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.)
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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