Lillian on Life: A Novel by Alison Jean Lester
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Lillian, a single, well-travelled woman of a certain age, wakes up next to her married lover and looks back at her life. It's not at all the life she expected.
Walking the unpaved road between traditional and modern options for women, Lillian has grappled with parental disappointment, society's expectations and the vagaries of love and sex. As a narrator she's bold and witty, and her reflections - from 'On Getting to Sex' to 'On the Importance of Big Pockets' or 'On Leaving in Order to Stay' - reverberate originally and unpredictably.
In Lillian on Life, Alison Jean Lester has created a brutally honest portrait of a woman living through the post-war decades of change in Munich, Paris, London and New York. Her story resonates with the glamour and energy of those cities. Charming, sometimes heartbreaking, never a stereotype, Lillian is completely herself; her view of the world is unique. You won't soon forget her.
I would like to thank my mum for reading and reviewing this.
This reads a bit like an autobiography or a memoir in that it does not fall easily into one of the typical genres. Loved Lillian, a sassy, highly likeable strong woman who has been through many challenges in her fifty seven years and who is finally taking stock of her life. We encounter Lillian as she looks back over her life but never in a self absorbed way, she doesn't feel sorry for herself rather more regretful about decisions made in her youth that with the hindsight of experience she may have done differently.
This is a woman with a great sense of humour who at times looks back with melancholy and a degree of sadness but you still get a feeling of determination and hope for the future. We see her vulnerability, her unashamed love of sex and her honesty about her relationships whose failure seem to be connected to her disjointed affections with her parents.
Having had a string of relationships and lovers one stands out as probably being the love of her life, Ted. He is married and she meets him when she takes up a temporary post as his secretary/assistant, they embark on an affair. She is very honest about the relationship and like most mistresses doesn't expect anything permanent but deep inside hopes for more. So touching and sad, a woman with so much to give who has had some happy times in her life and who needs to take stock and move on to the next chapter.
I read this in a few hours, it was easy to connect with Lillian as she was so 'real' as I said it almost reads like an autobiography. I felt sad at her failed relationships but hopeful that at the end of the book it was really like a new beginning for her, I hope so, maybe we will have a sequel.
Good 5 stars for originality, good writing and instant connection with the character.
I would like to thank the publisher for sending this in exchange for an honest review.