Wednesday 28 April 2021

πŸ“– Book Review ~ Lucia's War by Susan Lanigan


Idee Fixe Press

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

London, 1950. Soprano Lucia Percival has overcome racism and many obstacles to become a renowned opera singer. She is now due to perform her last concert. But she has no intention of going onstage. A terrible secret from her service during the First World War has finally caught up with her.

London, 1917. Lucia, a young Jamaican exile, hopes to make it as a musician. But she is haunted by a tragic separation that is still fresh in her memory – and when she meets Lilian, an old woman damaged by a similar wartime loss, she agrees to a pact that could destroy everything she has fought so hard to achieve.

From the Western Front and the mean streets of Glasgow, to black society in London, Lucia’s story tells a tale of music, motherhood, loss and redemption.

πŸ“– My Thoughts..

The early part of the twentieth century was largely overshadowed by the catastrophic events of the First World War and for Jamaican Lucia Percival life is going to turn out very differently from what she expected. Being part of the Voluntary Aid Detachment, Lucia works as a VAD during some of the worst conflicts of the war, memories of will which never leave her and which shape her destiny. During the early part of this troubled century living life as a black woman was difficult as racism was neither covert nor undisclosed, and whilst Lucia suffered this ghastly prejudice with stoicism and a considered resignation it didn't make it any easier to bear nor excused its narrow-mindedness. 

We pick up the story in a dual time frame, that of 1917 when Lucia finds herself living in London, and later in 1950 when Lucia is a very different woman but one who has carried her secrets close and whose vulnerability continues to dominate. Lucia has a sublime gift for music, and singing, and it is this gift which will cut through her defenses and allow her to succeed in a world where to be both female, and black, was practically a none starter. 

Whilst this story highlights this struggle to succeed, it also takes us back, through Lucia's thoughtful narration, to the events which have brought her to this place and time and by cleverly inserting some Jamaican patois Lucia comes alive in our imagination and the author's thoughtful storytelling allows us to follow every step of her journey. Lucia's War may start during the early part of the twentieth century but as the story moves on it becomes obvious that perhaps, for this brave and stalwart woman Lucia's own personal war never truly ends.

Rich in history, imaginatively written, and with a strong sense of the social and prejudicial injustices which were rife at this time, Lucia's War is another thought provoking novel from this talented writer.

Susan Lanigan graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a degree in English and History in the late 90s, then pursued a Graduate Diploma in I.T. in Dublin City University and a Masters in Writing in NUI Galway.

Her first novel White Feathers, a tale of passion, betrayal and war, was selected as one of the final ten in the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair, 2013, and published in 2014 by Brandon Books. The book won critical acclaim and was shortlisted for the UK Romantic Novel of the Year Award in 2015.

Her second novel, Lucia’s War, also concerning WWI as well as race, music and motherhood, was published in June 2020 and has been named as the Coffee Pot Book Club Honourable Mention in the Modern Historical Book of the Year Award.

Twitter @susanl_lanigan #LuciasWar

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