Monday, 10 May 2021

LILLIAN : 4-star review on Amazon!

4.0 out of 5 stars An elegantly-written guide to Italy and the past

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 6 May 2021

There’s a long and honourable tradition in literature of chilly Englishwomen finding themselves abroad and this is in many ways a fine addition to that canon. It’s very well-written, perfectly paced and finely plotted. It takes the reader through what in other hands would be a series of melodramatic events with a restraint and an elegance reflective of the main character herself.

David Gee says in his afterword that he began writing the novel in the 1970s, and it has clearly benefited from its long gestation. The characters and their attitudes are convincingly of their time and remind us that the 1960s were not just the Swinging Sixties but a period in which many adults had been shaped by living through the Depression and two world wars.

Gee does a good job of depicting his main characters’ disapproval of homosexuality without endorsing it, as he does with similar lightness of touch when it comes to other characters’ approval of violence and murder. It is unfortunate though that the resolutions of some of the characters’ stories could be seen as confirming some of the prejudices depicted in the novel.

Despite its twentieth-century setting, Lillian and the Italians is essentially a historical novel, at its best when reflecting on the workings of a society that is not our own. Gee shows himself a sure guide here to both Italy and the past.

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