The English Girl is a sweeping tale of one girl’s life into adulthood, set to the backdrop of extraordinary times.
Margaret Leroy’s passion for music is obvious in her most recent novel. She studied music at Oxford before working as a music therapist and social worker. Leroy interweaves her love of music into the life of her protagonist, seventeen-year-old Stella Whittaker.
Set in 1930s Vienna just before the outbreak of the Second World War, it is Stella Whittaker’s story. She is offered the chance to study piano at the prestigious Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. Stella’s mother organises for her stay with old friends Rainer and Marthe Kraus. Leaving behind England, a place she once called home, Stella embarks on a new life in Vienna.
Stella falls in love with the beauty and elegance of her new city. She explores the coffee shops and art galleries, where she meets and falls in love with young Jewish doctor Harri Reznik.
As their relationship progresses Stella finds herself shunned by those she once called friends. With the threat of war casting a shadow over Europe people’s loyalties change as well as their sensibilities. Stella no longer sees the city in the same light as she once did. It seems no one is safe.
Intricately researched, Leroy’s novel is steeped in period details. A beautifully crafted novel that reveals the uncertainty of the time. I highly recommend it.
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