Lucia's War by Susan Lanigan
I was thrilled to be asked to review Susan Lanigan's second novel. I adored White Feathers and Lucia's War serves as both a companion to the earlier book and a sequel of sorts. The focus of the book is on Lucia Percival a young Jamaican woman who appeared in White Feathers as a friend of the main character Eva and supported her in a time of crisis. In Lucia's War the friends are also roomates in London and scratching out a living as the war continues. Lucia has been a nurse; firstly with the VAD and then again at an abortion clinic. However a young black woman in London in 1917 doesn't have an easy time. With constant racial abuse and the threat of sexual assault Lucia finds work were she can though she longs to sing. She practices in the shed as singing in her and Eva's rooms will be shouted down. To find work as a singer is one of Lucia's dearest wishes. The other is to be reunited with her son. It is clear from the outset that Eva does not think it wise for her friend to obsess over the child. Eva is at times lost in her own grief and Lucia must manage without her for much of the book. This book is a truly stunning piece of storytelling. It explores war, grief, motherhood and the pain of forced adoption, as well as the institutional racism in society and the casual racism that Lucia faces daily. I loved seeing Britain during the Great War through Lucia's eyes. The author has clearly done her research and the storytelling is all the more powerful for it. Set within the framework of an interview with Lucia in later life, as a successful soprano, the plotting is precise and clever, giving us glimpses into past and future. An absolute five star choice for readers of historical fiction which will appeal to fans of Bella Ellis's Bronte Mysteries, Hazel Gaynor or Sebastian Barry.