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The Lost English Girl

by Julia Kelly

The Lost English Girl by Julia Kelly X
The Lost English Girl by Julia Kelly
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  • Leah L. (Lawrence, NY)
    It's all about the choices we make
    I liked this book. It's well-written with decent character development. As a reader, I grew to care about the characters (and despise others). World War II books abound nowadays yet this offers a different perspective. The war is the setting for a complicated parent/child relationship and a more supportive one. The two protagonists -- Viv, who's been raised in a strict Catholic family and Joshua who's from a Jewish family, are living in Liverpool in the 1930s when they briefly meet and then Viv becomes pregnant. They have left the altar when Viv's stern mother offers Joshua a deal that he feels he cannot turn down. Each protagonist makes choice after choice with the information that each has at that given moment in their lives. While I have read volumes about the Kindertransport during World War II, this is the first time that I read anything about Operation Pied Piper. I would have welcomed more development on author Julia Kelly's part about the psychological and emotional traumas rendered by this part of history. Nonetheless, Kelly does an admirable job of bringing everything together at the end. This is not a happily-ever-after novel in the traditional sense. But it whets one's appetite to research and learn more about this part of history. Job well done, Julia Kelly.
  • Elizabeth L. (Langhorne, PA)
    Feeling a mother's pain
    The primary story of Viv, Joshua and Maggie is a sad tale but a realistic one where love triumphs in the end. I did not know that children were evacuated from Liverpool during WWII, and Viv's pain at leaving her daughter behind was palpable.The description of Catholic expectations and rules in the 40s, and the feelings toward Jews was spot on. The supporting characters (Viv's mother, Rebecca, Moss in particular) were so well drawn that their personalities came to life on the page. Transitioning between Joshua and Viv's viewpoint (and occasionally Maggie's) was very effective, as was the decision to tell the story in 5 year increments. I highly recommend this book if you like historical fiction and don't mind shedding a few tears.
  • Susan P. (Boston, MA)
    The Lost English Girl
    In Liverpool before WWII, Vivian, a Catholic young woman, becomes pregnant by Jewish musician Joshua (whom she likes very much but they've only known each other a short while). His parents are accepting. Her parents -- dominated by a cruel, unfeeling, controlling, and AWFUL mother -- are not happy. Once married, the musician accepts money to leave for good, for NYC to make his way. Devastated Vivian and her delightful daughter Maggie live with her parents -- wimpy dad and the horrible mother who only cares about the opinions of others. When war breaks out, Maggie (like many children in English cities then) is sent to live in the country. The couple caring for her love her but are far too possessive for Vivian. You cheer for Vivian who gets a job and finally moves out of her parents' home (yay!!). Then the countryside is being bombed, and the couple and Maggie are presumed dead. Joshua comes back to enlist in the RAF. Vivian is a postal carrier and serendipitously delivers mail to home of his parents & sister -- who are the most normal and loving people. They all believe Maggie is lost until a clue gives them hope. One of the many good outcomes: Vivian steels her heart against her heartless, mean parents. This is a fantastic read with interesting good and bad historical details about prejudice, home life, and military life then.
  • Jeanne F. (Stamford, CT)
    The Lost English Girl
    I just finished this book and I really did enjoy it. I always read books and ask the question- would this be good for my book club? I do think so as there are many societal issues that are embedded and could be fodder for discussions. I also felt the pace quickening as first Viv was feeling the lowest of lows and then to find out her worst fears had not come true. ( I'm trying here to not give spoilers-not easy to do! ) My one comment for the author would be about the title. Since many of the characters were "lost" I felt the title should be more broad. As it is now it might lead a reader to think that it is only about a little girl, when in fact it is so much more than that.
  • Millicent G. (Cypress, TX)
    Time Traveling with Julia Kelly Again...
    Once again Julia Kelly has taken us back to an important time in British history and made us feel as if we were really there. First, she quickly throws us into a pivotal traumatic event involving the main characters. Next, she slowly builds these characters and settings, detail by detail, until they become three dimensional for the reader. We get to know these people and we can clearly see their towns, cities, homes and workplaces. Finally, the author has us totally hooked to these people and their stories and we cannot stop reading until we know their future.

    This is not my first Julia Kelly historical fiction novel but it is my favorite so far. Her research is evident, her characters relatable, her storyline poignant and her ending realistic. Reading about the lives of ordinary people during extraordinary times in history inspires me. We were not taught in school about the lives of the women and children left at home during wartime. However, thanks to authors like Julia Kelly and Jennifer Ryan, these stories of the heroes at home have come to life for so many of us.
  • Linda Z. (Melville, NY)
    A Thought-Provoking and Memorable Novel
    Kudos to Julia Kelly, the author of "The Lost English Girl," for writing such a captivating and intriguing historical fiction novel. Julia Kelly is an amazing storyteller and vividly describes the characters, events, plot, and scenery. The timeline for this story takes place around World War Two. The author describes her dramatic and colorful characters as complex and complicated. It is easy to relate and sympathize with some of the characters. Some men seem very weak and fragile, and some women are brave and courageous. The themes that can be seen throughout the novel are forgiveness, second chances, betrayals, and self-growth. During this tragic time, the author discusses the importance of family, friends, neighbors, determination, courage, love, and hope. It is difficult to imagine the sacrifices that people had to make.

    Viv Byrne is a young Catholic woman in Liverpool, England. When she becomes pregnant by a Jewish saxophone player, Joshua" does the "right thing" and marries her. Her family wants to avoid disgrace, which seems the best solution. Josh is made an offer, decides he wants his freedom and goes to America. Viv has a beautiful daughter, Maggie, and stays with her dysfunctional parents. Viv can get a job delivering mail. She discovers that Joshua's family lives on her mail route. Viv hadn't seen them since the wedding, and they never knew if they had a granddaughter or grandson.

    Operation Pied Piper begins in England, where children are sent to the country to be safe from German bombing. Viv reluctantly sends Maggie to stay with a couple to be safe. Josh returns to England to serve his country. Not only does he have to fight for his country and life, but there is also antisemitism in his unit. Joshua is proven to be a hero. The Germans bombing England has caused much destruction in areas considered safe, and Viv has no idea where her daughter or the family she is with is.

    Julia Kelly has done a great amount of research into this difficult period. I would highly recommend this thought-provoking and memorable novel.
  • Chris (CA)
    Lost English Children
    This is a great addition to a World War II library. I had known about English children being evacuated to the countryside, but this book made me think more about the consequences of that action for all parties. I also hadn't thought about English Jews who were safe in America who chose to return to England to fight the Nazis. There is much to discuss about the "Christian" behavior of Catholics and Jews and forgiveness and love. The characters were well developed and I didn't want their stories to end. I enjoyed the alternating viewpoints/chapters and growing maturity of those two characters. I felt a little disappointed that I didn't get to learn more about their lives at the end. Without spoiling anything, I felt that details of the later years were omitted and it was a little rushed.

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