My enormous thanks to Lucy Chamberlain at Legend Press for inviting me to be part of the launch celebrations for Betsy and Lilibet by Sophie Duffy and for sending me a copy of the book in return for an honest review.
I have been privileged to feature Sophie Duffy here on Linda’s Book Bag before when The Generation Game was released and Sophie wrote a smashing guest post that you can read here.
Betsy and Lilibet was published by Legend Press on 4th October 2018 and is available for purchase here.
Betsy and Lilibet
London, 1926. Two baby girls are born just hours and miles apart. One you know as the Queen of England, but what of the other girl – the daughter of an undertaker named in her honour? Betsy Sunshine grows up surrounded by death in war-torn London, watching her community grieve for their loved ones whilst dealing with her own teenage troubles… namely her promiscuous sister Margie. As Betsy grows older we see the how the country changes through her eyes, and along the way we discover the birth of a secret that threatens to tear her family apart.
Sophie Duffy dazzles in her latest work of family/historical fiction. A tale which spans generations to explore the life and times of a family at the heart of their community, the story of a stoic young woman who shares a connection with her queenly counterpart in more ways than one…
My Review of Betsy and Lilibet
Born on the same day as the future Queen of England, Betsy Sunshine’s life will be equally as dramatic in its own way.
Betsy and Lilibet is a warm, affectionate and wonderfully written portrait of two interwoven lives and I loved it!
What is so wonderful about Betsy and Lilibet is Sophie Duffy’s brilliance in creating Betsy Sunshine’s persona. A modern philosopher, Betsy is, quite frankly, perfectly drawn. I could hear her first person voice so clearly because it has a direct approach to the reader and I fell in love with her immediately. I think she might be one of the most vivid individuals I have ever read about. She’s witty, sometimes spiteful with a wry, dark humour and frequently able to articulate what every one of us has thought at some point. By no means angelic, Betsy is capable of great love and enormous sins, so that I’d defy anyone reading Betsy and Lilibet not to be able to find something in her character to relate to. I was dazzled by her.
There’s a gorgeous symmetry in the quotations from Queen Elizabeth II and the more prosaic parallels in Betsy’s life so that one of the effects of reading Betsy and Lilibet was to give me a greater understanding of our recent social history and of our Queen as an individual. I can honestly say that this book gave me far more of a sense of belonging to, and affinity with, our culture than almost 60 years of living it has done. For that element alone Betsy and Lilibet deserves to be lauded and acclaimed.
The plot is a corker too. There’s several elements of mystery that are brilliantly satisfying – especially as they are the kinds of mysteries any of us might have in our lives, once again making for a sense of accord in the reading. The themes of love, honesty, war, loss, family and relationships are handled by Sophie Duffy with complete elegance.
Betsy and Lilibet is a jewel of a book. It is unique, sparkling with warmth and wit. I adored every word.
About Sophie Duffy
Sophie Duffy is the author of The Generation Game (2011), The Holey Life (2012) and Bright Stars (2015). Her work has won the Yeovil Literary Prize and the Luke Bitmead Bursary, and has been nominated for the Guardian Not the Booker and the Harry Bowling Prize. She is a writer and creative writing tutor and mentor for CreativeWritingMatters, as well as an administrator for the Exeter Novel Prize and other literary competitions
She lives by the seaside in Devon.
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