Surrounded by the beauty of her native Mayo, eighteen-year-old Lily dreams of being a famous singer on the London stage – but her parents have planned a more normal life for her, pursuing a degree in UCD.
However, leaving home also means leaving a passionate romance with a handsome, visiting American named Theo. Once in Dublin, secrets and betrayal abound when Lily’s sister Moyra begins a relationship with Theo and Lily’s Aunt Terry, a nun, appears to be harbouring a hidden past. As Moyra’s relationship with Theo turns grim, she desperately needs her sister’s support to keep tragedy at bay. But, still longing to perform, Lily finds herself at a crossroads in life.
Disturbing yet heart-warming, critical yet nostalgic, Carmen Cullen delivers a convincing portrayal of both the warmth and the wrath of 1940s Ireland. Never flinching from the savage social impact of the Church’s power, Cullen’s writing also conveys the charming and simplistic quality of the time, as reflected in the lines of classic Irish ballads, particularly those by the author’s iconic aunt, Delia Murphy. This heartfelt and bittersweet story is a stirring evocation of a bygone era.