by Rachel Rhys (Doubleday) ISBN: 978-0857524706
In 2015 Rachel Rhys discovered a memoir written by a late friend of her mother’s on a bookshelf. The memoir gives an account of a journey the woman took on a ship from England to Australia as part of an assisted passage scheme between the first and second World War. From this memoir, Rhys created an historical crime novel.
On-board the Orontes to Australia Lily Shepherd meets people she would never have befriended on land.
Thrown together in close quarters with wealthy Max and Eliza who are fleeing a scandal, Helena and Edward, who are definitely hiding something, and Maria, an Austrian-Jewish refugee who can’t stop looking over her shoulder, the weeks on-board become a journey that define Lily’s life and the lives of those she encounters for many years to come.
The book is intriguing and the setting for the story is appealing but there is a lack of significant depth. Though Lily is a character that aroused my empathy she failed to provide enough gravity for me to really commit to the story. I was grateful for the soft twist at the end and the descriptive yet economical prose.
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