This is the fourth book in Judi Curtin’s deservedly popular Lily at Lissadell series. The stories are set in Sligo, in the early part of the last century. Lily works as a junior maid at Lissadell House, which was the real-life home of the Gore-Booth family and counts Maeve de Markievicz as a friend, as well as fellow maid Nellie and the other members of the household staff. Though she’s now very happily settled at Lissadell, it’s 1915 and even in quiet Sligo, change is coming. The war is turning things upside down, and, as her new friend Sam points out, women’s lives are set to change enormously. Lily is excited at the idea of a world in which girls like her can wear trousers, go to university, drive motor cars and vote but all of this is still some way off, and when Maeve recklessly takes Lily with her to Dublin to visit her mother, Lily’s dreams of becoming a teacher are suddenly under real threat.
The ferment of political change provides an exciting backdrop for the story, and the lives of Lily and her friends, servants and gentry, are vividly drawn, giving readers a complete sense of their different lives, as well as the different constraints they are under. Caring, capable and compassionate, Lily is trusted by her friends to make things right, and by readers too. At the book’s close, she’s achieved her ambition, and this could be the last in the series; whether it is or not, we feel sure that Lily’s life will bring her lots more adventures.
Author notes at the end give readers more information about the real life characters who feature and life in early 20th century Ireland.