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Love in the Years of Lunacy
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Love in the Years of Lunacy

3.47  ·  Rating Details ·  102 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
A moving, tender and compelling story of forbidden love set amid the devastation of war from the award-winning author of Dreamtime Alice.

Sydney, 1942. Pearl is eighteen, beautiful and impetuous. She plays saxophone in an all-girl jazz band at the Trocadero and occasionally sits in on underground gigs with her twin brother Martin, who also plays the sax. On one such evening
Paperback, 320 pages
Published May 1st 2011 by Atria Books (first published January 1st 2011)
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(showing 1-30)
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I admit historical romance is not something you’d expect me to read but I’m all for literary exploration, so I thought I would give this Australian novel a go. Love in the Years of Lunacy is a typical story of forbidden love, set in war time Sydney. Eighteen year old Pearl is an alto sax player in an all girl jazz band that one day meets African American and jazz legend James Washington and quickly fall in love. While Australia didn’t have any laws to prevent them from falling in love or marryin ...more
Jul 04, 2012 Alison rated it really liked it
I read this for our ABC Radio bookclub - and chose it because I love all of Mandy Sayer's stories. She writes with style and places the reader right in the action. I know Kings Cross because of Mandy Sayer. Knowledgelost asked if the Townsville reference I mentioned saves the book - I believe it is the whole point of the book.
Most people can't suspend their disbelief about Pearl disguising herself as a man to go to New Guinea. I believe that shouldn't be read literally, but with a view on being
Dec 15, 2011 ALPHAreader rated it really liked it
Shelves: cover-love
A famous (and fictional) Indigenous crime writer has discovered a series of biographical tape recordings made by his favourite aunt, who died one year ago. Pearl paved the way for Australian jazz, and in her time she was lauded as a revolutionary musician – both for introducing the blues to Aussie shores, and for being a formidable female saxophone player.

The writer presses play on her recorded memoirs, and is transported back to Sydney in 1942...

American GI’s are in Sydney, helping to guard aga
Mar 20, 2014 Ella rated it did not like it
Oh my...
I didn't think this book would be this bad - I know Mandy Sayer has written other books, and I know they have been very well received! But this book... wow. I could barely get through it.

The first thing that hit me when I began reading the Prelude was the remarkably amateur writing style, something I certainly had not been expecting from an experienced author. I remember reading one particular block of information from the character of the nephew regarding his racial heritage, and mental
Mar 29, 2012 Denise rated it really liked it
A beautiful story of a love affair between a young Australian woman and an African American soldier stationed in Sydney during World War II. The first half was brilliant, the second half was highly improbable, and I would have preferred the main character Pearl's story to have been told in first person. But overall, I enjoyed it immensely and would love to see it made into a feature film.
Apr 09, 2014 TienvoorNegen rated it liked it
Original and moving. Even though the story was unlikely, weird and silly and wasn't in my usual area of interest, it was a page turner.
Sally Williams
Dec 23, 2013 Sally Williams rated it it was ok
Silly, silly silly.


She dresses as a man! The oh, so beautiful Pearl is able to convince other men in close quarters that she's a bloke when she puts on a uniform and goes on a troop ship to New Guinea?
Shakespeare might get away with it, but not a 'realistic' historical novel. The men on those troop ships wandered around with nothing on, it was so hot. Poor Pearl, bound breasts, rugged up in full uniform, unable to shower or go to the toilet. And Pearl couldn't fire a gun, so ho
Jul 02, 2014 Robin rated it it was amazing
I don't often give a book 5 stars, but I enjoyed this one so much I had no choice. It's got everything - a great love story which is pivotal to the narrative, real, empathetic characters, beautiful writing, lush, visceral description and a brilliant sense of place, and last but not least, a rollicking good adventure story, which mimics the sex act by ramping the tension up so high in the second half of the book that you almost can't stand it. AND to boot, a surprise twist at the end.

The only asp
This was so phenomenal I think it has to have 5 stars. I loved everything about it. The way it was framed as a man listening to tapes recorded by his deceased aunt, the way her story built and changed like a jazz song (she was a jazz musician), the exploration of American vs. Australian racism (plus being black in America vs. Australia and the nature of interracial relationships), seeing World War II from the Australian perspective and what it was like fighting in Pacific jungles, the treatment ...more
Mar 02, 2013 OOSA rated it really liked it
Matters of the Heart

When Pearl, a white female jazz saxophonist, and James, a black American GI, begin a love affair in war gripped Sydney in the 1940s, one already knows this is going to be a hard fought love story. In the midst of dealing with the times and a budding forbidden love, James is shipped off to fight in New Guinea, and Pearl is determined to reunite with her love.

Mandy Sayer’s “Love in the Years of Lunacy” was an intensely interesting love story that will tug at your heart. The li
Chloe Stam
Dec 07, 2016 Chloe Stam rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
This book is fantastic. It starts a tad slowly - partly because it begins in the present as an introduction then returns to the past - but soon is rolling ahead. It has everything - mystery, period glamour, racial tension, war, and themes of loyalty, honour, and love above all. The lead protagonist Pearl is not what I expected her to be. I expect your typical 1940's "good girl" but she is stubborn and determined without neglecting her emotions that rush through her and out of the page (as well a ...more
Reyna Grande
Jul 23, 2012 Reyna Grande rated it liked it
The novel had a great start. It moved a good pace and the characters were interesting and engaging. And the lyricism was lovely when the author described music and playing the sax. Halfway through the book, however, things started to slow down and there came a point when the reading became arduous. Then after all the ordeal the protagonist went through, the ending was a terrible disappointment. Also, I wasn't totally convinced about the way the author framed the story (with the 'nephew' listenin ...more
D. R.
Mar 22, 2015 D. R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was moved to tears reading about James and Pearl and the intensity of the love they shared for each other. This is virtuoso work—hilarious, heartbreaking, joyous, stunning. Mandy Sayer's writing is so strong, and her depiction of James and Pearl so detailed and vivid, that I felt as though I were actually reading a non-fiction work and the telling of a real-life love affair.
D. R.
Mar 22, 2015 D. R. rated it it was amazing
I was moved to tears reading about James and Pearl and the intensity of the love they shared for each other. This is virtuoso work—hilarious, heartbreaking, joyous, stunning. Mandy Sayer's writing is so strong, and her depiction of James and Pearl so detailed and vivid, that I felt as though I were actually reading a non-fiction work and the telling of a real-life love affair.
Newtown Review of Books
Dec 17, 2012 Newtown Review of Books rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Love in the Years of Lunacy is the story of a young white Australian woman, Pearl Willis, who plays alto saxophone in the all-girl big band at the Trocadero night club, and her love for James Washington, a black American GI and a hugely talented musician. Read full review here:
Barbara Helen Plumb
Not my usual read but this one was interesting. I didn't know much about the bands playing in Sydney at the time of WW11 and this was a touching love story covering this period.
The ending was sad, however the twist in the tale was satisfying.
Feb 17, 2013 Catherinne rated it it was amazing
I recommend reading this book to my friends - my book cover was different then what shows on this website - but anytime I can read from a author who is from another continent I am also learning their language and their history!
Feb 04, 2013 Paula rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting take on WWII in Sydney Australia in 1942. Pearl plays saxophone in a an all girl band and also plays underground gigs with her brother who to plays the sax. Pearl meets a black GI and falls in love. I think you kind of have to expand your imagination but all in all a good read.
Nov 24, 2012 Susan rated it liked it
Not great literature, but a good story and quite engaging. A different slant on the WWII stuff I've been reading a lot of. Stretching the verisimilitude here but still exciting reading.
Feb 15, 2013 Beatrice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australia, new-guinea
Really sweet story!
Nov 22, 2012 ebook marked it as to-read
Australia, fict, ww2
Ruth Bonetti
Oct 06, 2012 Ruth Bonetti rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book that portrays the WW2 years in Sydney. What a twist at the end!
Jul 05, 2012 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australia, historical
I have many things to say about this book. I'll need some time to organize my thoughts.
Jul 24, 2011 Gee rated it liked it
This was a surprising book - but that's what you read for I guess. Mandy Sayer certainly evoked a Sydney of the past and a main character I found I kept liking more as I read on.
Dec 03, 2016 Don added it
Shelves: n-2012_goal-33
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 01, 2011 Anthea rated it liked it
A breathtaking story of love. And of strength. And of prejudice. And of war.
Rosemary Potter
Dec 16, 2013 Rosemary Potter rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed.
Jun 01, 2012 Liz rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, the characterization and events did not disappoint.
Oct 04, 2016 Barb rated it it was amazing
A gripping story of wartime Australia from a different perspective. A great love story, a great adventure story. Well worth a read.
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