Note: The author kindly sent me a digital version of her book in exchange for my honest review. A huge thanks to the author for letting me be a part of it.
Name: Lucia’s War
Author: Susan Lanigan
Genre: Historical Fiction
Book in One Sentence
Lucia’s War by Susan Lanigan is a tale of existence and survival during World War I – a time when countries all over the world were torn apart by war and violence.
Before I review this book, I have a confession – this is my first time reading historical fiction for leisure. Therefore, I do not have a yardstick to measure it. That being said, the book received a positive response from me and has set the bar high for following stories of similar genres. Here are the reasons why…
Lucia’s War is a story of a Jamaican woman who left her home country and came to England during World War I. Lucia had to endure a lot while navigating her life in war-stricken Britain. Clearly, it was not made easier for her due to her race and gender. The tale follows her experiences and story as she narrates it to a music critic, years after becoming a legendary opera singer.
The story progresses with two time periods – the 1910s and the 1950s. The novel starts in 1950 London, where Lucia, now a famous musician, gets interviewed by a music critic and begins telling her life story – everything that got her where she is at the point in time. At the beginning of the story, the changes in time periods were confusing to me. However, with time, it became easier for me. The time jumps, however, form an excellent way to keep us aware of the storyline.
Lucia’s War covers a lot of topics that are relevant even to this day – such as patriarchy, racism, child abuse, forced adoption, sexuality, illegal abortion, and forced marriage. The author does a fine job of intertwining them altogether to produce a tale of motherhood and ambition. A lot of Lucia’s misery stemmed from the oppression she experienced due to her race and gender. Apart from that, there are secondary characters that are also victims of patriarchy and race – irrespective of their gender and skin colour. With the current happenings worldwide, Lucia’s War is undoubtedly an echo from the part, even if the world has progressed a fair bit from the social evils like these.
The novel touches on the theme of motherhood a lot. The story highlights Lucia in two primary roles – mother and musician. Most of Lucia’s feelings and emotions in the story are governed by these two roles. The novel touches upon the lengths a mother would go for the safety of her child. Lucia’s experience of motherhood is complicated at best. Her turmoil and endeavours regarding this form the crux of the story.
At the beginning of the story, we meet the famous opera singer, Lucia Percival. Throughout the novel, be it in the past or the present timeline, we do not forget Lucia’s passion for singing. She is ambitious and determined to make it in the field of music. Her determination and perseverance lead her to her dream. But at what cost? What are the sacrifices that she made in order to fulfil her ambition? The story does an excellent job of covering that. Lucia Percival’s determination and her strong sense of independence are worthy of praise. Especially during a time when her race and gender acted as a hindrance due to other people’s ignorance. However, she was proud of her background and her talents. She was a strong and confident woman – qualities that led her to her famed destiny. She was a woman who knew what she wanted and did everything in her power to go for it.
Depiction of Realism
As mentioned earlier, the novel mentions many topics that are relevant even to this day and age. The notion of race is an inseparable part of the story and forms a major driving force in the novel. Apart from that, we see reflections of patriarchy, child abuse, forced adoption, sexuality, illegal abortion, and forced marriage. With every chapter, these issues are reflected and show how they determine and define the fates of the characters in the story. The incidents taking place in the novel still hold importance in today’s society with the recent happenings around the world.
The ending was totally unexpected for me. By the end of Part II, the story is in full force, and the climax was steadily approaching. The conclusion was surprising yet pleasant. I would not spoil it for future readers. However, after all the trials and tribulations that the protagonist went through, I am happy with how the story ended. It was a deserving end.
Lucia’s War is one of those books that deserves a lot of recognition. The story covered a lot of issues and themes in the novel. However, the author does an outstanding job of stringing them together into a single and coherent flow. I would definitely recommend people out there to check it out. You would not be disappointed! The book is one of my top reads this year, and I am happy to end the year on a good, bookish note.
“You see, that’s the difference between us,” I said gravely. “I can’t afford not to plan. Not when I’m trying to navigate through a world that’s not made for people like me.”Susan Lanigan, Lucia’s War (Chapter 13)
For more of my book reviews, click here.