BOOK CLUB: The Daughter of Victory Lights

Click to rate this book!
[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 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *