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Lila Cunningham, motherless since babyhood, was almost twenty-one when her familiar, boring life in a small town on the Suffolk coast came abruptly to an end. It was 1938, and after many years of struggling she learned with a shock that her endearing but feckless artist father faced financial disaster. With the loss of their home imminent, they had no option but to accept an offer of a house in Malta, and on that hot and exotic island, in the magnificent but crumbling Villa Zonda , Lila at last glimpsed a chance of a life she had always dreamed of. But war was looming, and Malta became the focus of Hitler's attention just as Lila became the focus of attention of three very different young men. As bombing devastated the island and Lila, along with the other inhabitants, learned to live with privation and fear, she also came slowly to realise the value of true love in all its forms, and the difference between hope and illusion. In this enchanting new novel Joanna Trollope, writing as Caroline Harvey, captures all the warmth and romance of Malta as well as its dramatic sufferings during the second world war.
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Promotional Information

This novel is by Joanna Trollope, writing as Caroline Harvey.

About the Author

Caroline Harvey is the pseudonym of Joanna Trollope, the highly acclaimed author of bestselling contemporary novels. The Choir, A Village Affair, A Passionate Man, The Rector's Wife, The Men and the Girls, A Spanish Lover, The Best of Friends, Next of Kin, Other People's Children, Marrying the Mistress, Girl from the South and Second Honeymoon are all published by Black Swan. She has also written a study of women in the British Empire, Britannia's Daughters. As Caroline Harvey she has written several historical novels including Legacy of Love, A Second Legacy, Parson Harding's Daughter, The Steps of the Sun, Leaves from the Valley, City of Gems and The Taverners' Place, which are all published by Corgi Books. Joanna Trollope was born in Gloucestershire, where she still lives. She was appointed OBE in the 1996 Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to literature.

Reviews

Turning away from contemporary fiction (Other People's Children), Trollope as Caroline Harvey introduces the first novel in her new historical series. During World War II, Lila Cunningham, a na‹ve young English heroine, comes to terms with the gap between the life she dreams of having and reality. The novel opens in 1938 as Lila faces financial ruin because of her father's recklessness. The Perriams, scholars who employ her but are more like grandparents to her, force Lila to accept a house, the beautiful but tattered Villa Zonda, on the island of Malta. When she and her father arrive, Lila is introduced to the class-based culture of the Maltese and falls in love with the wealthy and snobbish Ferroferrata brothers. The prospect of marriage helps Lila survive the war. As the Maltese discover their sense of nationality at the end of the war, Lila realizes that everything she wanted and loved is just an illusion. Trollope creates memorable characters while capturing the fear, suffering, and devastation of Nazi raids on Malta. Recommended for all public libraries. [For a different kind of novel set in Malta during World War II, see Nicholas Rinaldi's The Jukebox Queen of Malta (LJ 5/1/99).ÄEd.]ÄAmanda Fung, "Library Journal" Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

As readers might surmise, even when she writes under a pseudonym and chooses an exotic setting, Trollope is not one to succumb to the conventions of a standard romantic novel. In this first of her historical novels to be published here, Trollope/Harvey allows the complexities of human nature to influence a credibly bittersweet ending. In 1938, when 20-year-old Lila CunninghamÄfrustrated by her poverty-stricken life in a small English town near the North SeaÄlearns that her cheerfully feckless father has lost their house to the bank, she appeals for guidance to the elderly, childless Perriams, a couple who employ her as a research assistant. The Perriams seize upon a solution: Lila and her father will become caretakers of Villa Zonda, a house they own on Malta. After an arduous sea voyage, the Cunninghams discover that the dilapidated mansion is brimming over with a large, exuberant peasant family. Also to her surprise, Lila is pursued, quietly and steadily, by a young Maltese schoolmaster, Angelo Saliba. But Lila has eyes only for the two dashing nephews of snobbish Count Julius Tabia, though she knows that the titled family will never fully accept her as a wife for either of them. The advent of WWII forces Lila to move beyond dreams to action. Under the tutelage of Miss de Vere, a formidable presence in the English-speaking community, she works at a hospital caring for the wounded; at Villa Zonda, she scrapes together meals and grows ever closer to Carmela, the ambitious, English-speaking young daughter of the peasant family. But a part of Lila still clings to her romantic dreams, and only after a series of deaths and a postwar trip to a victorious Britain does she realize she is truly independentÄand, most surprising of all, content. Trollope's compelling and perfectly paced story is capped off with a satisfyingly realistic and ambiguous conclusion. (Sept.) FYI: This is the first of Trollope's Caroline Harvey novels, all previously published in the U.K., to be issued here. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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