Figs, Vines and Roses – by Joy M. Lilley
Joy M. Lilley’s first novel ‘Figs, Vines and Roses’ tells a moving tale of love and loss at the turn of the nineteenth century.
In 1888 eight-year-old Issy Merryweather has a comfortable family life in Cobnut Hall, Derby. Sharing carefree summers with her brother Clarence, beloved dog Molly and cherished grandma Ella, Issy enjoys the freedom of childhood innocence. But as she comes of age a move to Kent changes her life forever.
When Issy meets Terence she is enraptured by him and despite his humble background an inseparable bond is formed in secret. But, it’s a secret which Issy will never escape after a heartbreaking turn in events…
Genre: Love, Romance, Fiction, Family Saga
Cold Coffee 5 Star Review: Figs, Vines and Roses is a family saga giving insight between the upper and lower class in 1888. Author Joy M. Lilley does a good job describing life in various English towns as the reader gets to know the Merryweather family. I can relate to young Isabella “Issy” and her brother Clarence, since like them, I was sent to a boarding school. Their childhood was very comfortable, innocent and more privileged than most and with it came the best boarding school.
I invite you to join Isabella in her family life with dog Molly, brother Clarence, Grandmother Ella, her inevitable coming of age journey into young adulthood. Issy falls in love with Terence, who is the gardener. This is forbidden love since Terence is from the “wrong side of tracks”. What is the secret that Issy can’t escape?
Isabella love for beautiful gardens brings the reader here: “It did not take long before Isabella began exploring the grounds of the estate and could see the potential of the gardens that had suffered so much neglect for many years; apparently, she had discovered from one of the grounds men that the mid-Victorian landowners had built a brick farmhouse beyond the Castle building and at the same time took the estate in hand. There were remaining signs of this with shrubs and flowers in bloom, and interesting varieties of trees in abundance. Apparently prior to this the estate had lain in ruin since the Seven Years War (1756-63), when captured French seamen were incarcerated there.
Isabella spent much of her time in the garden as it was early spring and there had been yet another long, cold winter to overcome. This had taken its toll on the land, which now was in need of attention. Issy knew what was required to help the gardens come into bloom again. She had an enormous imagination and could foresee how the garden could look once again with the right care and attention. She day-dreamed of restoring the garden to its former natural beauty.”
Will she be able to turn her dreams into reality?
Author Joy M. Lilley did a good job holding my interest in this short read as the author leaves things open for a sequel. I give this book five stars for the story. I purchased this book from Kindle. This review was completed on August 26, 2018
The Liberty Bodice – by Joy M. Lilley
Gloria Harris is born in Market Harborough in the United Kingdom, in 1922. She spends the first few years of life living with her parents and grandfather. Her siblings, an older sister and twin brothers, also share the household. The relationship between Gloria and her mother is strained much of the time.
The early days of her life are spent in considerable poverty, so much so that Gloria and her sister are sent away to Northern Ireland to be with their aunt and uncle, who are more affluent than their parents, due to the improving circumstances for the farming community in Ireland. Her aunt and uncle have a smallholding and keep a few animals and poultry that provide them with eggs and milk: the land produces enough fresh vegetables for themselves and for sale at the local market. Gloria and her sister Ann are made to work hard during this time, helping out on the farm and with the household chores. Their aunt and uncle have no children and are not particularly kind to the girls. The sisters have to stay in Ireland much longer than they had been led to believe they would, and it is several years before they come home.
On their return to Market Harborough they discover that their brothers have both been in considerable trouble, one having made a girl pregnant and the other having stolen from his employer. Gloria realises that these circumstances were part of the reason why the girls had to stay away for so long.
At the age of sixteen Gloria is sent to France on a student exchange, where she stays in Nancy with the well-to-do family of Chantelle Valvoire, whom she befriends. Gloria has a penchant for languages and these talents are vastly enhanced during this period, when she speaks almost exclusively in French. She also loses her virginity to a dashing Frenchman and is terrified of pregnancy, but after she returns home, to her great relief, the putative pregnancy comes to an end. As a result of this experience she vows to have nothing more to do with men until she is older. This resolve soon weakens when she meets Geoffrey, a school teacher from London whom she encounters on the journey back from France. Once home, Gloria practices her love of languages in some form or another on most days, regularly enjoying conversing with her sister’s Dutch boyfriend, who helps and encourage her linguistic achievements. He teaches French and German at the school she attended.
The Second World War begins and Gloria does her bit for the war effort by working on the land after leaving school. But she is restless, anxious to play a much more active role in fighting for her country. After hearing an appeal from the Home Office for foreign language experts to work abroad, she finds out all she can about joining the Special Operations Executive (SOE). After some considerable time, she secures an interview to join what became known as ‘Churchill’s secret army: the S.O.E. Her family are horrified at what their youngest daughter is letting herself in for and try their best to dissuade her, unsuccessfully.
After going through the rigid and arduous training to become an S.O.E. officer, she is sent into occupied France, where she is involved in a number of successful missions. Eventually she is captured by the Gestapo and sent to Fresnes prison in Paris, then on to the notorious Dachau Concentration Camp. In both places she is treated appallingly, being starved and tortured, and to avoid the likelihood of her inevitable death, she hatches a plan of escape. After doing so she has many trials and tribulations, after which she finally meets the brave Résistance leader and accomplished navigator, Sabien. He acts as guide for Gloria and some other stragglers through war-torn France and helps them back to England. Her feelings for him gradually turn from hate to love and they marry on the journey home. Sabien is subsequently summoned to the Normandy beaches to do vital Resistance tasks, and they part company until sometime later, when all hell is let loose.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Times Pendulum Swings Again by Joy M. Lilley
Jenny is working as a nurse when she meets Seb.
She is young, living with her mother, and has had a strict religious upbringing.
Seb is a handsome, successful surgical registrar and Jenny is incapable of resisting his charms. They fall in love, buy a flat and move into together, much against Jenny’s mother’s wishes.
Then one day Seb confesses to Jenny that he is already married with two young boys.
Can a heartbroken Jenny pick up the pieces of her life?
Top Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars
Reads like a juicy memoir!
“This was an entertaining read that left me pondering the motivations and relationships between characters. Because it began with a few words from the present before diving into the story of the past, it was easy to form a quick dislike for the main male character early on, but his actions throughout just made me dislike him all the more. That being said, there were times when I felt for him, understanding the reasons behind some of his antics. I particularly enjoyed the realistic feel of the story. I actually looked the book back up on Amazon soon after starting it, to see if it was listed under the memoir category, as it felt quite autobiographical. The ending left me contemplating issues of trust. When is it appropriate to forgive and move on? What actions cannot be forgiven; where is the line? Can a second chance work out in the long run, or will it result in another exercise of frustration and heartache – i.e., are we better to forgive previous sins and move on or does a tiger truly never change his stripes? Interesting questions to ponder!”
By Deborah A. Bowman, author
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Delightful Love Story
“Star-crossed lovers from the beginning between cultures, racial differences, and a loveless arranged marriage that holds one man captive. The pendulum swings fore and aft for over a decade to bring them together, tear them apart, and perhaps give them a second chance. Ms Lilley writes beautifully with great feeling and depth of realistic emotions in turmoil. Such is life… A book that reads smoothly and strongly. You will envision relationships of your own, perchance. A novel and a love story you don’t want to miss!”
By Celia Criseo Jakimczuk
5.0 out of 5 starsFive Stars
“Simple and beautiful. I loved it.”
Spotlight Interview With Author Joy M. Lilley
Author Bio: Hello, My name is Joy Gerken, pen name Joy M. Lilley.
My first novel is ‘Figs, Vines and Roses’ a tale of love and loss at the turn of the nineteenth century.
My second novel is called ‘The Liberty Bodice’. This is a completely different genre to the first novel and follows the trials and tribulations of a young girl working for the Special Operations Executive [S.O.E.] in W.W.2.
You can also find my short story ‘Lost and Found’ published in Liphar short stories Vol 1. [Liphar short stories} by Liphar magazine.
In 2016 my novella ‘Times pendulum swings again’ was published. This tells of a hospital romance that starts well, until the truth about the surgical registrar admitting to his nurse girlfriend that he is married with two sons back home in Nepal.
I am hoping to release my forth publication ‘Strawberry moon’ a crime, mystery set in the Dordogne, France.
What makes you proud to be a writer? I am proud to write as it feeds my eternally active imagination.
What or who inspired you to become a writer? I joined a book reading club. This in turn encouraged my reading. Always wanting to write but having little opportunity previously because of an exhausting full-time job. Since retiring I now feel more fulfilled and happy.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published? Following retirement from a long nursing career, I wrote avidly thus resulting in three published novels.
What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing and publishing process? Having been traditionally published by two publishing houses.
How many published books do you have? Three.
Please list the titles of all your books: Figs, Vines and Roses, The Liberty Bodice and Times Pendulum Swings Again.
Please introduce your main genre and why you prefer to write in that genre? I don’t have a preference and the three stories written are all in a different genre.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing? Being a part of a large family with Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren. Travelling and being a voice over artist.
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors? Never, ever give up. Listen to wise advice on what works and what doesn’t work in producing the written word.
Who is your favorite author and why? Several, I enjoy everything I have read from Rose Tremain. She writes in the same fashion as I see the world. I admire the works of Patrick Gale. He writes exquisitely from the heart and the books I have read of his have inspired me and of course, the lengthy works of John Steinbeck. I could not put his Grapes of Wrath down.
Additional Questions or Information (Given by Author): I am a retire trained nurse, having worked for almost 50 years in the profession. I love the life I now have with time to read and write. I also spend a considerable amount of my time doing voice over works and have V. O’D a few children’s stories, some of which I have also written.