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Review – Lily Steps Up: A Lissadell Story by Judi Curtin

Review - Lily Steps Up by Judi Curtin

Sligo, 1914: Lily and her friend, Nellie work long days as housemaids for the Gore-Booth family at Lissadell. Even though they come from different backgrounds; Lily with her noisy, loving family in a close-knit village and Nellie from her harsh young life in the workhouse, the friendship and has grown strong as they share their new lives. And while they work hard, they always find time for fun, like madcap bicycle rides with Maeve, daughter of the famous Republican Countess Markievicz.

But Nellie still has no family. She has no idea what happened to her sisters once they parted. This casts a sadness over her; an empty place in her heart that Lily is determined to fill. And then, a small miracle occurs when Nellies’ sister Johanna is found and brought to the Big House to work alongside them. When a valuable locket disappears, Johanna gets the blame and may be sent away just after arriving. Lily longs to help, but it could mean she loses everything; her livelihood that helps support her own family, her hopes and dreams for the future; everything she’s working so hard for…

Strong and warm expressions of conscience and empathy set the tone in this beautifully penned novel for young people, taking the reader on a journey into Irelands’ past at a time of exciting, dramatic social change. The descriptions of time and place effortlessly paints a picture of the life they live with nuance and cleverness so that we feel we are there. There is a tangible sense of the growing bond between Lily and Nellie. Their dreams are now more easily shared; their willingness to see what each other has been through and how they have lived are more readily understood between them. It is that sense of friendship and family ties that lies at the core of the story, driving all the action, affecting each character and giving it its’ heart and humour. Told with a keen eye into history, it is fun, intrepid, moving, and an absolute joy to read. The perfect sequel to Lily at Lissadell, this book is an absolute gem.

Pick up your copy of Lily Steps Up from the LitVox Bookshop.

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