‘A story of motherhood, music, loss and redemption, set in the latter part of WWI and post-Armistice.’
– Lucia’s War
[ About the Book ]
London, 1949. Opera singer Lucia Percival is due to perform her last concert. But she has no intention of going onstage. A terrible secret from the First World War has finally caught up with her.
London, 1917. Lucia, a young Jamaican exile, hopes to make it as a musician. But her past haunts her, and when she meets Lilian, an old woman damaged by war, she agrees to a pact that could destroy everything she has fought so hard for.
From the Western Front and Glasgow, to black society in London, Lucia’s story tells a tale of music, motherhood, loss and redemption.
[ My Review ]
Lucia’s War is the latest novel from Irish writer, Susan Lanigan. It will be published June 5th 2020 and is described as a ‘novel telling a compelling story of music, motherhood, race and war’ Lucia’s War follows on from Susan Lanigan’s novel, White Feathers, which was released in 2014.
“It was always my desire to continue on with Lucia’s story where it began in White Feathers, and while Lucia’s War is in the same universe, with a few characters reappearing, her tale is separate and complete in itself – and one that I feel should be told in its own right. Among other themes, it explores how the propaganda machine weaponised motherhood during that war, and how black intellectual life flourished in London in the late teens and early postwar years. Not to mention fending off advances from W.B. Yeats and Bertrand Russell…”
Lucia Percival is a woman of strength and courage but there is a shadow of sadness that follows in her wake. After many dark years, Lucia became the singer she always wanted to be, gracing the stage performing the arias she always dreamed of.
‘Did you know I once sang Wagner to a roomful of Nazis?….They didn’t see me, nor I them, so they never knew I was not the Aryan goddess they hoped I would be….’
But Lucia has a secret, one that takes up a permanent place in her heart, one that she has kept secret for years. In conversation with a music critic, Lucia makes a decision to tell her story and we journey back to 1917, when Lucia, a young woman, an immigrant from Jamaica, arrives to the UK with dreams of one day being a famous singer. Born in Mandeville, Manchester Parish in Jamaica in 1893, it was evident from an early age that Lucia had a special voice, one that would take her away from her life into another world.
Lucia moved to London with a dream in her heart but with the war raging on, she offered her services to assist the medics on the front-line. The trauma of that time remained with Lucia. The scenes she witnessed marked her and events surrounding those months were to affect her life forever.
‘Killed in Passchendaele…or was it Ypres? Three years in, it was hard to keep track. At the beginning of the war we had regarded the long death columns in the Times with horror and awe. Now? We used the pages to wrap fish.’
Returning to the UK from France was to present Lucia with some very distressing challenges and she faced some very dark months, but a voice like hers was always going to be heard and it wasn’t long before opportunity knocked. Lucia was given the chance to perfect her vocals under the tutelage of a famed singing teacher. The pain within was to enhance Lucia’s voice and her progress was evident to others, but Lucia needed closure on another part of her life before she could ever truly start over again.
Lucia Percival is a woman with strength and courage, a woman proud of her origins, even when society tried to tell her differently. Surrounded by prejudice due to her skin colour and her accent, Lucia faced all the racial discrimination with fierce determination and tenacity.
Susan Lanigan explores many themes handling them all very sensitively and with a very insightful approach. The research is very evident on turning the pages. With very authentic accounts of life in the trenches, Susan Lanigan depicts the horrors of that time to great visual effect. The anguish and the pain is evident from every word, every description. Also explored is the intellectual scene among the black community in London at the time which was really fascinating to read about.
While Lucia’s War is most definitely the story of one woman’s life, it is also a historical snapshot of a time when the world was in turmoil. Lucia Percival’s story is heartbreaking, her life one of sorrow and hardship. Faced with insurmountable obstacles, Lucia’s pure drive and determination brought her through very challenging years. Throughout Lucia’s War there are characters and references relating to White Feathers (Susan Lanigan’s previous novel). I did get a little confused on occasion, not having read it, but it did not take from my overall appreciation of the novel.
Lucia’s War is an affecting and evocative tale. Clearly Susan Lanigan is very passionate in her writing and it really shines through when reading this very emotive story. It is a study of social history and a fascinating account of the unwavering determination of one woman to fulfill her dreams against all the odds.
Lucia’s War is a very profound, intense and engrossing read, one that will appeal to all with an interest in history, in particular the social and cultural history of those fraught years of the early twentieth century.
“I, Lucia Percival, have committed a great crime. I have seen the worst of war. I have loved and lost. I have sung, yes, but that was not all I did”
[ Bio ]
“I graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a degree in English and History in the late 90s, then pursued a Graduate Diploma in I.T. in Dublin City University and a Masters in Writing in NUI Galway.
My first novel White Feathers, a tale of passion, betrayal and war, was selected as one of the final ten in the Irish Writers Centre Novel Fair, 2013, and published in 2014 by Brandon Books. In spite of considerable adversity in my native country, the book won critical acclaim and was shortlisted for the UK Romantic Novel of the Year Award in 2015.
My second novel, Lucia’s War, will be released June 5th”
Source – https://susanlanigan.com/
Twitter ~ @susanl_author