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The Linen Queen

3.72  ·  Rating Details ·  833 Ratings  ·  135 Reviews
Abandoned by her father and neglected by her self-centered, unstable mother, Sheila McGee cannot wait to escape the drudgery of her mill village life in Northern Ireland. Her classic Irish beauty helps her win the 1941 Linen Queen competition, and the prize money that goes with it finally gives her the opportunity she's been dreaming of. But Sheila does not count on the im ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 2nd 2011 by Center Street (first published January 1st 2011)
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Scraping by on a linen worker's wages is not the kind of life that Sheila plans on living for much longer. Her grandest wish is to escape from Ireland as soon as possible, away from her demanding and unappreciative mother and the ghost of the father that left when she was a child. Her story begins on the cusp of the second World War in a small village in Northern Ireland. Confident and aware of her good looks, she hopes to be chosen as the Linen Queen so she can get her chance on the prize money
Apr 10, 2012 Denise rated it really liked it
This story takes place in the same area of Northern Ireland as the author's first novel, The Yellow House. The heroine, Sheila McGee is an unhappy teen, working in the linen mill and living with her ungrateful, unstable mother and her rather unlikeable uncle and aunt. The backdrop is the early years of World War II. Northern Ireland, which is part of Great Britain, is deeply involved in the war. The Free State, is a neutral country and with anti-British passions and bitterness running extremely ...more
Heather McCubbin
Mar 28, 2013 Heather McCubbin rated it it was ok
I was very excited to read this one after The Yellow House but from the first few chapters, I knew it was going to be drastically different. The similarities between the books are the location, the occupation of the main character (Sheila) and the fact that Eileen, from the previous book, makes an appearance.
I didn't like the main character. At all. She was vain, stuck up, self centered and self righteous. I rarely have read books where that is the main character throughout the entire book. He
J.S. Dunn
May 19, 2016 J.S. Dunn rated it liked it
Shelves: ireland
As is the case with the prior, debut novel The Yellow House, this tale suffered a hard edit ---- possibly from a nun at a convent school. It does have more authentic language including cursing, and at times has the hint of a narrative voice that rings true and entices one to keep plodding along.

But no, by the concluding pages, overall one feels duped. This novel turned out to be a romance after all, and it's been edited with an iron fist [steamroller?] to suit the narrow tastes of the bourgeoisi
Lori Twichell
Oct 22, 2013 Lori Twichell rated it really liked it
As a fan of The Yellow House, Falvey’s previous novel, I was ready for The Linen Queen. This did not disappoint. Falvey does not coddle her characters nor does she try to whitewash life for her readers. As disappointing, harsh and painful as life is, she paints it with panache and style so gritty that we can easily imagine ourselves in her shoes.
With most heroines in a love story, we like them and we want them to succeed. With Sheila, it’s not always so black and white. She does things that most
Lydia Presley
Jun 27, 2011 Lydia Presley rated it really liked it
It feels kind of strange, but this book reminded me quite a bit of two classics - Emma by Jane Austen and Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. So what do all these books have in common, you might ask? Well... I don't know about you, but Emma, Scarlett and Sheila are not very easy characters to like ... at first.

In The Linen Queen, Sheila struggles with some pretty hard knocks. Her dad is gone, her mom is crazy, her aunt super pious and her uncle a pervert. She works hard, yet sees no real be
Wendy Hines
Jun 01, 2013 Wendy Hines rated it liked it
The Linen Queen is a historical fiction novel with much going for it. The background of Ireland is beautifully rendered, as well as the rough living in that timeframe. You want to cheer for Shelia when she wins the pageant, because now she can escape her desolute life, but really, when there is a war, is any particular place better than the other?

When the soldiers set up camp in her village, Sheila is determined to snag an officer -- she sees it as her ticket out of that place. She sets her sig
Jul 29, 2011 Meg rated it it was ok
I didn't expect too much from this book, as The Yellow House was not my favorite. I had already gotten it out at the library however, and thought I'd give it a try.

Characters...they are important to me. I have to find a redeeming quality. I just have to! Or else it isn't worth it. They don't have to be perfect, or even good, just redeemable in some way. The characters in the Linen Queen were selfish and unlikable. I mean come on! If you're going to be unlikeable, at least be funny or charming w
Jan 22, 2011 Pearl rated it liked it
A young woman working in an Irish cloth factory in the early days of WWII sees a chance of escaping her stifling life by becoming the "Linen Queen," basically a beauty queen for Irish mill girls. She wins, but because of the war she can't just move to a major city like she wanted to, she's still trapped in the small town, with little opportunities and fewer differing opinions. When the American soldiers come into town she meets the man she thinks can take her out of there; he also happens to be ...more
Anita Johnson
May 11, 2012 Anita Johnson rated it really liked it
Beautiful, 18-year-old Sheila McGee works in a linen mill in Northern Ireland where she lives with her manic mother, her drunken uncle and sanctimonious aunt. Her only desire in life is to flee the country as soon as humanly possible. World War II breaks out and everything changes for her, most importantly her own character and values. While the story is set in a dreary Irish mill town controlled by the British Crown and occupied by some pretty horrible characters, the landscape is beautiful and ...more
Ricki Treleaven
Mar 09, 2013 Ricki Treleaven rated it it was amazing
This week I read The Linen Queen by Patricia Falvey. I must say that I actually liked this book better than The Yellow House!

Sheila McGee is beautiful, vapid, and determined to escape her life as a linen mill worker in Northern Ireland. She lives a miserable existence with her crazy, unstable mother in her pious aunt and alcoholic uncle's home. Sheila's father had abandoned her and her mother because he could no longer tolerate her mother's crazy mood swings. When she is chosen as a contestant
Holly Weiss
Feb 11, 2011 Holly Weiss rated it liked it
“The real prize was my discovery of the raw power of beauty.” So states Sheila McGee after being crowned The Linen Queen of a small Irish mill town in the shadow of World War II.

Appropriately told in the first person from self-centered Sheila’s viewpoint, The Linen Queen takes us through the trials and tribulations of Sheila’s thwarted attempts to use her prize money to escape from Ireland in search of a grander lifestyle. Her inability to decide between two men, childhood friend, Gavin O’Rourk
Feb 11, 2011 Renee rated it liked it
On the edge of World War II, Sheila McGee longs to escape life as a mill girl in the small village in County Armagh, Ireland. With no money of her own and an unstable mother, she has little hope of escape. The annual Linen Queen competition may be her last and only chance to leave and when she unexpectedly wins the competition things begin to look up. That one glimmer of hope is dashed however by news of the Belfast Blitz that brings Allied troops to the area but makes travel nearly impossible. ...more
Nov 06, 2012 Joanne rated it liked it
We are given young Sheila's story as World War II gets closer to her small village in Ireland. Sheila has big dreams of leaving her little town as soon as she gets enough funds together, but she doesn't expect the complications that will arise when she tries to leave now that the war is at her back door. I think I will start off by telling you that this book fell just a bit short for me.

Although Sheila finds it next to impossible to leave the village, once she wins the Linen Queen competition, c
Kathleen Kelly
Feb 16, 2011 Kathleen Kelly rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished
The Linen Queen by Patricia Falvey is the second book by the author that is located in Ireland. Ms.Falvey's first book was The Yellow House and is an excellent book. I was very excited to read The Linen Queen as I really enjoyed The Yellow House as did my husband and two of my daughter's.

The premise of the story is about Sheila's wish that she be the winner of the 1941 Linen Queen, a competition that involves the linen mills that are in Sheila's area, and in which she works. She hopes to win as
Feb 22, 2011 Readnponder rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won this from the Goodreads "First Reads" program. "Linen Queen" refers to a beauty contest held among the textile mills in Northern Ireland. Sheila McGee, whose father died at sea and whose mother battles what appears to be bipolar disorder, hopes to become the Linen Queen so that she can escape her difficult life working in the mills. She wants to see the world beyond Ireland.

Sheila does win the contest in 1941, but a few weeks later, on the Tuesday after Easter, Belfast is bombed. I did no
Feb 23, 2011 Nancy rated it liked it
Sheila is an Irish beauty wasting her talents in a sewing factory in a small village. She longs to leave the village and live in England where she dreams of better opportunities and marriageable men. Her big break comes when her village hosts a beauty contest and she is crowned the Linen Queen, bestowing two hundred pounds upon the winner. However, her mother wants her money to be handed over while the Great War begins. She discovers that her beauty and money will not be enough to get out of Ire ...more
May 10, 2011 Mandolin rated it really liked it
Left behind by her seafaring father when he escapes his loveless marriage and emotionally abandoned by her selfish mother, Sheila McGee's life in the small Irish village that supports a spinning mill promises nothing but a dreary existence. She's unable to see the beauty of the countryside around her and the valuable treasure she has in her lifelong childhood friend, Gavin. She finds amusement in frequenting the pub and playing off the many village boys who vie for her affection. When she wins t ...more
Alexis Villery
Are you tired of female character leads who are so beautiful and don't know it? All the guys are falling all over them and they never notice. Well no worries here. Sheila is an Irish beauty queen who is aware of her beauty and attempts to use it to move her forward if she has to. But she soon finds that it doesn't always get her where she needs to go...where she dreams of going, especially in a time of war. She must decide whether she will become like her moody and bitter mother or someone else. ...more
Feb 25, 2015 Sheila rated it liked it
Sheila McGee works in a linen factory in Ireland during the early years of WWII. Her father abandoned her and her mother when she was young and they now live with her mother's sister, Kate and her alcoholic husband. Sheila's mother takes all her earnings leaving Sheila with nothing. She desperately wants to leave Ireland for England. She has an opportunity to win a title of Linen Queen plus some prize money when the Linen Queen contest is announced. Although she ends up winning, she discovers it ...more
Feb 19, 2012 Marie rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, history
One of the many things I love about reading: how something can suddenly make you realize there's a whole aspect to the world that you never bothered to think about before.

WWII is one of my pet eras of history - I can't give you dates for the battles or name all the generals or anything, but as far as history goes, it's the period I've done the most reading on, and I've got a pretty good handle on what it was like to live through the war - in America, in France, in England, Poland, Germany ...

May 01, 2011 Tequila rated it it was amazing
The nursery rhyme never said what kind of "spice" girls are made of. Patricia Falvey's "The Linen Queen" is the "I Know Why a Caged Bird Sings" for a teenage garment worker living and working in Northern Ireland during World War II. Like Maya Angelou's seminal autobiography, "The Linen Queen" acknowledges that girls can be angry and rebellious, lashing out in social unacceptable ways in awkward places - in short, that girls are human and that caged birds come in all colors and sizes. I read Ange ...more
Judi/Judith Riddle
Aug 13, 2011 Judi/Judith Riddle rated it it was amazing
Sheila McGee is self centered, also beautiful and she lives in a dead end situation in Northern Ireland. She works at a dreary job in a linen mill and even though she wins the title and crown of The Linen Queen, in a contest, she cannot wait for the opportunity to escape to England where she thinks life will be so much better…and she has a plan. When England enters WWII, bringing Northern Ireland along with it, American soldiers come to help and she devises a way to get a one to marry her so tha ...more
Aug 04, 2011 Heidi rated it really liked it
This book is Patricia's Falvey's new Irish Historical Novel. It takes place in the same town as "Yellow House" 40 or so years later. Sheila McGee, like her previous protagonist is a mill worker in Northern Ireland, but this time the backdrop is the start of World War II. Her mother is a jerk, her father abandoned her at aged 10 and she desperately wants to get out of Ireland. What she doesn't realize is that it's not Ireland she hates but her situation in Ireland. She signs up for the 'Linen Que ...more
Jenna (JennaHack)
Apr 16, 2012 Jenna (JennaHack) rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012-books
I really liked this book. At first, it was hard for me to get into it. I don't know what it was...I just didn't have a hard time putting it down. Then, because I knew I needed to finish it before having to take it back to the library, I delved in and really became captured by the story.

The main character, Sheila, even though she was pretty self-centered at first, you couldn't help but like her. It was a lovely story seeing her grow up and change and really become a woman. I wasn't expecting this
Betty Silvia
Jun 26, 2015 Betty Silvia rated it it was amazing
I LOVE books about young girls raised in unusual circumstances, who have to overcome great obstacles in order to be happy. This book did not disappoint! While the I knew the setting was in Ireland, the historical element of WWII was unexpected, so I was eager to learn more about the Belfast Blitz of 1941 and how Hitler's war affected Ireland.

The author, Patricia Falvey, did an excellent job of describing the arrival of the Yanks into Shelia's small community. Her description of their rowdy ways
Deborah Robb
Dec 02, 2015 Deborah Robb rated it really liked it
This was a great read. It's the story of Sheila McGee who cannot wait to leave Ireland and start a new life. Her dad had left her and her mom and they now live with her Aunt and Uncle. Her mom is a self-centered, unstable mom. The story opens with Sheila dreaming of winning the 1941 Linen Queen competition (she works in a mill and they have the competition every year). Sheila wins the competition which provides her with prize money to escape Ireland. However, before she can make her escape, Worl ...more
Kate Quinn
Dec 16, 2011 Kate Quinn rated it really liked it
Sheila was born poor and pretty in a backwater Irish village, and she wants out by any means necessary. Her first attempt at escape is a beauty contest where she is named the local textile factory's linen queen, but before she can take her prize money and flee, World War II arrives with a bang. Sheila then sets her sights on marriage to an American soldier (any American soldier will do) for a ticket to the United States, but war and love will change her despite all her best efforts. Sheila is a ...more
Sep 02, 2011 Jodi rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: women
Shelves: world-war-ii
A good book set in Ireland during World War II. The main character, Shelia, desperately wants to escape her dismal life in a linen factory and living with her selfish mother. However, circumstances prevent her from fleeing throughout the book. She falls in love with an American soldier, Joel, but their relationship isn't meant to be.........instead she ends up with the man she least expected to love.

I truly hated how Patsy was treated at the hospital when her baby was ready to be born. Surely th
Jul 07, 2011 Agnes rated it liked it
Didn't know much about Irish participation in WWII. This novel helped with historical references, especially as to Irish support of Hitler and importation of guns to IRA.

Sheila becomes the Linen Queen, representing the mills of Northern Ireland, in 1941 and keeps title until 1944. This novel tells of her coming of age following a rather cold childhood due to abandonment of mother and daughter by captain father.

Sheila has a long-time friend in Gavin and then a shorter, but stronger, love relation
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Gwinnett County P...: Ireland in WWII 1 8 Dec 07, 2012 08:12AM  
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Patricia Falvey is an Irish-born writer living in Dallas, Texas. She is the author of the critically acclaimed The Yellow House, and The Linen Queen. Both are historical novels set in Northern Ireland. Her upcoming novel, The Girls of Ennismore, set in the west of Ireland and focusing on the Easter Uprising of 1916, will be published in the U.S. in March, 2017, and is currently available for pre-o ...more
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