Natasha Lester’s A Kiss From Mr Fitzgerald was one of my favourite reads of 2016. Her commitment to writing inspires me, so I was more than a little keen to read her next novel, Her Mother’s Secret. Here’s the blurb:
1918, England. Armistice Day should bring peace into Leonora’s life. Rather than secretly making cosmetics in her father’s chemist shop to sell to army nurses such as Joan, her adventurous Australian friend, Leo hopes to now display her wares openly. Instead, Spanish flu arrives in the village, claiming her father’s life. Determined to start over, she boards a ship to New York City. On the way she meets debonair department store heir Everett Forsyth . . . In Manhattan, Leo works hard to make her cosmetics dream come true, but she’s a woman alone with a small salary and a society that deems make-up scandalous.
1949, New York City. Everett’s daughter, Alice, a promising ballerina, receives a mysterious letter inviting her to star in a series of advertisements for a cosmetics line. If she accepts she will be immortalized like dancers such as Zelda Fitzgerald, Josephine Baker and Ginger Rogers. Why, then, are her parents so quick to forbid it?
There’s a lot to love about Natasha Lester’s writing – not only does she weave captivating stories, but she embroiders them with details that make the stories pop. As I read Her Mother’s Secret, I found myself cross-referencing Lalique perfume bottles (and wishing I had some). I was drawn into Leo’s world in her small town in England, on the ship as she crossed the Atlantic, and in exciting and challenging New York; I became part of her journey of dreams. Natasha’s stories have that way about them.
Expect drama, tears, and smiles as Leo follows her dream but hibernates her heart. Expect a story that will draw you in with clever prose. Expect heartache, heartbreak and heartwarming moments. And above all, expect to be inspired by strong characters in restrictive societal and gender circumstances who don’t give in easily. You won’t be disappointed.
Available from good bookstores (RRP $29.99) from March 28. My ARC was courtesy of Hachette Australia.
For more of Monique Mulligan’s writing on books, check out Write Note Reviews
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- The French Photographer (Natasha Lester) – book review
- The Visionist by Rachel Urquhart – book review
- Eleanor’s Secret (Caroline Beecham) – book review
David Edwards is the editor of The Blurb and a contributor on film and television