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The Linen Queen: A Novel Paperback – February 15, 2012

78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Maintaining the Northern Ireland setting and nationalistic themes of her debut novel, The Yellow House, Falvey jumps from WWI to WWII. The full scope of the war unfolds through the eyes of Sheila McGee, a mill girl who's grown up with a mercurial mother and an absent father. Now 18, Sheila is the loveliest girl at the mill, a shoo-in to win the annual Linen Queen beauty pageant. She plans to use her winnings to leave her small town, and her mother, forever, but the outbreak of war complicates her plans, as do the two men she finds herself torn between: Joel Solomon, a melancholy Jewish-American army officer, and the moody and possessive Gavin O'Rourke, her best friend. Sheila's pendulum swing from a mildly unlikable self-centered girl with a "beauty is power" guiding philosophy into an idealistic young woman driven into action by the plight of child war evacuees is less than convincing, and extreme characterizations and lapses into melodrama reduce the impact of a novel that otherwise deftly rides the line between a fervently romantic love story and a heartfelt love letter to Northern Ireland. (Mar.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Abandoned by her father and neglected by her self-absorbed mother, Sheila McGee longs to escape from her small Irish village, where her destiny seems already to be written: forever consigned to working at the mill, forced to hand over her paycheck to her mother. When she gets the opportunity to compete for the title of 1941 Linen Queen, she finally sees a way out, for the prize money will fund her dream of escaping to England. But WWII intervenes, bringing with it travel restrictions and a base set up for American soldiers. She intends to snag American officer Joel Solomon, much to the distress of her childhood friend, Gavin O�Rourke. Joel turns out to be a Jewish soldier of conscience and schools her in the deeper meaning of the fight against Hitler. Falvey well captures the frustrations of a small-town girl with big ambitions, making rueful comedy out of Sheila�s rivalries with her fellow millworkers. She also smoothly traces Sheila�s transformation from self-interested party girl to concerned citizen. A lively read for fans of historical fiction. --Joanne Wilkinson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Center Street; Reprint edition (February 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1599951991
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599951997
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,209,551 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

For more information on myself and my books please visit me at, or

I was born and raised by my grandmother in Newry, Northern Ireland. At the age of eight I was brought to England to live with my parents. Never feeling a sense of belonging, I set off, as we Irish are wont to do through dint of our DNA, to find my fortune in the New World. I was twenty years old and had $200 in my pocket. I landed in New York, and made my way via Greyhound Bus to Omaha, Nebraska. After two years working for the Job Corps, I arrived in Boston hoping to complete my University education, I received a foreign student scholarship from Suffolk University where I enrolled as an English major. However, my limited financial resources being what they were, I succumbed to the pressure to switch my major to Business and thus occurred an abandonment of my dream of becoming a writer - an abandonment that was to last over30 years.
Although I progressed very successfully in my chosen profession, I went to writers' conferences, joined writing groups, and penned many drafts of stories short and long, but I never made a full-time commitment to my dream. Not until, that is, the voice in my head became so insistent I could no longer ignore it. Thus after years of struggle and doubt and yes...fear...I took the leap of faith, quit my profession, and devoted myself full time to finishing my first novel, "The Yellow House." I'm now delighted to announce that my second novel, The Linen Queen, will be available March 2, 2011.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Holly Weiss VINE VOICE on February 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover
"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.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Fiction fan from CT on February 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Patricia Falvey writes sweeping, evocative historical fiction, and I was first impressed with her writing with her debut, The Yellow House. Her latest novel, The Linen Queen, takes the reader on a journey of discovery with its heroine - Sheila McGee. One can't help but cheer for Sheila and the woman she ultimately becomes, and the backdrop of Northern Ireland during World War II is as atmospheric as it is accurate. Suffice it to say that I loved The Linen Queen, and am looking forward to Patricia Falvey's next work.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Fred mcgrath on February 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This story picks you up like a monster wave and carries you breathlessly through love,history and character development with never a pause or reason to look away.Keep it up Patricia-I love your stories and all I learn!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By T. Conner on May 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Shelia McGee-abandoned by her shallow father and neglected by her bipolar mother-knows there's life beyond her Northern Ireland mill village and dreams of fleeing to England. She enters and wins the 1941 Linen Queen beauty competition and all her hopes of escape rest on the prize money of £200. What she wasn't planning on, however, is the Belfast Blitz which brings the realities of WWII to her village.

Soon travel restrictions, along with her mother's fear of being left alone, put a halt to Shelia's plans. But when the American troops arrive, Shelia sees a way out. Despite objections from Gavin, a childhood friend who pines for our heroine, Shelia sets her eyes on a Jewish-American soldier named Joel Solomon. Trials follow and our heroine goes through a journey which proves to herself that she is strong and not near as self-centered as she thought herself to be.

Falvey is an outstanding and evocative storyteller; would recommend this to anyone who loves historical fiction. I even believe she's giving Maeve Binchy a run for her money for my favorite Irish author.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By MSEreads on August 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful story, set in an an unusual time and place, of a young girl's growth into a caring woman.

Sheila was Daddy's little girl but her father left when she was a child and never returned. Sheila and her self centered mother live in a basement room beneath her strict Aunt and drunken Uncle. Sheila's mother derides Sheila and uses guilt to take all of Sheila's earnings. Sheila even has to share her bed when her Aunt takes in a bitter and frightened waif. Sheila dreams of leaving her small town and now that she is 18 she has the chance to win the mill Linen Queen competition and make her escape.

Sheila's best friend is Gavin, her childhood playmate, who took over the cargo boat business after his father died. Sheila and Gavin have a favorite meeting place where they can look out across the water at the beautiful mountains and on a clear day they can see the lush green of the three surrounding counties. Sheila longs to go away on one of the ships while Gavin is always happy to return to port and home. They have been like brother and sister but it seems that moody 22 year old Gavin is developing a different interest in Sheila.

Sheila is depressed when she is not even chosen for the Linen Queen competition. Although she is really a good girl, her reputation is one of a flirt. She is independent and a bit brash, but never shabby. Surprise circumstances result in her winning the title and money but she doesn't get to go away because the war comes.

Many of the girls see the bright young American soldiers as a way to leave the drudgery of their lives. Sheila slowly develops a friendship with Jewish Captain, Joel Solomon.
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