BOOK CLUB: The Daughter of Victory Lights

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[Total: 3 Average: 5]

Author: Kerri Turner
ISBN: 978-1-4892-5672-0
Copy courtesy of HQ Fiction

When you only put a book down because it’s late and you can no longer keep your eyes open, and the first thing you do when you wake is to pick it up and finish it then you know it’s a great read and that in a nutshell sums up Turner’s second novel, The Daughter of Victory Lights.

I loved everything about this book, from the stunningly evocative cover to the descriptions of the characters’ experiences during the Second World War, never gory but achingly real, and the difficulties so many had returning to “normal” life afterward.

The book is split into two halves, the first half covers the period 1941 to approximately 1953, the second half from 1963 onwards.  In the first half of the book, we meet Evelyn Bell, the middle sister of three. Evelyn lives with her elder sister Cynthia in London, Cynthia’s husband Charles is away fighting in the war, and their younger sister Maureen has been evacuated.  Although Evelyn is aware that Cynthia would prefer her to be involved in the Women’s Volunteer Services (doing such essential tasks as unpicking damaged Merchant Navy stockings and knitting them into jerseys), she has successfully applied for the Auxiliary Territorial Service. 

Evelyn is posted to a confidential trial for a women’s unit to operate the searchlights used to light up incoming enemy aircraft to enable the anti-aircraft operators to shoot the planes down before they have a chance to release their bombs over London. This posting does not please Cynthia who is very much “old school” in her beliefs about what a woman should do, how she should dress and how she should behave.

We also meet Flynn, happily working at Smith’s Union Bar in Honolulu, Hawaii, catering to the men of the USS Arizona, on the night the Japanese attack Pearl Harbour and America is forced to join the war. Flynn joins the army and is assigned to the 607th Quartermaster Graves Registration Company, their job to go into the field and identify the dead. 

In 1943 he is posted to England, where the racial rivalry between the companies of black GI’s and White GI’s is highlighted (despite the fact that they are all ostensibly on the same side!). An incident involving a small child, her stuffed dalmatian toy and Alvin, a black GI, will change his world forever.

Post-war we find Evelyn struggling to return to a life of being a woman in the 1940s.  Cynthia who is now the mother of a young boy, Spencer, is hell-bent on getting Evelyn married off as a “proper woman should be.” That is not the life that Evelyn wants and a chance meeting with Flynn and Alvin results in her joining The Victory, a boat providing nightly burlesque entertainment, as an operator of the stage lighting.  The first half of the story ends with Evelyn, now known as Evie, still aboard the Victory, but now the unwed mother of baby Lucy, having been completely disowned by both of her sisters.

In the second half of the book, we meet Lucy, now 10 and living with Cynthia, Charles and their children Spencer and Ruth.  She is clearly not wanted or loved, but it is the only home she remembers. The brief information she has about her mother is that she was a bad woman, no information is forthcoming about her father and any questions are met with immediate punishment.

Then one day a man arrives at Lucy’s home, he introduces himself as Humphrey Walsh and advises he has come to take Lucy to live with her father.  Totally confused, Lucy is bundled with her few possessions into Humphrey’s car and sets off for her new life on the Isle of Wight.

Here she slowly begins to uncover the story of who her mother was, and what happened to her, as well as discovering the broken man who is her father, as she works to find her place in life.

Thank you to HQ Fiction/HarperCollins and Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read and review this fabulous book,  Highly recommended to lovers of Historical Fiction or anyone who enjoys a well written and researched book.

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading The Daughter of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

18 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: The Daughter of Victory Lights

  1. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to read Daughter Of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner.

    I loved this beautiful story. At times I caught myself smiling and what joy the book was bringing me and at other times I had a bit of a teary moment.

    A beautiful tale of courage, determination and sacrifice.
    The characters were a mixture of troubled from the war which they were caught up in and colourful when they preformed upon the Victory.

    This book kept me turning the pages as quickly as I could.


  2. The Daughter of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner is the story of Evelyn Bell, and her daughter Lucy.
    After defying her controlling sister and working as a searchlight operator during the war, Evelyn struggles to return to the confines of a normal life. A chance encounter leads her to discover the Victory, a thrilling night time show on a boat.
    Her life, as it unfolds upon the traveling boat, is influenced by the misfits that make up the cast and crew, all with their own demons.
    A heartbreaking relationship with Flynn, a man so damaged by his experiences during the war, is doomed to disaster.
    The second half of the book follows Lucy’s life, as she finally meets the father she never knew, and a kind of peace and resolution is met.
    Beautifully written and evocative of the history of the times, this book draws you in, and the characters linger long after the book is complete.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins for the opportunity to read this book.

  3. Thank you for the opportunity to read The Daughter Of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner.

    It is a story of Evelyn living in London during the war. She becomes a searchlight operator during the war to do her part in an exciting way. Her sisters are not thrilled with this and would rather she does a more sedater activity to assist.
    When the war is over she doesn’t think her boring life will be enough, and ends up on an entertainment boat called Victory. This does not please her sisters who disassociate with her.

    Flynn is in America during the war, seeing too much death and destruction for it not to affect him. He makes a friend called Alvin and after the war he ends up on the Victory.

    Evie (as she is now known) finds her calling working on the boat’s lighting, and friends with many on the boat, including Flynn.

    We are then taken to years later and a young girl called Lucy who is living with her aunt. One day a man from Victory comes to collect her and take her to a house to live with her father, Bee and the man who collected her Humphrey. They are all so different, performers and have their own secrects.
    Depsite this Lucy learns more about time on Victory and how she fits in to her new family.

    I found this an amazing insight into war, the aftermath and how changes could affect lifetimes and beyond. it shosed that life is far from perfect, but can have moments of brilliance large and small. Everything came to life for me due to Kerri’s wonderful writing.

  4. Kerri Turner has excelled with this book. It will not be the last book I read of hers.

    This book had me at the gorgeous cover and I had heard many great things about it. It was better than I imagined.I could not put this down. It made me smile and also had tears in my eyes as it was so emotionally moving.

    Evelyn had a tough time at home with her two sisters who treated her with such disdain for being unmarried and then choosing to volunteer in an all female searchlight regiment during the war. Where she discovers her passion for lights and what she can make them do.

    Evelyn comes home lost after the war is over. She wants more than the mundane “normal” life that she is supposed to be living. She by chance meets a fire breather who introduces her to her new family. The Victory is a travelling boat that performs all over the coasts. Its performers all people that don’t really fit in. Evelyn, who changes her name to Evie, gets to do her thing with lights on the boat and fits right in.

    She falls pregnant and has a beautiful daughter so the secong half of the book comes from the daughters point of view. Lucy uncovers the truth about her mother and father through a change in her life when she is ten.

    This book is extremely well written. I was so attached to the characters.that I didn’t want it to be over.

    Thanks to HQ fiction and Beauty and Lace for this ARC for me to read and review. It was an absolute pleasure.

    1. “The Daughter of Victory Lights” is actually two tales with a common link. Kerri Turner starts with the story of Evelyn Bell, a volunteer with a searchlight regiment who is left feeling disillusioned after the war ends
      She can’t quietly and meekly fall into the role of suburban wife which is the expectation of her two sisters. Fate intervenes and Evelyn grabs it and transforms herself into Evie.
      The second half of the book introduces us to Lucy a child growing up unloved and unwanted in her Aunt’s home. Out of the blue a stranger whisks her away to a magical home where she is shown love for the first time in years
      There is a great mix of characters in this novel. I loved the mix of human frailty and strength. Seeing characters grow as they realise their place in the world and that family is not limited by blood
      This novel was interesting to me after watching a movie about the Windmill theatre and how they worked around the nudity laws. I could imagine a boat like the Victory working in these times
      Thanks to Beauty and Lace bookclub and Harper Collins for a great read that kept me glued to the pages until the wee hours

  5. The book is well written but having trouble getting into it as the mood of the world is so devastating,I feel To read about war and death is too much for me at this time.

  6. So many people must have felt lost and disconnected after the hideous trauma and intense experience of war, and Kerri Turner’s The Daughter of Victory Lights is a fascinating exploration of how two people – Evelyn and Flynn – cope in the aftermath, and how their experiences have long lasting effects into the future. Two storylines from different times are skilfully interwoven in this beautiful book that effortlessly transports the reader in both time and place. Historical fiction at its best!

  7. The Daughter of the Victory Lights by Kerri Turner is a wonderful war time story told from a female perspective. Evelyn, or Evie as she came to be known, is a somewhat complex character who worked during the war and then at its conclusion became isolated by the trauma of the experiences.

    Her relationship with Flynn, was both intense and intriguing as he himself was dealing with stresses caused by his wartime occupation. Isolation and reclusion became his best method of escape.

    The result of the liaison, a daughter Lucy, eventually reunites with her father after a decade of isolation was forced upon her following her mothers death and her fathers reluctance to accept his role as parent.

    Lucy finally finds her place in the world, alongside a monster, a magician and a wanted woman!

  8. The Daughter of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner is a beautifully written book that delves into the role of women in WWII and the aftermath of them having to return to ‘approved women’s roles’ when the men return from the war.
    Evelyn was a wartime volunteer in a all-female searchlight regiment helping to protect London against the night time German bombing raids. At the end of the war, she can not imagine going back to the same life before she volunteered. Evelyn comes across a secret show that is preformed on a boat on the river out of the reach of the law and joins them, much to the dismay and disgust of her disapproving sister.
    The crew on the ‘Victory’ is a mismatch of performers from all walks of life, each with their secrets.
    In 1963 we meet Lucy, Evelyns daughter who is living with her 2 Aunts, Uncle and her cousins. She is not loved or wanted but this is the only life that Lucy remembers. Along comes a stranger who collects her and takes her on a journey to the Isle of Wight. There Lucy gets to know people who knew and loved her Mother. Lucy is treated with love and kindness. Her Father Flynn is also living in the house.
    There are secrets Lucy is trying to understand, to learn of her Mother and what happened to her, and understand why her Father is so damaged. It is a lot for a 10 year old little girl to try to understand.
    The story of Evie, as Evelyn became known as, Flynn her Father and the life on the Victory and the outcome is slowly unravelled, the story is both happy, sad and bittersweet.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and HQ Fiction/HarperCollins for the opportunity to read this poignant book.

  9. I fell into this book with ease and resonated with the characters well as if I was right there.
    First book I have read by Kerri Turner and won’t be the last as I really enjoyed this historical fiction with a lot of emotions surfacing throughout.
    Such a well written book, loved it!

  10. Thanks Beauty & Lace Book Club and Harper Collins for a chance to read The Daughter of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner.

    I have to admit that if I didn’t receive a copy of this book as part of the book club, I probably would have never read it. That would have been a great loss as it’s a very well written book with authentic characters that are just trying to make their way through their new world. The stories were very cleverly interwoven and the emotions were genuine.
    I can’t wait to read more by this author.

  11. Thank you so much Beauty and Lace and HQ Fiction/Harlequin Enterprises for the opportunity to review The Daughter of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner.
    I also read Kerri’s debut novel ‘The Last Days of the Romanov Dancers, I love that Kerri a trained dancer from a young age, still dances and teaches over 55’s dance classes, Kerri’s love of dancing shines through in both novels.

    I loved the depth of research that Kerri undertook for this book, that today I can still walk into the Smith’s Union Bar in North Hotel Street, Honolulu, largely unchanged since the 1940’s and have a drink, (after Covid_19 and the world as we once knew it returns to normal) with the survivors of the USS Arizona, that frequent the bar. The bar walls filled will military memorabilia many autographed by the battleship’s crew. That the illustrious Victory size and layout is modelled on the real-life oldest steam coaster the SS Robin, and the amazing first all-female searchlight regiment, that proved beyond all doubt that, yes, women were capable both physically and mentally carrying out such a male dominated role.

    This book is so much more than an historical romance novel, the
    gut-wrenching tasks of the Graves Registration unit men that haunted them for many years after the war. The factual references to the London bombings, the Polish Air Fighters, the American Ground Infantry Troops, the food shortages, the ration coupons, the Anderson shelters, the bombing of Pearl Harbour the friendships that were built, the racial lines that were held, then demolished between the soldiers, the camaraderie, the selfless sacrifice, I am now so much more learned about World War II, it feels quiet poignant that I’m writing this review on Anzac Day.

    I loved the characters, the monster, the blinged eye patched magician, the ‘wanted woman’ all with hearts of gold, with a tonne of love for a little girl lost, and ‘Dismal Desmond’ the Dalmatian dog, a much loved mascot of the England Cricket Team and featured in the ladies dressing room at Wimbledon.

    The gradual unravelling of Lucy’s life before Aunt’s Maureen and Cynthia, Uncle Charles, cousins Ruth and Spencer and going to bed without any dinner, and after 10 years finally knowing what her mother looked like.

    Without giving too much away, this book covers everything from PTSD, dysfunctional sibling rivalry, child neglect, disfigurement, forgiveness, acceptance, joy, despair, fear of the ocean phobia Thalassophobia, I cannot recommend highly enough that you definitely add this book to your TBR pile, you won’t be disappointed.

  12. Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins for gifting me this book to read.

    Where do you begin with this book. For me it begins with the gorgeous cover. It wasn’t until after reading the book I noticed the plane in the background which has a part in the story.
    I would have chosen this book off the shelf for it’s cover alone even without reading the blurb.

    Such a heart grabbing story that begins in 1941 as we get to know Evelyn Bell.
    We follow through with her in her role in the newly formed all-female 93rd Searchlight Regiment.. Her war time duties would have been tough and traumatic and lets us get to know how strong and proud she is.

    After the war is over she goes back to living with her family but it just doesn’t hold the same excitement and appeal that she is used to.

    Then one night she finds by accident a secret night-time show. This show is full of magic and excitement and might just be what she’s looking for. With her war-time skills now able to be put to use she joins the misfit crew.

    The book the changes and we are now in 1963 and the main character of the story is 10 year old Lucy, daughter of Evelyn Bell. She’s living unloved and unwanted with her Auntie, Uncle and her cousins. She’s always been told how bad her mother was and if she dares ask anything about her mother a punishment will be the answer.

    One day there’s a knock at the door and Lucy’s life is changed and a whole new world opens for her.
    A world where she is able to ask all the questions she wants about her mother, a world where she is loved and wanted and finally feels home.

    What an amazing story not only did I find a warmly written book about love, loss, trauma and happiness but I found a story with some serious, traumatic topics covered with respect and honesty.

    There are many twists and discoveries that keep you pulled into wanting to keep reading but knowing that you need to close the book and go to sleep.

    Through reading this book I have learnt about a group of incredibly strong women doing roles such as the Searchlight Regiment that helped so many men during the war. Something that will stay with me forever.

    To Kerri Turner Thank you for all the beauty and harmony within the pages.

  13. What an amazing story, laughed cried and cried some more. I was engaged in this story from the moment I picked it up. Definitely recommend this one what a winner! Thankyou beauty and lace for the opportunity to read it!

  14. Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Harper Collins for allowing me to read The Daughter Of Victory Lights.
    The story begins during 1941 with Evelyn Bell being part of the war effort in the searchlight regiment.
    When the war is over Evelyn comes across a show on a boat and joins them.
    Fast forward and we meet a little girl called Lucy who lives with her 2 aunties, her uncle and cousins. Her mum is Evelyn but she only know the life with her aunties. She is too afraid to ask about her mum as she has always been told her mum is bad.
    During this time she learns more and more about who her mother is and a knock on the door changes everything for Lucy.
    I don’t want to ruin the story but I promise it’s worth a read. It covers PTSD which I think is very important for people to know about.
    This beautiful book will take you on an amazing ride with its many twists and turns. I loved it.

  15. This story to me, was so thought provoking, as it was an era I had heard so much about from my parents, both who lived through that era, and were working and fighting, during the war.
    The characters and their experiences sometimes had me close to tears, but at other times eagerly waiting to see where they would be next.
    Love, loss, unforgettable trauma’s , and living on after the aftermath of it all.
    A book I could not put down, and would highly recommend to anyone wanting a heartfelt, extremely well researched. and respectful story, about a time in life that changed so many lives for ever.
    It truly is an amazing story.
    Thank you so much Kerri Turner, for an incredible read, and to Beauty & Lace and Harper Collins, for the opportunity to read it. A story I will remember for a long time to come.

  16. The Daughter of Victory Lights by Kerri Turner is a fabulous book. From the moment I started reading I was hooked and I couldn’t put it down. Even with an unexpected shift and move forward in time in Part 2 of the novel the larger than life characters and clever story held my interest from cover to cover. There were distinct settings in this book, the all female searchlight regiment during the war, the socially unacceptable performers and their risqué show on board the Victory post war and then in the home 8 year old Lucy found on the Isle of Wight with her father and ex Victory characters. Turner cleverly transitioned from one to the other with, in my opinion, great success and I would highly recommend this book. Looking forward to reading the first of Kerri Turner’s novels and hoping more are on the horizon.
    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Enterprises for the opportunity to read and review The Daughter of Victory Lights.

  17. I am still absolutely torn by this book. I really struggled to get into the story even though it resonated with me, however once I did get into it i was hooked.
    The Daughter of Victory Lights really highlighted the way women assisted and played their part during WWII and how that changed women and their place in society. It highlighted the struggle that women felt in returning to the previous ‘normal’ after having freedom and independence as part of the war movement.
    Turner moves fluidly between the eras the book covers and provides a wonderful backdrop to the main story. The characters are flawed and in no way perfect, but they are written in a way that you cannot help but empathise and want the best for them.
    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for allowing me the opportunity to read Daughter of Victory Lights.

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