I loved Patricia Falvey’s “The Yellow House” so I dowloaded a sample of “The Linen Queen” for my Kindle, guessing I would love it, and then got it from the library. “The Linen Queen” also takes place in Northern Ireland, but during WWII. It centers on Sheila McGee, a young Irish Catholic, as she struggles to break out of the life of poverty and boredom that she is living with her immature and pretty much useless mother, her overbearing aunt, and her lecherous uncle. Sheila dreams of getting away from the mill life and Ireland, and thinks she has found her ticket in a young Yank – Joel Solomon – who is stationed nearby and who begins seeing her. But will Sheila be able to break the ties that bind and start a new life?
I just loved reading this book. Sheila was an interesting character – one who kept me cheering for her and who changed considerably throughout the novel. Initially self-centered and selfish, Sheila learns that beauty is power as she is crowned the “linen queen” for the mills of Northern Ireland. She uses her position to the best of her ability in order to gain attention and attract men. Her relationship with Joel was intriguing and I wished I had the chance to discuss it – along with her other relationships – with a bookgroup — did she really love Joel or not? Were her feelings for Gavin (her childhood friend) keeping her from committing to Joel, or was it fate that intervened? And how does her relationship with the young refugee, Grainne, show how Sheila is changing?
A bit of fun in this book is that Eileen O’Neill, the protagonist of “The Yellow House”, makes a cameo.
I look forward to reading more by Patricia Falvey. She has a wonderful writing style and captures the essence of Ireland and Irish speech. 5 Stars!