Abandoned by her father and neglected by her self-absorbed mother, Sheila McGee longs to escape from her small Irish village, where her destiny seems already to be written: forever consigned to working at the mill, forced to hand over her paycheck to her mother. When she gets the opportunity to compete for the title of 1941 Linen Queen, she finally sees a way out, for the prize money will fund her dream of escaping to England. But WWII intervenes, bringing with it travel restrictions and a base set up for American soldiers. She intends to snag American officer Joel Solomon, much to the distress of her childhood friend, Gavin O�Rourke. Joel turns out to be a Jewish soldier of conscience and schools her in the deeper meaning of the fight against Hitler.
The Linen Queen is a historical fiction novel with much going for it. The background of Ireland is beautifully rendered, as well as the rough living in that timeframe. You want to cheer for Shelia when she wins the pageant, because now she can escape her desolute life, but really, when there is a war, is any particular place better than the other?
When the soldiers set up camp in her village, Sheila is determined to snag an officer -- she sees it as her ticket out of that place. She sets her sights on Joel Solomon, much to the chagrin of her childhood friend, Gavin O'Rourke. But Joel is a Jewish American soldier, and Hitler's reach is vast. Putting her dream of leaving Ireland on hold, Sheila works with the people in their fight against Germany, even though it pushes her and Gavin further and further apart. Shelia will need all of her strength, God, and faith to create her new future - one she didn't realize she wanted.
The saying "There's No Place Like Home" comes to mind when I read this novel. Of course, it's also said not to look further than your own backyard. And that is possibly true, but to me, home is family, love, God, all of the things that help make your life complete. Ms. Falvey writes in a beautiful fashion, with the pages turning quickly. Great character development and beautiful scenery. The Linen Queen is compelling, heartbreaking and will also warm your heart. A very good read!