Sunday, April 10, 2011

Linen Queen by Patricia Falvey

From Booklist Abandoned by her father and neglected by her self-absorbed mother, Sheila McGee longs to escape from her small Irish village, where her destiny seems already to be written: forever consigned to working at the mill, forced to hand over her paycheck to her mother. When she gets the opportunity to compete for the title of 1941 Linen Queen, she finally sees a way out, for the prize money will fund her dream of escaping to England. But WWII intervenes, bringing with it travel restrictions and a base set up for American soldiers. She intends to snag American officer Joel Solomon, much to the distress of her childhood friend, Gavin O�Rourke. Joel turns out to be a Jewish soldier of conscience and schools her in the deeper meaning of the fight against Hitler. Falvey well captures the frustrations of a small-town girl with big ambitions, making rueful comedy out of Sheila�s rivalries with her fellow millworkers. She also smoothly traces Sheila�s transformation from self-interested party girl to concerned citizen. A lively read for fans of historical fiction. --Joanne Wilkinson

My Thoughts:
In the beginning I thought this was another fluff chick book. Boy was I wrong. I absolutely enjoyed how Patricia Falvey took the main character, Sheila McGee from a self-absorbed teenager into a wonderful caring women. This is actually a love-story, with some historical fiction, and how priorities change. The story starts out in Northern Ireland, during the 1940's. Sheila, a spinner for a linen factory can only dream about the day when she can escape Northern Ireland and get out from under the linen factory and her dysfunctional family. She sets her sights on winning a beauty pageant. She knew that if she could win it would be her ticket out. Sheila does win, but her dreams of leaving Northern Ireland are put on hold due to the brewing war ahead. During the next 4 years the author developed Sheila into the most caring person. Aside from her shallow friends from the factory, Sheila takes Granine Mallory, an evacuee from Belfast, under her wing. When Sheila finds her friend Patsy pregnant and unmarried, it is Sheila who tries to help her. These feeling of protectiveness are strange to Sheila. The country of Ireland is now in the midst of war. Soldiers are stationed nearby. It is during this period when Sheila meets a Jewish-American soldier, Joel Solomon. Sheila's desire to leave Ireland is again heightened. She is going to use this man to get her to England. Sheila did not realize that after spending time with Joel, she would develope true feeling for him. Joel was probably the one person who made the biggest impact on Sheila. In the author's words (thru Rabbi Hurwitz)"Joes wanted you to know yourself, to see yourself as special, he was a messenger. He was never meant to stay in your world" There is also another man in Sheila's life. Gavin O'Rourke has been her childhood friend. Throught the story, Sheila is torn between her feelings for these two men. This was really the best part of the story for me. I loved how the author intertwined the lives of these 3 characters. I was really taken with the end of the novel, when Sheila realizes that the only thing she wanted to escape from was her situation and not actually the country. Patricia Falvey gave the ending real feeling. This is the first novel I have read by this author, but am anxious to read others. I am giving this novel a B+

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