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Summary

Brought to you by Penguin. 

Nobody knows yet that she is a murderer....

Abandoned at the gates of a London park one winter's night in 1850, baby Lily Mortimer is saved by a young police constable and taken to the London Foundling Hospital. Lily is fostered by an affectionate farming family in rural Suffolk, enjoying a brief childhood idyll before she is returned to the hospital, where she is punished for her rebellious spirit. Released into the harsh world of Victorian London, Lily becomes a favoured employee at Belle Prettywood's Wig Emporium, but all the while she is hiding a dreadful secret....

Across the years, policeman Sam Trench keeps watch over the young woman he once saved. When Sam meets Lily again, there is an instant attraction between them, and Lily is convinced that Sam holds the key to her happiness - but might he also be the one to uncover her crime and so condemn her to death?

©2021 Rose Tremain (P)2021 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about Lily

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Lily –Read it and Tussle

I was anxious to read and listen to this novel after some disappointment with ‘Islands of Mercy’. Rose Tremain is a quality author and can always be relied upon for a narrative that holds the attention and engages. ‘Lily’ was a compelling though saddening read quite often, yet the force of Lily’s spirit redeemed it. What was it all about? I kept questioning. Is it just a Victorian melodrama with grim colourings? Life surrendered, cut short, life under continual threat, life that will surrender to an imposed death? I reached the final page and flew across to the single acknowledgement in the centre of the page and fell in to the biographical phallacy that this work of art reflects in some way the life/condition of the author. Whether right or wrong it is the only way I can make sense of this book. The performance by Hattie Morahan is of top quality. She can narrate as if an innocent as well as worldly wise. She deserves more A-List novels to perform.

3 people found this helpful

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Compelling

Beautifully read and I am interested in the history of Coram. The Suffolk accent is excellent.

3 people found this helpful

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Grim!

I almost gave up on this book after just the first hour, the narration was so boring, but don’t like to quit so soon so I persevered. I did become hooked; the narration improved enormously and the story was gripping but, my goodness, it was a grim listen. Unrelenting misery from start to finish. Even the “happy ending” wasn’t really. A good story but can’t say I actually enjoyed it.

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Fatally flawed for me

Oh what a disappointment! I'm a great admirer of Rose Tremain's work but this for me had such a fatal flaw that it spoiled it for me.
It's beautifully written, beautifully read with some wonderfully moving scenes and excellent detail and evocative language. My disappointment lies in her choice of Coram Hospital, a real, historically chartered children's hospital.

Tremain has chosen to place Lily in a real, fully documented place but then used fictional license presented as historical reality. If Tremain had chosen to place Lily in a foundling hospital in London without naming it as a real place, it would not have disappointed me as it has. I do not believe that the particular abuse which Lily suffered (described in subtle but totally explicit detail) did take place in a Coram Hospital, but if it did there is absolutely no way that such abuse would have become known to the authorities because Lily would never have spoken or been listened to if she had, We would never have known. It is therefore fiction but, because of the Coram name, it is presented as fact. It just made me think "I don't believe this!" whereas if it had been presented in a fictional children's hospital I would have accepted it as a work of fiction.
I found the abuse, the core of the book, to be misjudged.



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Uh?

I wasn't watching how long was left of the Audible recording, so the ending was a surprise. Had I been reading the book, I would have seen it coming. But I didn't. And I didn't guess how it would end, because I couldn't have. It just stopped. The book was well written, but gloomy, and the ending was very unsatisfactory. I feel there were numerous ways the story could have ended and had it ended well, despite the gloominess, I might have given it four, or even five stars. As it was, it ended, and I said, to no one in particular, 'Uh?' I feel deprived. Did Audible forget to record a second part?
As I think about it, I can understand the ending. But I still want to ask why? Why end it like that? If it had to be such a gloomy story, couldn't it have had a more satisfying ending?

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Outstanding performance. A Tale that resonates.

Well thought through plot and storyline. Deep and Realistic Characters. Gripping and extremely emotional, had me weeping and proclaiming I couldn't listen anymore, but I couldn't stop listening till the end.

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Utterly entrancing

Loved every minute of it Deeply moving and full of sorrow but such strength and such beauty on the friendships and love Beautiflly read Highly recommended

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Loved every sentence.

Really enjoyed this book and it was beautifully narrated. Bit of a tear- jerker towards the end but such a truthful insight into life of a foundling in nineteenth century.

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Beautiful deep sad.

Beautifully written and narrated. I love Rose Tremain. Her writing is full of small profound observations that move and remain with you.

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Another great book by Rose Tremain

The characters, especially Lily of course, are so real - no heros, no villains, just very believable individuals struggling to cope with the hands that life has dealt them. There are several points when the story could have taken different directions but the one Tremain chooses is always true to the characters it involves. No pat answers here! Hattie Morahan was an excellent reader, never over dramatising, always true to the spirit of the story.