A TALE OF GLAMOUR, INTRIGUE AND DESIRE ABOUT A YOUNG WOMAN’S ASTONISHING JOURNEY TO A NEW LIFE IN AUSTRALIA AT THE BRINK OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR
England, September 1939
Lily Shepherd boards a cruise liner for a new life in Australia and is plunged into a world of cocktails, jazz and glamorous friends. But as the sun beats down, long-hidden secrets begin to surface. Her heart beats faster for the attention of handsome Edward, but is his heart already taken?
Australia, six-weeks later
The world is at war, the cruise liner docks, and Lily’s desire for Edward is untameable. But something else is awry on this ship and Lily is determined to find out ….
This story intrigued me, partly because I sailed from England to Singapore when I was 15 and then from Australia to London 3 years later, stopping at many of the same ports as Lily, but my trips were 30 years later. The P & O Orontes, launched only ten years before this story began, had 3 classes. Lily, who was making an assisted passage to Australia to take up domestic work, shared a 3rd class cabin down on F deck where the laundries were, but she was thrilled by the formal dinners, dancing and leisure. At her dinner table she made friends with siblings, Helena and Edward Fletcher and became their companion on the trip. Soon the threesome had met Max and Eliza Campbell, a very wealthy married couple who preferred to be with them rather than with the disapproving people on their first-class deck.
Eliza is glamorous and flamboyant, Max, handsome and dangerous. Lily prefers to be with the sensitive, curly haired Edward, but he blows hot and cold, sometimes her intimate friend and at other times ignoring her. Lily also makes friends with Maria Katz, a Jewish refugee, worried about her parents who are still in Austria, but some of the other passengers, especially the odious George, who frequently leers at Lily, make disparaging remarks about the Jewish people.
Both Edward and Lily hide secrets in their past and like many on board, hope to start afresh in Australia. The adventures the group of friends have in each port show us life as it was, in Port Said, Gibraltar and Colombo, vividly and the overindulgent behaviour of the passengers on board the ship reflect the pre-war frenzy of pleasure before their world fell apart.
This increasingly tense story leads up to a distressing climax and we hope for the best for a group of people we have come to know well. Will Lily remain unscathed? And what does her future hold?
Dangerous Crossing on Amazon UK
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