Title: The Lady
Author: Judy Higgins
Reviewed by Holly
I would like to take a moment to marvel at technology. The reason I read this book is because I saw an announcement on a friend’s Facebook page that his mom had written a book, and after further clicking, it looked like a fun YA, historical fiction novel, and it had the credibility of being named a semifinalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakout Novel Contest. I didn’t know there was such a contest, but it sounds legit, right? (And, if you look up the contest, it looks like kind of a cool way to discover new writers. Check it out). So anyway, my friend Steveo’s (shoutout to Holly’s Super Awesome Tennis League!) mom wrote this story, had a successful run in this Amazon contest with her manuscript, and was able to publish the book, which I learned about from Facebook and then bought with 1-click on read on my Kindle. I am pretty sure that, even just a few years ago, one or more of those steps would have been a lot more drawn out.
Here’s the synopsis from Goodreads:
“When sixteen-year-old Quincy Bruce goes to live with her Aunt Addy, she has no idea that what happened thirteen years earlier in wartime London can destroy her future. Her parents have gone to Africa as missionaries, leaving Quincy with her free-spirited and lively aunt, a war widow, and the only person who supports Quincy’s ambition to become a musician. When another aunt accuses Addy of having been the inspiration for the adulterous woman in Nathan Waterstone’s infamous wartime novel, The Lady, Quincy vows to prove her wrong. As Quincy settles into her new life with Addy, she sets about unraveling the secrets of Addy’s life, and of Nathan’s, in an effort to discover the true identity of the Lady. When she makes a discovery of a different type, Quincy’s dreams of becoming a pianist come crashing down.”
Aunt Addy is beautiful, charming, rich, generous, and patient – and an independent woman in South Georgia in the 1950s. I loved her – and so does her niece, Quincy. I really liked the story of what Quincy learned under Aunt Addy’s tutelage (and some behind her back), and there’s enough plot twists to keep the story moving.
I had a couple details that I got hung up on. One, and this is in the synopsis and so obviously not a spoiler, is that Quincy goes to live with Aunt Addy because her parents are going to Africa as missionaries. The parents up and leaving behind their 16 year-old daughter is not the strongest plot point, even with further clarification later in the story. However, Quincy’s parents must be out of the picture for all the wonderful – and terrible – things to happen, and I’m not sure there was a better way to make that happen.
My second point of contention is Quincy’s age – she is 16, but I think she just as easily could have been read as 13 or 14. She is a young 16, and annoyingly naive at times. Here though, I have to be fair and think about the context – it is the 1950s in rural Georiga, and she is the daughter of a Baptist preacher, so perhaps her maturity level is spot-on. And, I get annoyed with the opposite end of the spectrum, when teenagers are overly self-aware (ahem, John Green) – I think I need to write a whole separate post about that. Anyway, the lines I highlighted as some of my favorite in this book are indicative of what Quincy learns throughout the story, as part of her whole transition into young adulthood.
Parting Words (my favorite lines):
“Maybe you don’t know what you are because your parents aren’t here to tell you what to think…people believe what their parents tell them to believe. And parents believe what their parents told them to believe. It’s like lining up dominoes. You push the first one, and all the others fall over, one by one. Generation after generation believes what they’ve been told, and hardly anyone ever stops to question what’s really true.”
Rating: THREE STARS