Review: Liverpool Angels by Lyn Andrews (4/5)

Thursday, 17 July 2014
Born at the turn of the twentieth century, Mae Strickland is only a few days old when her mother suddenly dies. Her aunt Maggie brings Mae up together with her own children, Eddie and Alice, and the girls become like sisters. In spite of Mae's unhappy start, life feels full of promise.

Then, as the First World War looms, everything changes. While the local men - including young Eddie - leave to fight, Mae and Alice train as field nurses. As they travel to the front line in the wake of family tragedy, nothing can prepare them for the hardship that lies ahead.

Yet there is solace to be found amid the wreckage of the war, and for both, romance is on the horizon. But it will take great courage for Mae and Alice to follow their hearts. Can love win out in the end?

Despite not being the intended audience, I am a huge fan of family sagas set in Liverpool and London. Growing up I was fascinated with the war and evacuation, I loved Goodnight Mister Tom and whenever my teacher would ask us to write a piece of fiction I would nearly always write about the war. So discovering this genre of books was just perfect for me and I am a reader that doesn't need to justify why I read what I read, but one who wants to show that a book can be enjoyed by anybody despite its genre.

Lyn Andrews despite writing some 30+ books is a Liverpool author I've not read a lot of, so I didn't hesitate to request this book on bookbridgr. Most of the sagas I've read have been set during or after World War 2 whereas this one focuses on the time period before and during the Great War. Immediately after reading the first chapter I was at home in the book. Being from Liverpool myself I love being able to recognise place names, especially of places that are vastly different to how they were at the time this book is set. It's an era you can't imagine living in but still isn't all that long ago. We also read about the city celebrating its 700th anniversary which was a joy to read with the city having celebrated its 800th a few years ago.

Maggie promises to raise her brother's child when his wife dies in childbirth. Maggie's husband Billy isn't happy to say the least, he feels his marriage is under enough strain as it is and he is unhappy that Liverpool isn't the city of dreams he hoped it would be when he left Belfast. I didn't particularly like Billy at first. He wanted to go off drinking all day and return home to a hot meal, and wasn't happy when Maggie got pregnant again despite clearly being happy enough to have sex with her. I think it's typical of the era though and having said that my opinion did change over the course of the book despite some shocking behaviour from him.

We follow the story of the characters up until and during the war when Maggie's son Eddie goes off to fight and her daughter Alice and Mae go off to be field nurses. Often with sagas some of them are set primarily in the UK with brief mentions of the battle side of things but here we have scenes from the front line and scenes where Alice and Mae treat the soldiers before sending them home. Despite the obviously traumatic scenes, there is the underlying message of hope, camaraderie, friendships and relationships that are the kingpin of books like these. I love reading about communities and people pulling together in the face of war, and often wonder whether the people of today would cope or come together as well as the people did all those years ago.

Beautifully researched with a wonderful story we often read these books for the bittersweet endings, but that's not to say there isn't plenty of shocks and upsets along the way because there is. Overall though a story of hope and families and friends pulling together in a time we all hope we never have to experience.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi Shaun, thanks for sharing this :-)
    I also like to read family saga books and even though I'm kind of knocking on now, I read a lot of this genre in my early twenties. There are so many great authors out there who write in this genre who I feel don't or didn't get the recognition they deserve. Sadly some of the authors have now passed away. Have you read any of Joan Jonker's books? They too are set around Liverpool and I really enjoyed them.
    Happy reading Shaun! Take care X

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