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Lily Cigar
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Lily Cigar

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  49 ratings  ·  10 reviews
She was a beautiful young innocent, driven into the sins of that womanhood by the dark desires that ruled men's hearts.
You will never forget Lily -- as a child watching her mother die in an orphan struggling to protect her reckless a teen-aged innocent discovering the power of a fear-filled young girl learning to sell her body in the most...more
Paperback, 602 pages
Published August 7th 1979 by Signet (first published 1979)
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Orphaned at ten, Lily Malone and her older brother Fergus are shuffled off to St. Patrick's Orphanage. Being the good Irish Catholic that she is, Lily dutifully obeys the nuns and learns the skills they teach her, but brother Fergus runs off to seek his fortune in California and is presumed dead at sea. At fifteen, Lily takes a position as between-stairs maid to the very rich Wallingford family, who being both newly rich and Catholic are not yet invited into the best homes - but they'll do anyth...more
First line:
Lily looked at her mother. Mary Malone lay very still, thin under the thin sheet and nearly that pale, worn thin and worn out by the working and the fevers.
Oh wow, what a book! It’s one of those fat sagas that encompasses a woman’s life from childhood to old age, a genre I love, but this one stands quite above so many others due to its precise characterization, pacing, and catchy turns of phrase. The author knew what he wanted to show and showed it, and didn’t try to cover everythi...more
Now that I've digested this epic historical tome, I'm ready to review. Usually I begin with a synopsis (whether for good or ill :P), but not today. Lily Cigar features a ginormous, sprawling plot -- so let's skip directly to dessert, hm?

This is a very good book.
This is a very good book that is unjustly OOP.
This is a very good book that would sell if it was reprinted today. (But keep the original cover -- I love that high-drama-old-school aura, though the book is nothing so torrid & graphic...more
I loved the first half of this 1850s Americana rags to riches saga as we followed Lily from orphanage to whorehouse to respectable businesswoman, but once the riches had been reached, there didn't seem anywhere else for the story to go, and I ended up skim-reading the last couple of hundred pages. Great start, disappointing finish.
Wow, wow, wow. Just loved it.
Rise from rags and orphanage in late 19th, early 20th century to riches and cream of society with quifew turns in the road. Part of it paralleled the civil war era and the attitudes of some of the participants. Also what happened in their lives as a result. The book held my attention until about the last few chapters, then for me, the larger than life aspect went a little too far. The story although it focused on one person was almost an epic of three generations in one family in particular. Cha...more
A very entertaining, nostalgic, rags-to-riches saga with a spirited, indefatigable heroine in Lily. Forty years ago I would have swallowed this tale hook, line, and sinker. Today, I prefer characters and plot lines that are a little more multi-dimensional, complex, and true to life. However, this was an enjoyable, well-written book. Four stars for Lily Cigar - truly a hidden gem in classic historical fiction!
Dec 07, 2011 Terry rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
What a wonderful, wonderful read! Highly recommended for those who love long, riveting family sagas. This one is definitely going on my keeper shelf for a reread at a later date. What intriguing characterization and amazing descriptions. I felt like I was there with the characters. Can't praise this one enough!
Mar 07, 2011 TJ marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Yep, Karla, you did start something here and now that Misfit jumped on the bandwagon, I guess I best find the book!
elaine m. suda
Heartbreaking and heartwarming

This story proved to be heartwrenching from the beginning and brought me to tears at the end. I thoroughly enjoyed every part of the story. Lily's courage throughout the story was amazing. Despite all the horrible events that took place in her life, she held on and realized her dream. This was truly a great love story.

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“Tears are not to be wasted on what we cannot help, Lily. If you must be brave, then be as brave as you can.” 0 likes
“The coin rattled and clanged with a noise beyond its size or worth as Lily dropped it down the slot.” 0 likes
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