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March 5, 2023

The Lost English Girl by @The_Julia_Kelly ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

An epic saga of love, motherhood, and betrayal set against World War II.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of historical fiction novel The Lost English Girl by Julia Kelly
March 2023; Gallery Books; 978-1982171704
audio, ebook, print (416 pages); historical fiction

The Lost English Girl
 is a beautifully written and well-researched novel about the human toll of Operation Pied Piper in England in 1939.  The war was ramping up and the government made people in the cities send their children to assumed safety in the rural areas of England.   Almost 3 million children were evacuated during the first four days of the operation and ultimately more than 3.5 million children were relocated. 

The story begins in 1935 in Liverpool.  Viv lives with her parents and they are very strict Catholics.  The plans for her life were to marry a Catholic man and have babies while staying in the working-class area of the city.  After a brief fling with a Jewish man, Joshua, Viv finds that she's pregnant.  The only solution was for them to marry.  He agreed but right after the marriage when Viv's mother offered him money to leave, he left for New York to try to make a living as a saxophone player in the clubs.   Viv had no choice but to move back with her parents who treated her like a servant and never let her forget that she had committed a major sin by having a baby out of wedlock.  Five years after her beloved daughter, Maggie was born, Viv was forced by the local Catholic priest (with pressure from her parents) to send her daughter to a family in the country for her safety.  She didn't want to send her daughter away but decided that it was safer for her daughter out in the country than in an area that would surely be dangerous for her.  She planned to visit her daughter frequently and saw how affluent the family was that she was living with.  She decided to get a job - partially to get away from her disapproving parents and partially to save enough money to bring her daughter home at the end of the war.  At the same time  Joshua, now living in NYC, decides to return to England to fight in the RAF.  He is finally beginning to realize what a mistake it was to leave England and his wife and baby.  When Viv finds out that the safe haven where she sent her daughter isn't safe at all when German planes drop bombs on the home where her daughter is living.  There were twists and turns after Viv met Joshua again and they had to redefine their relationship and Viv had to restart her life despite her grief.

This wonderful story is told mainly from two points of view.  Viv's is a story of love for her daughter in the midst of condemnation from her parents.  She always sees the best in people and is able to forgive some - but not all  - of the wrongs that were done to her.  Joshua was basically a coward when he ran to NYC and he had to learn how to forgive himself for his earlier life.  Viv and Maggie were my two favorite characters, with Joshua in the middle and I absolutely loathed Viv's mother who never had a kind word for her daughter or granddaughter and treated Viv like a slave.   

This was a novel about family and love, forgiveness and redemption but mostly it's a story of how one decision can change someone's entire future.  My thanks to the author for creating a story and characters that I won't soon forget.

Buy The Lost English Girl at Amazon

Susan Roberts grew up in Michigan but loves the laid-back life at her home in the Piedmont area of North Carolina where she is two hours from the beach to the east and the mountains in the west.  She reads almost anything but her favorite genres are Southern Fiction and Historical Fiction.  

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