Review By Veronica

The Lost English Girl is an emotional historical story that you will remember for quite some time.

Favourite Quote:

She stiffened at the implication that the power of a mother’s love might fail but God’s love never would. Hadn’t she already shown that she would do anything for Maggie Standing on those steps of St. George’s Hall, watching her new husband walk away from her, she’d made the choice, putting herself into her parents’ hands so that she and her unborn child could have a roof over their heads and money for food. All through her pregnancy, Viv had endured Mum’s snipes and jabs. When Maggie was colicky, she alone had soothed her daughter because her mother refused to help. When Maggie grew into a vibrant little girl, Viv had tried to fill her daughter’s life with all the love her grandparents didn’t show her. 

Goodreads Synopsis: 

Liverpool, 1935: Raised in a strict Catholic family, Viv Byrne knows what’s expected of her: marry a Catholic man from her working-class neighborhood and have his children. However, when she finds herself pregnant after a fling with Joshua Levinson, a Jewish man with dreams of becoming a famous Jazz musician, Viv knows that a swift wedding is the only answer. Her only solace is that marrying Joshua will mean escaping her strict mother’s scrutiny. But when Joshua makes a life-changing choice on their wedding day, Viv is forced once again into the arms of her disapproving family.

Five years later and on the eve of World War II, Viv is faced with the impossible choice to evacuate her young daughter, Maggie, to the countryside estate of the affluent Thompson family. In New York City, Joshua gives up his failing musical career to serve in the Royal Air Force, fight for his country, and try to piece together his feelings about the family, wife, and daughter he left behind at nineteen. However, tragedy strikes when Viv learns that the countryside safe haven she sent her daughter to wasn’t immune from the horrors of war. It is only years later, with Joshua’s help, that Viv learns the secrets of their shared past and what it will take to put a family back together again.

There is just something so beautiful about Julia’s writing. She really knows how to write a story that tugs at those heartstrings and has you feeling those big emotions. This is one of those reviews I am having a hard time writing because I want to make sure I do this book justice. I really want to say this book is amazing, and you just need to go out and buy it. Julia is a masterful storyteller and brings her readers unique and fascinating stories. The Lost English Girl touches upon a wonderful variety of topics and issues, such as family, motherhood, religion, loss, and second chances. Everything in this story is so well thought out and researched. Even though Viv and Maggie’s story is a work of fiction, it felt real to me. I am sure that what they experienced during the war was something that many parents and their children went through while being separated from one another during the war. 

This story is told from Viv, Joshua, and Maggie’s POVs. These three characters are very different, as are their experiences during the war. There is something so real and raw about their characters. All three of these characters are well thought out and stick with you in different ways. Viv struggles to get out from underneath her parents’ control and how hard it is to be separated from her daughter. She spends most of the war trying to find a way to be free from her parents and trying to stay in contact with Maggie, who is always on her mind. Joshua comes back home out of a sense of duty to protect his country and family. Joshua’s thoughts often focus on his decision to leave a pregnant Viv. He struggles with the fallout of that decision and how it affects his relationship with his family. And then we have Maggie, who lives in the country with a family she doesn’t know. I loved spending time with Maggie. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming watching this little girl try to make sense of everything that was going on around her. 

The Lost English Girl is a riveting and emotional story and a perfect read for fans of historical fiction. 

Thank you, Simon and Schuster Canada for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.