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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Book Review: The Last Telegram by Liz Trenow

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Title: The Last Telegram
Author: Liz Trenow
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publishing Date: April 2013
Length: 416 pages
Editions: print, ecopy
Source: Publisher via Netgalley in exchange for a review

Decades ago, as Nazi planes dominated the sky, Lily Verner made a terrible choice. She's tried to forget, but now an unexpected event pulls her back to the 1940s British countryside. She finds herself remembering the brilliant colors of the silk she helped to weave at her family's mill, the relentless pressure of the worsening war, and the kind of heartbreaking loss that stops time.
In this evocative novel of love and consequences, Lily finally confronts the disastrous decision that has haunted her all these years. The Last Telegram uncovers the surprising truth about how the stories we weave about our lives are threaded with truth, guilt, and forgiveness.

This is one of the best  books that I've read most recently. I know, I say that a lot. In my defense, before requesting anything at Netgalley, I read that blurb carefully and make sure it IS something that appeals to me. Life is too short to read books you do not like! This is why I now embrace the DNF (did not finish), whereas this time last year, I'd trudge through the book anyway.

Uh, back to the review. The Last Telegram is heart-warming, touching, education, tender, and wise. This is one of those books that I hope many readers will get a hold of and really READ it if they want a good, romantic, and cherish-able story.

It is about this young woman, Lily, and the events she experiences and the unexpected challenges she overcomes as she blossoms into womanhood.

Like many at the beginning of adulthood/ending of childhood, Lily had not a clue as to what she desired out of life. All she focused on was her desire to move out of the house and away from her parents to a life of travel and leisure. Lily was entirely unprepared for the unexpected events that she comes to face. Oh, but how she faced them!

Mainly, the unexpected challenges arise from World War II. Suddenly faced with having to learn the family business, the silk fabric manufacturing processes which was one of the most important part in the military forces well-being in a number of areas. Rather than to cringe and run from it all, she accepts, albeit reluctantly at the start, and gets deeply absorbed into the processes while thinking of it as a minor detour on her way to becoming a worldly traveler.

In the process, Lily meets the man of her heart and dreams and falls deeply, infinitely in love. In loving this boy/man, she awakens to the hate and prejudices against a race of people not only in her own country but abroad in Germany. The hate and prejudices are so much so that an entire nation rallies to exterminate the entire race of people from their nation. She cannot fathom this hatred based only on the difference in religion, little differences in the way that these people choose to worship the same God as their own. Lily also learns another kind of prejudice: against those who love the same sex. She learns that they are no different than her, that love is love, and love has no boundaries. The human heart chooses to love who it loves and there is no line that cuts it off. Lily learns that love transcends above all the pettiness, the race, the religion, the sex, everything as the heart does not discriminate.

In a period where women weren't widely in the business industries, especially male-dominated areas such as management and manufacturing, Lily comes to achieve and exceed all expectations. This in part is thanks to Gwen, the lesbian artist and the silk plant's production/operation manager. Gwen is one of the strongest characters in Lily's life, helping her to grow and mature into the woman she later becomes.

The Last Telegram is a fantastic read, one that I'd like to possess in the physical form for my library collection. (My review copy is electronic from Netgalley). This is one of those books that is a re-readable, one that I would withdraw from the shelves repeatedly for myself, my future daughter, my future granddaughters, etc. to read and discuss with them. It is a moving and emotional book, but there is also much to learn from it such as the silk and the time period of World War II. 5 stars, hands down.

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