Daisy Chain is the story of two girls who grow up to be life-long friends. Written for historical fiction fans, this book takes place between 1909 and 1929. The story opens in a country village in Scotland; Lily and Jeanie come from differing social classes, but they are firm friends. Lily loves to paint and Jeanie wants to be a dancer.
As they reach adulthood, Lily attends art school in Glasgow, while Jeanie finds her way onto the stage. Both girls work hard and excel in their chosen careers. After the war, Lily marries and moves to China with her husband, while Jeanie goes on tour with her dance company.
Both women are very likable characters, and there is just the right amount of scene-setting about Lily’s art world and Jeanie’s dance company to compliment the characters and add interest. There are many well-written secondary characters; some I wanted to know much more about. I really enjoyed the parts of the book that took place in Shanghai; 1920s China is a time and place that I know very little about, and I was very interested to read that the author was awarded a grant from the Society Of Authors to travel to Shanghai to complete the research for this book.
This was an easy, compelling read set in a time of groundbreaking changes for women, and it certainly kept my attention throughout.
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Lily Crawford and Jeanie Taylor, from very different backgrounds, are firm friends from their childhoods in Kirkcudbright. They share their ambitions for their futures, Lily to be an artist, Jeanie to be a dancer.
The two women’s eventful lives are intertwined. In the years before the First World War, the girls lose touch when Jeanie runs away from home and joins a dance company, while Lily attends The Mack, Glasgow’s famous school of art designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh. A chance meeting reunites them and together they discover a Glasgow at the height of its wealth and power as the Second City of the Empire – and a city of poverty and overcrowding. Separated once again after the war, Lily and Jeanie find themselves on opposite sides of the world. Lily follows her husband to Shanghai while Jeanie’s dance career brings her international fame. But the glamour and dissolution of 1920s Shanghai finally lead Lily into peril. Her only hope of survival lies with her old friend Jeanie, as the two women turn to desperate measures to free Lily from danger.
Inspired by the eventful and colourful lives of the pioneering women artists The Glasgow Girls, particularly that of Eleanor Allen Moore, Daisy Chain is a story of independence, women’s art, resilience and female friendship, set against the turbulent background of the early years of the 20th century.
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