1939: Europe is on the brink of war when young Lily Shepherd boards an ocean liner in Essex, bound for Australia. She is ready to start anew, leaving behind the shadows in her past. The passage proves magical, complete with live music, cocktails, and fancy dress balls. With stops at exotic locations along the way—Naples, Cairo, Ceylon—the voyage shows Lily places she’d only ever dreamed of and enables her to make friends with those above her social station, people who would ordinarily never give her the time of day. She even allows herself to hope that a man she couldn’t possibly have a future with outside the cocoon of the ship might return her feelings.
But Lily soon realizes that she’s not the only one hiding secrets. Her newfound friends—the toxic wealthy couple Eliza and Max; Cambridge graduate Edward; Jewish refugee Maria; fascist George—are also running away from their pasts. As the glamour of the voyage fades, the stage is set for something sinister to occur. By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and Lily’s life will be changed irrevocably.
Lily Shepherd boards a ship to Australia that will take five weeks to reach its destination – Sydney, Australia. Lily hadn’t planned on leaving England, but when she saw an ad in the paper to travel on the assisted-passage scheme, the opportunity was too good to pass up. While aboard the ship she becomes close to several passengers and most of them have a little something to hide from one another. What happens when you throw complete strangers on a ship from all different social classes, as well as ethnic backgrounds, during a time when the world is on the brink of war? You will have to read it to find out.
I couldn’t help but to think of this story in terms of a masquerade ball. Strangers coming together for a trip of a lifetime, excitement is in the air and new friendships are to be made. Being that no one knows each other, everyone can be whoever they want to be. They can hide behind their masks of truth and no one would know otherwise.
I found Lily to be likeable and relatable, but for the most part the rest of the passengers came across as being two-dimensional. Eliza was anything but two-dimensional, but she got under my skin and I eventually found her to be quite annoying.
I enjoyed the many excursions the passengers went on during several of their port stops. I found the descriptions of the sights and sounds of each city to be very enjoyable.
I appear to be in the minority here with my enjoyment of this book. I was really looking forward to it, but for me it fell a bit flat. I however encourage you to read it and hopefully you will have a much better experience with it.
*Thank you NetGalley, Atria Books, and Rachel Rhys for the opportunity to read and review this book for my honest opinion.
My Rating: 3/5
Genre: Historical Mystery
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: 3/23/2017 (UK) & 1/9/2018 (US)
Pages: 364 (eBook)