Misfit's Reviews > Lily Cigar

Lily Cigar by Tom Murphy
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Mar 18, 11

bookshelves: favorites, read-and-keep-for-a-reread, big-fat-sagas, california
Read from March 03 to 06, 2011

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 anything to get in, including selling their daughter off to a perverted English lord.

Lily works hard and resists all temptations to evil thrown in her path, that is until she's seduced by the Wallingford's younger son Jack, although it's his best friend Brooks Chaffee who sets her heart afire. No surprise, but Lily eventually turns up pregnant and the Wallingfords give her a big check and passage to San Francisco with the promise of employment in their emporium there. Not everything is smooth sailing, and let's just say a few unexpected things happen upon arrival,

"The streets of San Francisco were paved with mud and broken dreams, and the gutters were just waiting, hungrily, yawning and gaping for the likes of Lily Malone!"

With a baby to feed and the cheap Chinese labor taking up all the menial jobs, Lily has little choice but to join the world's oldest profession - although her friend Sophie Delage has the smarts to turn Lily into the most sought after, highest priced whore in the city - Lily Cigar. Successful she may be, but Lily is not one to accept her lot in life, and she dreams of making enough money to start a better life in the country where she can live quietly with her daughter. Now you know there's a whole lot more to it than that, but I'm not going to spill the beans - read it for yourself. Lily faces a lot of ups and downs and challenges in her long life, and the greatest of all during the 1906 earthquake (sniff). Through it all she keeps true to her pure and honest nature, and always the good Irish Catholic girl at heart.

"She had knowingly sinned and been paid for it. God hadn't struck her dead, and if the angels were weeping for her, Lily could not hear them."

Don't let that scare you off though, Lily is not the irritating Pollyanna that you might think. The author's writing is excellent and very lyrical at times, somewhat surprising for a male author,

"...the fires that burned in him were bright pure fires that did not burn but only made a new alchemy of love in whose dear crucible dark dreams and secrets were magically transformed into a new and golden thing, a strong and happy cage of love that promised to hold them both, together, always."

Sigh. And don't you just want to know who the man is who finally captures Lily's heart? Or rather, she captures his wounded heart. I loved loved loved this book, and it's an absolute must read for fans of big fat sagas. Lily's story hooked me from the get-go and I couldn't stop turning the pages until it was over. Don't let the lurid cover or the prostitute angle scare you off either, any sex in this book is very very tame, especially by today's standards. Out of print, but well worth hunting down and don't forget to check your library - mine had a copy.
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Reading Progress

03/03/2011 page 22
4.0% "Ten year old Lily and Fergus are orphaned on their mother's death. Things look grim... (Michele, you need to ILL this if PC doesn't have it)"
03/04/2011 page 101
17.0% "Lily starts her new life as a between stairs maid.

This. Is. Good." 15 comments
03/05/2011 page 178
30.0% "Hmmm, will Brooks fall for the charming, mysterious Caroline?" 3 comments
03/05/2011 page 212
35.0% "Lily prepares to sail to California. Why do I suspect it won't be all smooth sailing ahead?" 5 comments
03/05/2011 page 213
36.0% ""The fact that I would make any decent girl the most miserable husband on earth fails to deter them one inch, even as it failed to deter my sainted mother. It's a hunting expedition, don't you know, and whoever comes back with the biggest trophies is immediately superior to everyone who doesn't fare so well."" 3 comments
03/05/2011 page 217
36.0% ""For the cab was heading into tomorrow, and all the rest of her tomorrows, and it couldn't get there soon enough to suit Mrs. Fergus Malone, of san Francisco, California, USA.""
03/05/2011 page 241
40.0% "Oh, so Caroline had an accident when she was twelve and broke her hymen. Why is it Brooks is the only one infatuated enough to believe it?" 1 comment
03/05/2011 page 246
41.0% "A bit of a change in the weather after Cape Horn "
03/05/2011 page 255
43.0% ""Marianne smiled, Marianne glittered, Marianne was charming, but there was something disturbing about Jack's sister, a new hardness, a sharp edge of desperation that hadn't been a part of the girl Brooks remembered from less than two years ago in New York."
03/05/2011 page 263
44.0% ""It was three days before lily discovered that she was a guest in a whorehouse."" 6 comments
03/05/2011 page 273
46.0% "Oh, it's starting to look like the Wallingfords have had a change of fortune. Hmmmm."
03/05/2011 page 280
47.0% ""The streets of San Francisco were paved with mud and broken dreams, and the gutters were just waiting, hungrily, yawning and gaping for the likes of Lily Malone!"" 3 comments
03/05/2011 page 309
52.0% ""For all at once she knew just how to make them pay, and pay they would!" You go Lily!" 2 comments
03/05/2011 page 332
55.0% ""She had knowingly sinned and been paid for it. God hadn't struck her dead, and if the angels were weeping for her, Lily could not hear them."" 2 comments
03/06/2011 page 443
74.0% ""The rebel bullet that destroyed his kneecap was nothing at all compared to the casual, vulgar, greedy means Caroline had chosen to shatter his heart."" 3 comments
03/06/2011 page 463
77.0% "A broken hearted Brooks heads west to California. I hope I hope I hope I hope I hope." 2 comments
03/06/2011 page 503
84.0% ""...the fires that burned in him were bright pure fires that did not burn but only made a new alchemy of love in whose dear crucible dark dreams and secrets were magically transformed into a new and golden thing, a strong and happy cage of love that promised to hold them both, together, always." This, from a male author! Wow." 5 comments
03/06/2011 page 599
100.0% ""What I would not give to see the expression on dear Mamie's face were she here today!" Yep." 2 comments
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Comments (showing 1-42 of 42) (42 new)

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Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) Sooooo glad you liked it. :-)

I loved the amount of detail in it - not too much, but there was enough to really get an image of SF and the environs, as well as the different parts of NYC.


Misfit Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: "Sooooo glad you liked it. :-)

I loved the amount of detail in it - not too much, but there was enough to really get an image of SF and the environs, as well as the different parts of NYC."


I agree, it's very hard for an author to get the details in without clubbing the reader over the head at the same time. Rarely to I go off sending book rec's on GR to most of my known friends :)


message 3: by Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) (last edited Mar 06, 2011 02:12PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) Oh, one thought that I had from the moment I opened the package and saw the cover.....

KUDOS FOR THE ACCURATE HAIR STYLE!!!! SAUSAGE RINGLETS!

I am soooooooooooooooooooooooo sick of seeing the current in-fashion hair extension look on so many covers ranging from medieval to Victorian. It's supposed to be HISTORICAL stuff, not 2011 Red Carpet Hollywood.


Elli It is certainly on my "to read" list.


message 5: by Jill (new)

Jill Fantastic review Misfit! I can't wait for my copy to arrive. In 4-6 weeks. grrrrr.

However, are you sure 'Tom Murphy' is male? Not a pseudo for a female writer?


message 6: by Isis (new)

Isis Whoa, that is kinda spooky. My cousin just had a baby and for the longest time was thinking of naming her Lily Malone (the father's surname is Malone). She ended up calling her Lexi Malone at the last minute though. Lol, either way I still think the poor kid sounds like she's straight out of a 1930's musical.


Misfit @ Karla - agree about the covers. I did have to chuckle at the ringletts I saw on the last year's rerelease of The Brothers of Gwynedd. Lol


@ Jill and Elli, this is a definite winner and I almost want to pick it up for another read. It's that good. Sorry the wait will be so long Jill.

Beth, woohoo. That's a bit too coincidental.


Misfit Jill, about the author there's a very brief blurb in the back,

"Tom Murphy is a vice-president of the New York advertising company, Bozell & Jacobs. His previous novels are BALLET! and ASPEN INCIDENT.


Elli My copy is on order at Amazon, and along with another book, I'm anxiously waiting for it to arrive.


Misfit Karla, I think we started something :)


Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) As long as the OP prices never go thru the roof!


Misfit Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: "As long as the OP prices never go thru the roof!"

Yep, but the only concern would be if there's an unlimited supply of them drugging the marketplace or are those listed it? Libraries do have this though fortunately.

This deserves another run at life.


message 13: by Elli (new) - rated it 3 stars

Elli My 26 cents copy of Lily Cigar is on the way through Amazon books. Postage is more, but I got a couple other things, too.


Misfit I hear postage to OZ is outrageous.


message 15: by Isis (new)

Isis Eeek, don't Australians have their own Amazon? After all, we Brits have Amazon UK, and we only pay shipping costs within the country... I'm presuming for the OZ costs to be so extortionate they must not have their own Amazon and they must have to order it from Amazon.com in the States?


Misfit From what's been mentioned, there is no Super Saver shipping to OZ and they don't have their own Amazon. Some use the Book Depository as they do have free shipping but I hear they bait and switch on occasion. I've never used them.

Apparently its cheaper to use Book Depository than to purchase books in the stores as they're so expensive there because of the shipping.

Elli, Marg, Jill and anyone else jump in a comment and/or correct me if I have it wrong.

Laura's in Brazil and has the same problem, which is why she uses bookmooch a lot to swap books.


Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) Thriftbooks has cheaper shipping for non-US addresses, by the prices of the books are usually higher, so it usually evens itself out. (i.e., the 1 copy there of Lily Cigar is $4.23 + $4.99 s/h).


message 18: by Marg (new)

Marg No, there is no Amazon Australia.

It is definitely cheaper to buy books from Book Depository than it is to buy a book from a book store here.

For example, if I was to choose a new release book at the moment like say, The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown, I can pay $21.76 from Book Depository US (with no shipping charges) or I can pay $39.95 from Borders (no shipping) and same at Angus and Robertson (with an additional $6.00 shipping).

That's just one example, but you name a book and that will pretty much be the outcome.

The question of why books are so expensive here is one that I have never seen answered simply. There are a number of factors including the fact that our publishers aren't allowed to import books, the fact that there are taxes to be paid on books if you buy them here, and because the Australian publishers like to tell us that their books are much better quality in terms of the physical book than many books from other countries are and that therefore adds to the cost. I am pretty sure that last one is BS though.


Misfit Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) wrote: "Thriftbooks has cheaper shipping for non-US addresses, by the prices of the books are usually higher, so it usually evens itself out. (i.e., the 1 copy there of Lily Cigar is $4.23 + $4.99 s/h)."

I have used Thrift books in the past and been very pleased with their service. Another plus for me, is most (but not all) of their inventory is local so even snail mail comes fairly quickly.


message 20: by Isis (new)

Isis Wow. $39.95 Australian dollars is like, £24 here in the UK! For an expensive, newly released hardback in this country (just picked up from your local book store, so no shipping) would be like £19.99 in our money. And on Amazon UK I can usually find hardbacks for about £12 instead of £19, and paperbacks for £7 or £6 or sometimes less... and I always choose Super Saver Free Delivery, unless it's a book I really want and Amazon doesn't sell it in which case I have to pay shipping, but I always pick the cheapest one!


message 21: by Jill (new)

Jill Ditto on what Marg said.
Shipping is the big killer.

For new books the best site is The Book Depository, either the U.S. or U.K. depending on our dollar.

The best for used books is Better World Books, which has just introduced free shipping worldwide.

My biggest beef is the lack of e-books available here, especially the new releases. Zosia reckons only around 70% are available here and I think that's pretty spot-on.


message 22: by Elli (new) - rated it 3 stars

Elli Re: Lily's Cigar. The book is here. A very few are due back at the library and I'll be doing them first, but the book is here and I'm looking forward to sitting down and digging in!


Misfit Elli wrote: "Re: Lily's Cigar. The book is here. A very few are due back at the library and I'll be doing them first, but the book is here and I'm looking forward to sitting down and digging in!"

Happy reading.


Misfit Pat, congrats and let's get the word out about the bargain copy. I did find an old MMPB out here for my keeper shelf, but let's see who the lucky winnier is here.

PS, happy reading.


message 25: by Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) (last edited Aug 13, 2011 12:37PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) I got it. Now I can lend it to my sister and have my own copy forevah.

Either they didn't look at the other prices or they actually had a conscience.


Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) Don't normally like hardcovers, but I can deal for $10. :P


Misfit I felt guilty when I found a used copy local for $3 when everyone else wanted it, but I wanted a keeper copy as well. It seems prices are going down, just looked at Abe and one is listed for $28.


Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) Well, it's about time! Absurd.

Yeah, I feel bad too, grabbing it right now. Hopefully I don't get hated on. :P


Misfit I had an email out to Jerelyn. By the time she clicked all she saw a $70 book and told me she didn't want it that bad :D


Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) She's trustworthy, so I'll ask if she wants it on loan. :P


Misfit Cool. I loaned my copy to Michele with no hurry to return. We'll get everyone taken care of sooner or later.


message 32: by Misfit (last edited Aug 13, 2011 04:17PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Misfit Unbelievable. Holly found another $10 copy at Alibrus and mentioned it at Paperbackswap and it's already done. It did appear to be a different seller than the Amazon one.

Publishers, wherefore art thou? Please rerelease this gem!


Misfit Have faith, prices are dropping. A seller who listed it on Abe for about $30 just dropped the list price on Amazon to $21.


message 34: by Isis (new)

Isis I just checked it out on Amazon UK and Lily Cigar is available for as little as £8.45 (roughly $13.75). Two used copies on sale for that sum and 1p more... after that though the prices start climbing sharply. Both sellers of the two low priced copies are in the USA so you won't even have to pay extra for shipping costs - go go go!


Misfit I'd be interested to see if ordering through the Amazon UK site would still have UK shipping charges...

Moppet might still be looking for a copy.


Misfit And the $21 HB listed on Amazon is now gone. Amazing.


Sherron Is anyone still looking for this? I found a hard back copy at the library sale the other day.


message 38: by Tara (new)

Tara Chevrestt I balked at this when you first read it because dang, it's so long, but today I found it mentioned in an article about Sadie Farrell and that's an interesting woman in history. I've got it on my PBS wishlist now.


Misfit Tara wrote: "I balked at this when you first read it because dang, it's so long, but today I found it mentioned in an article about Sadie Farrell and that's an interesting woman in history. I've got it on my PB..."

Good luck getting it. Is there a link to the article you read?


message 40: by Tara (new)

Tara Chevrestt It was on Wiki, believe it or not. The woman I was reading about was mentioned in a book I just finished reading... but I guess she has a part in this book. She was a bad lady, but aren't they the most interesting? LOL

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sadie_Fa...


message 41: by Tara (new)

Tara Chevrestt Sadie is referenced in several historical novels, most notably, J. T. Edson's Law of the Gun (1968), Tom Murphy's Lily Cigar (1979), Bart Sheldon's Ruby Sweetwater and the Ringo Kid (1981) and Thomas J. Fleming's A Passionate Girl (2003).

I was looking at APG, but it has poor reviews/ratings on here. However, it's supposed to feature a lot of women from Five Points...but I'm not sure I want to chance it. This one seems a safer bet.


Misfit From what I can recall of the first of the book, I suspect Sadie's appearance is pretty brief in Lily Cigar.


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