Tuesday, March 8, 2011
The Linen Queen...Review
Abandoned by her father and neglected by her self-centered, unstable mother, Sheila McGee cannot wait to escape the drudgery of her mill village life in Northern Ireland. Her classic Irish beauty helps her win the 1941 Linen Queen competition, and the prize money that goes with it finally gives her the opportunity she's been dreaming of. But Sheila does not count on the impact of the Belfast blitz which brings World War II to her doorstep. Now even her good looks are useless in the face of travel restrictions, and her earlier resolve is eroded by her ma's fear of being left alone.
When American troops set up base in her village, some see them as occupiers but Sheila sees them as saviors—one of them may be her ticket out. Despite objections from her childhood friend, Gavin O'Rourke, she sets her sights on an attractive Jewish-American army officer named Joel Solomon, but her plans are interrupted by the arrival of a street-wise young evacuee from Belfast.
Frustrated, Sheila fights to hold on to her dream but slowly her priorities change as the people of Northern Ireland put old divisions aside and bond together in a common purpose to fight the Germans. Sheila's affection for Joel grows as she and Gavin are driven farther apart. As the war moves steadily closer to those she has grown to love, Sheila confronts more abandonment and loss, and finds true strength, compassion, and a meaning for life outside of herself.
After reading The Yellow House, I had no desire to read any more from Patricia Falvey. However, I'd already accepted the opportunity to review The Linen Queen and so I went ahead hoping for some improvement. While I liked it better than The Yellow House, I didn't like it very much.
The political history of Northern Ireland is interesting, but sad. It can be fascinating instead of depressing though. The Linen Queen is depressing. The characters aren't likeable. Sheila is annoying, the other characters are caricatures and shallow. Mildly compelling but ultimately disappointing.
Thanks to Sarah Reck of FaithWords for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Patricia Falvey here. You can purchase your own copy here.