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Saturday 12 January 2013

Lily Of The Springs by Carole Bellacera


I did enjoy this. I didn’t read the synopsis before embarking on it…or if I did, I didn’t remember it, so I didn’t know what to expect, and it was a wonderful surprise. 

This book starts off in the early ‘50s, with 18-year-old Lily Rae Foster about to go off to college. Her strict upbringing has enforced a ‘conservative’ approach to relationships with boys, and she dumps her high-school boyfriend when he tries to ‘go too far’. However, she wastes little time before finding herself pregnant to handsome, but rough-around-the-edges childhood friend, Jake. Forced into an early marriage, two people find themselves together but alone. Jake is the son of a mother, disenchanted with her marriage, and a violent father. The apple does not fall far from the tree. Lily loves her dysfunctional, husband deeply, but she has to fight for her independence, sometimes her safety, and does her best to do right by herself and her children. 

Carole manages to make you hang on to every word; and what lovely words…the Kentucky-flavoured turn of phrase is delightful, especially to this Brit’s ‘ears’, and brought a smile to my face. But, what really keeps you glued to the pages—or rather ‘who’—is Lily and in some respects, Jake. Lily is loving and forgiving, but she nevertheless stands her ground; although her college education was cut short, her intelligence, determination, and sheer gutsiness sees her through disappointment and humiliation. Jake is a drunk who thinks the world owes him a wife who should do nothing but please her man in every respect. But, like Lily, the reader can see a glimmer, albeit a faint glimmer, of a man who probably does love Lily and hates himself for his treatment of her. Whether or not she can change him remains to be seen.

If I had to pick one thing I didn’t like, it would only be the recipes and photographs between certain chapters. The recipes belonged at the end, if they had to be there at all, and the colour photographs (lost on a black-and-white Kindle) were distracting. If they were meant to depict the characters, they had more of a tendency to destroy my own images of them. I would have preferred them not to be there. 

This is a lovely story, spanning 25 years with a spunky heroine and nostalgic references to the ‘50s and ‘60s and an 'I wonder if' ending.  Terrific.

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