Review: Lily by Rose Tremain


Nobody knows yet that she is a murderer…

Abandoned at the gates of a London park one winter’s night in 1850, baby Lily Mortimer is saved by a young police constable and taken to the London Foundling Hospital. Lily is fostered by an affectionate farming family in rural Suffolk, enjoying a brief childhood idyll before she is returned to the Hospital, where she is punished for her rebellious spirit. Released into the harsh world of Victorian London, Lily becomes a favoured employee at Belle Prettywood’s Wig Emporium, but all the while she is hiding a dreadful secret…

Across the years, policeman Sam Trench keeps watch over the young woman he once saved. When Sam meets Lily again, there is an instant attraction between them and Lily is convinced that Sam holds the key to her happiness – but might he also be the one to uncover her crime and so condemn her to death?


Lily by Rose Tremain I found to have an excellent plot, with some great twists and shocks. The character of Lily is fascinating, how she reacts and feels about her life, and her interactions with the other characters depending on how they have treated her is very interesting and deep.

However, I found the pacing to be very slow, it took a long time to get answers which was a bit frustrating. It skipped around in the timeline with no clear definition, it could change mid-page or mid-chapter which was confusing. 

The end I felt was too ambiguous, once we finally had our answers there was no sense of closure or ending which again frustrated me.

An ok read, perhaps a grab on the train to fill the time rather than a ‘must read’. 

Thank you to the Publishers and Netgalley for the e-arc to review.

Author Bio

Rose Tremain’s best-selling novels have won many awards, including the Baileys Women’s Prize, the Whitbread Novel of the Year, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and the Prix Femina Etranger. Restoration, the first of her novels to feature Robert Merivel, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She lives in Norfolk and London with the biographer Richard Holmes.

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