The Linen Queen: A Novel by Patricia Falvey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Sheila is an Irish beauty wasting her talents in a sewing factory in a small village. She longs to leave the village and live in England where she dreams of better opportunities and marriageable men. Her big break comes when her village hosts a beauty contest and she is crowned the Linen Queen, bestowing two hundred pounds upon the winner. However, her mother wants her money to be handed over while the Great War begins. She discovers that her beauty and money will not be enough to get out of Ireland.
Sheila's mother is a definitive bipolar personality with borderline tendencies. She has no redeeming qualities. Sheila's father abandoned them because he couldn't stand his wife's one dimensional personality. This makes him as shallow as she is. Sheila's best friend is Gavin, a moody, brooding lad who believes home is where the heart is and his heart is in his little village. Oh, and he's pinned it on his sleeve, too. He pines for Sheila.
New war, new blood. American soldiers arrive and Sheila takes a fancy to one of them. For interest sake, he's Jewish. There's the love triangle. Through Sheila's journey, she develops a heart of her own and discovers she's not as shallow as she used to be.
The story is not a grabber. The characters are entertaining but are simple and stereotypical. The writing is descriptive and paints a detailed picture for the reader. The history and politics are accurately portrayed and provides the reader with a sensory experience. If you are an Irish history buff, this is an excellent read. For me, it was a solid history book with minor characters. Solid writing talent. Established author.