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The Linen Queen by Patricia Falvey
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The Linen Queen (edition 2011)

by Patricia Falvey

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628191,731 (3.66)1
Member:jo-jo
Title:The Linen Queen
Authors:Patricia Falvey
Info:Doubleday (2011), Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:fiction

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The Linen Queen: A Novel by Patricia Falvey

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I have read many books about WWII but none that ever gave the Irish perspective. Sheila is awarded the title of Linen Queen and the prize money. This is her opportunity to flee her poor and miserable existence. But, Belfast is bombed and the American Soldiers come to her village.

It wasn’t the best book I ever read but it was interesting. One knows what to expect but is happy about reading on in spite of it. The story is fairly predictable but the writer has a way of engaging the reader.
( )
  FAR2MANYBOOKS | Apr 5, 2014 |
I agree with a prior poster that this book did drag a bit for me; Sheila is not an entirely likeable person, although I am not sure if she is meant to be. It is interesting to hear about the role of the Linen Queen itself, but aside from that, there is nothing really new here in terms of WWII historical fiction set in Ireland. There is also nothing new in terms of plotlines regarding helpless females relying on men and such. ( )
  amandacb | Aug 24, 2013 |
We are given young Sheila's story as World War II gets closer to her small village in Ireland. Sheila has big dreams of leaving her little town as soon as she gets enough funds together, but she doesn't expect the complications that will arise when she tries to leave now that the war is at her back door. I think I will start off by telling you that this book fell just a bit short for me.

Although Sheila finds it next to impossible to leave the village, once she wins the Linen Queen competition, certain things are a little easier for her and her family. She finds herself being invited to special events that many girls couldn't get past the front door. This allows her the opportunity to meet new people, including Joel, the young soldier from America who has taken a fancy towards her. As much as I wanted to like Sheila as the main character, I found she annoyed me half of the time. She did stand up for what she believed in and protected those that she loved, but her relationships with Gavin and Joel drove me nuts! I couldn't help but think, pick a man already!

Sheila did have a rough family life since her father left her and her mother behind. Her aunt and uncle were kind enough to take them in, and with the frustrations of the economy her mother was afraid to make any waves in the household in fear they would be on the streets. So often I couldn't help but think how mean and selfish her mother was, but when she needed help, Sheila was there to support her.

As much as I wanted to love this novel, I just found it dragging on and on for me. Until I reached at least the half-way point of the book, I just was never excited to get back to reading it. I also found some of the characters names confusing as a couple were quite similar. With themes of war, family, and love, you may find more enjoyment from this book than I did. Even though I didn't love it, I didn't hate it either. So I do recommend this book for those that love stories about Ireland and I also think it would make an interesting book club discussion. ( )
  jo-jo | Jan 14, 2013 |
It feels kind of strange, but this book reminded me quite a bit of two classics - Emma by Jane Austen and Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. So what do all these books have in common, you might ask? Well... I don't know about you, but Emma, Scarlett and Sheila are not very easy characters to like ... at first.

In The Linen Queen, Sheila struggles with some pretty hard knocks. Her dad is gone, her mom is crazy, her aunt super pious and her uncle a pervert. She works hard, yet sees no real benefit to all the work and she really, really wants to leave Ireland.

But Sheila is living and working toward leaving Ireland in 1941, and war is on the horizon. And, much like Scarlett in Gone with the Wind, war has a way of bringing out the grit in a pretty girl - and so it was with Sheila.

I really, really enjoyed The Linen Queen. I found Sheila to be petty and self-centered, but as I read, as I really thought about the choices she was making and watched her growth I came to love her and wish her well.

In addition to getting to know Sheila, I also got to know a part of WWII geography I really hadn't been familiar with. Belfast and the northern part of Ireland was involved in the war at a time the southern area was not. I think Patricia Falway did a fantastic job of capturing the tension not only between the two factions of the Irish people, but also by adding the "Yanks" into the mix, and even a Jewish one at that.

For WWII novel fans, this book is a must read. Just.. be patient, give Sheila a little time and remember, all those that are young need time to grow. ( )
  TheLostEntwife | Jun 28, 2011 |
This review is from: The Linen Queen: A Novel (Hardcover)
Before reading this book, you should be prepared to get swept away into the story. I didn't realize that this was going to happen before reading so I was totally unprepared for the majestic story that awaited me through these pages. You'll travel to Ireland and meet a young woman named Sheila who works in a factory right before the breakout of World War II. She wins a beauty competition and receives the title of The Linen Queen. This sets off several years of adventures in her life starting with her winning this title.

I started off the story not really like Sheila but as the book progressed I became more sympathetic towards her. Her life is rough and she's pretty much in a dead end situation. Sheila's relationship with her mother is severely dysfunctional and it's very sad that she has to put up with it the way she does. There are some women that are just not cut out to be mothers and hers is one of them. What makes it sad is that there are so many people today who have suffered because of relationships like this. Sheila is able to break out of this cycle and move on but sadly there are many others that cannot break away and disastrous results happen because of this. There were times when I wanted to slap that woman as well as her other relatives. What they did to the young girl who lived with them was disgusting and absolutely despicable.

The romantic relationships in her life are rather hopeful and sad at the same time. I really enjoyed reading about her relationship with the young American Joel as well as her long time friendship with Gavin. It's not really about picking sides but I enjoyed reading how different the two men are and what Sheila does for both of them.

I found the view of what was happening to the Jews to be very interesting. I never really thought about it much but it's brought up that most people did not know why exactly their country was fighting against Germany. When it's mentioned about what's going on with the Holocaust and what Hitler is doing, there are people that don't seem that concerned or figure that it's not their problem. It feels a little shocking to hear people talking so flippantly about the Holocaust but at the same time, they weren't getting the news like we do now so they really had very little info about what was happening.

While I really liked the story, there was one small detail that I did not enjoy. I usually have no problems reading profanity in books. While I don't like excessive swearing, I honestly don't pay much attention to it in books especially if it plays a part in the story. What I do draw the line at is seeing Jesus's name used in vain. Since I am a Christian, I just do not prefer seeing his name constantly being used as a swear word. This was used several times in the book and it was a bit jarring especially since the characters are supposed to be practicing Catholics. This might be my faith getting in the way of my objectiveness but I really found it distressing to keep seeing it used over and over again.

Other than this, I really did enjoy the story. I honestly felt like I was in 1940s Ireland during the war. Falvey really makes the scenery and characters come alive through her words. I haven't read her previous book, The Yellow House, yet but after finishing this one, I know I need to add it to my TBR pile. ( )
  mrsjason | Jun 1, 2011 |
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Abandoned by her father and neglected by her self-centered, unstable mother, Sheila McGee cannot wait to escape the drudgery of her mill village life in Northern Ireland. Her classic Irish beauty helps her win the 1941 Linen Queen competition, and the prize money that goes with it finally gives her the opportunity she's been dreaming of. But Sheila does not count on the impact of the Belfast blitz which brings World War II to her doorstep. Now even her good looks are useless in the face of travel restrictions. When American troops set up base in her village, some see them as occupiers but Sheila sees them as saviors--one of them may be her ticket out.… (more)

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