and Lily is convinced that Sam holds the key to her happiness – but might he also be the one to uncover her crime and condemn her to death?

My Thoughts

Thank you firstly to the publisher for my gifted, finished copy of this stunning book. As a fan of historical fiction I was eager to pick this one up. The story of Lily is told in a then and now format in the third person narrative. Lily is found at the gates of a park as a newborn baby and taken to the Foundling Hospital by a kindly policeman. She spends six wonderful years with a foster family before the law requires she be returned to the Foundling Hospital to work to pay off her debt. What follows is a condensed spell of hardship, abuse and mistreatment before we meet adult Lily who while poor, has secured a job making wigs for a notorious and colourful wigmaker.

In adulthood Lily holds a secret, she has committed a serious crime and she feels pressured to confess, but knows this will lead to her own death. This aspect of the story was intriguing. For Lily as a foundling child she is alone in the world and as her story progressed, there were several who I thought may have been the victim of her crime, although as the story unfolded it’s direction became clearer.

This is a grand piece of historical fiction, relatively short at under 300 pages and very readable. The parts set in the Foundling Hospital were not always comfortable to read as the children were subject to cruelty at the hands of some who should be caring for them. On the other hand Lily’s experiences in foster care were heart warming. The detail in this book was rich and I found myself immersed in London in the late 19th Century. An enjoyable read, my first Rose Tremain but absolutely not my last!

Will you be reading this one?

Thanks as always for reading.

About the Author

Rose Tremain’s novels and short stories have been published in thirty countries and have won many awards, including the Orange Prize (The Road Home), the Dylan Thomas Award (The Colonel’s Daughter and Other Stories), the Whitbread Novel of the Year (Music & Silence) the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (Sacred Country) and the South Bank Sky Arts Award (The Gustav Sonata). Her most recent novel is Islands of Mercy. Rose Tremain was made a CBE in 2007 and a Dame in 2020. She lives in Norfolk and London with the biographer, Richard Holmes.

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