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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

REVIEW: Coronation Year, by Jennifer Robson

Available April 4, 2023
It is Coronation Year, 1953, and a new queen is about to be crowned. The people of London are in a mood to celebrate, none more so than the residents of the Blue Lion hotel.

Edie Howard, owner and operator of the floundering Blue Lion, has found the miracle she needs: on Coronation Day, Queen Elizabeth in her gold coach will pass by the hotel’s front door, allowing Edie to charge a fortune for rooms and, barring disaster, save her beloved home from financial ruin. Edie’s luck might just be turning, all thanks to a young queen about her own age. 

Stella Donati, a young Italian photographer and Holocaust survivor, has come to live at the Blue Lion while she takes up a coveted position at Picture Weekly magazine. London in celebration mode feels like a different world to her. As she learns the ins and outs of her new profession, Stella discovers a purpose and direction that honor her past and bring hope for her future.

James Geddes, a war hero and gifted artist, has struggled to make his mark in a world that disdains his Indian ancestry. At the Blue Lion, though, he is made to feel welcome and worthy. Yet even as his friendship with Edie deepens, he begins to suspect that something is badly amiss at his new home.

When anonymous threats focused on Coronation Day, the Blue Lion, and even the queen herself disrupt their mood of happy optimism, Edie and her friends must race to uncover the truth, save their home, and expose those who seek to erase the joy and promise of Coronation Year.

Reading the title, I thought "ooo...a novel about Queen Elizabeth." No, this history adjacent. UK Royal Family adjacent. And a mystery and love story to boot. It's built on the hopes of change and a national rebirth of sorts that came with coronation of a new monarch. It's a new era, and only good things are possible.

Robson immerses us in the time period. The day to day grind of running a 400 year old family-owned hotel and its staff as a woman in the 1950s. The struggles of holding on to tradition and values, while moving forward into the new age. Facing bigotry and racism in the post-war world. She also showcases the idea that families can be created from those you do life with when you've lost your biological one.

The characters are relatable and both complicated and simple in their development. It was a delightful read, and I hesitated to end the story because I was so comfortable in it. 

It's a bit of a niche title for a high school libray, but I have a group who enjoys mysteries that are few steps above a cozy mystery, and another group that likes period stories. I could see some scenes being conversation starters for SEL lessons or history topics.

What do you think??

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Enter Text Here through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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This work is licensed by Jennifer Turney under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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