Friday, June 8, 2012

Literary Friday: The Linen Queen

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Welcome to the very first Literary Friday linky party!  :D


{I cannot wait to see what you are reading *and* what you are planning to read this summer!}

This week I read The Linen Queen by Patricia Falvey.  I must say that I actually liked this book better than The Yellow House!  You can read last week's post about The Yellow House here.

Sheila McGee is beautiful, vapid, and determined to escape her life as a linen mill worker in Northern Ireland.   She lives a miserable existence with her crazy, unstable mother in her pious aunt and alcoholic uncle's home.  Sheila's father had abandoned her and her mother because he could no longer tolerate her mother's crazy mood swings.  When she is chosen as a contestant to represent her mill in the upcoming Linen Queen competition, she sees the two hundred pound prize as her ticket out.  Sheila wins the competition and is crowned Miss Linen Queen 1941.  Unfortunately, Europe's escalating war and the blitz on Belfast force Sheila to postponed her plans.

During the next four years, Sheila continues serving as Linen Queen because the competition has been suspended due to the war.  When the Americans arrive in their community, Sheila is asked to present a tablecloth and serviette gift from her mill to the American commanding officer.  Handsome Captain Joel Solomon notices her, and they begin dating.  Her best childhood friend Gavin O'Rourke does not approve of their relationship, nor does he approve of Sheila's plans for escaping Ireland.  Gavin also suspects that Sheila is using Joel as another means for escape.

Another complication arrives in the form of a thirteen year old orphan from Belfast named Grainne.  Grainne is billeted in Sheila's aunt and uncle's home, and Sheila quickly becomes attached to Grainne.  Sheila interrupts her Uncle Kevin's attempt at raping Grainne, but his and her Aunt Kate's lies about Grainne land her in the local convent.  Gavin saves the day through dangerous means: the IRA.  Gavin lives just across the border in neutral Ireland, and his connections to the IRA help rescue Grainne from a "fate worse than death."

Gavin's shady dealings with the IRA and Joel's role in planning a strategic offensive adds to the suspense of the story.  Patricia Falvey is such  fantastic writer, and I loved her attention to historical details.  For example, I had no idea that young women stained their legs with tea and drew lines resembling stocking seams as nylons became scare during the war.  I also appreciate how Falvey depicts the conflicting emotions the Northern Irish must have endured during the war as they fought alongside the allies against the Nazis while free Ireland remained neutral and ignored Hitler's atrocities.  After all, World War II started less than twenty years after Ireland's Civil War.

I must admit that I adore Sheila McGee.  Her transformation from selfish diva to compassionate woman is inspiring.  The ending is a bit ambiguous (my only complaint about the book) so I am hoping that maybe there will be a sequel because I want more of her story!  


Summer Reading 2012

Each week I read at least one book.  We have eleven weeks left before our youngest starts high school, and I want to share the three literary selections I have chosen for my summer reading list.  Some of the other books I choose will be a little lighter, more like beach reading.

Here are my three literary selections:


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De Rosnay wrote Sarah's Key.  I hope this one is as good!



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I cannot wait to read the sequel to A Discover of Witches.  This book goes back in time to Elizabethan England, and I have heard that Christopher Marlowe is a main character!



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No one writes as well as Frank Delaney.  Period.  This is the last of a trilogy.


What are you reading this summer?  Link up and share!!!
Feel free to grab my Literary Friday button from my sidebar.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill

10 comments:

  1. Hi darling, what interesting choices, I've put them on my list of reads for the summer. I spend a lot of time on the front porch in the evenings, book in hand and the dog at my feet letting a book take me away to another place. hugs ~lynne~

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  2. OH I am going to have to read discover the Witches it looks fabulous and so does it's sequil. I am so glad that you have started up a reading/book link party again. I really have missed it. I always come and see what you are reading. Hopefully I can keep up and read a book a week but if not I will take part as often as possible. Have a great weekend.
    Caro

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  3. I think I'm going to have to add your first selection to my list for my summer, The House I loved. My next summer read is going to be That Summer in Sicily, by Marlena De Blasi. A love story.
    Thanks for sharing your list. Congratulations on your link party.

    ~Emily
    The French Hutch

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  4. Went to Barnes & Noble yesterday and did not get one book or magazine. I was being very cheap. I need to go back and get a book for our vacation or spend some time alone at the library. Usually I am with Q in the kid section when we go to the library.

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  5. The Linen Queen sounds fabulous!
    Right now I am reading The Last Embrace by Denise Hamilton. Great book set in Hollywood 1940's!
    Happy Reading Ricki!!
    Pamela xo

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  6. Okay linked up the last book I bought. Sad but I am here!!

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  7. Last week I read "When We Were Grown-Ups" by Anne Tyler. Loved it. My second Anne Tyler novel in recent months. Don't know why it took me so long to discover her.

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  8. Thanks for reminding me that I need to read some Frank Delaney. :D

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  9. I just finished Justice Wanted and started Dark Minds. Justice Wanted was really good and based on a true story

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  10. I love this party! I hope to join up next week. I will certainly give some of your selections a try. Have a great weekend!

    Big Hugs,
    Susan and Bentley

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