“The real prize was my discovery of the raw power of beauty.” So states Sheila McGee after being crowned The Linen Queen of a small Irish mill town in the shadow of World War II. Appropriately told in the first person from self-centered Sheila’s viewpoint, The Linen Queen takes us through the trials and tribulations of Sheila’s thwarted attempts to use her prize money to escape from Ireland in search of a grander lifestyle. Her inability to decide between two men, childhood friend, Gavin O’Rourke and dashing American officer, Joel Solomon, further complicates her situation. The lives of all the characters change when the German’s bomb Belfast and the Yanks arrive to provide protection. Ireland learns that England’s war with Hitler has become its own. A review requires little plot description because oddly, the book jacket description covers it all. Born and raised in Ireland, author, Patricia Falvey, put her dream of being a writer on the back burner when she pursued a successful business career. Because of persistent internal promptings she gave up her chosen profession to pursue writing. Her love of Ireland spills over the pages in The Linen Queen. Is Sheila a heroine, a protagonist, or simply the main female character with a propensity to annoy us? The author has a knack for creating strong-willed female characters that make a statement even though our sympathy toward them vacillates. Sheila begins to cultivate a conscience toward the end of the novel, but the reader is left to doubt that her transformation is genuine. Her protection of Grainne, a waif who lives under her roof, however, is both touching and believable. Well-drawn and realistic is the rivalry among the mill girls.The book clearly illustrates how the provincial social mores of the time discriminated against women. The gusto and rollicking momentum of Ms. Falvey’s first book, The Yellow House, are curiously absent from this second novel. The action in the plot wanes as the book progresses and the characters seem dispassionate and uninteresting. Patricia Falvey is clearly a talented author. The Linen Queen, however, pales in contrast to The Yellow House. Perhaps a deadline kept her from fulfilling her potential in this novel. Look for more from this author. I thank Center Street for this review copy. The opinions expressed in my review are unbiased and wholly my own.
Reviewed by Holly Weiss, author of Crestmont
Causes Holly Weiss Supports
Eradicate Polio Now