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(Freya Wyley #1)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  720 ratings  ·  106 reviews
London, May 1945. Freya Wyley, twenty, meets Nancy Holdaway, eighteen, amid the wild celebrations of VE Day, the prelude to a devoted and competitive friendship that will endure on and off for the next two decades. Freya, wilful, ambitious, outspoken, pursues a career in newspapers which the chauvinism of Fleet Street and her own impatience conspire to thwart, while Nancy, ...more
Hardcover, 464 pages
Published March 3rd 2016 by Jonathan Cape
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Richard Walden Curtain Call is a prequel. It will give you insight into Freya's family and background and add to your delight with Freya.

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4.02  · 
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 ·  720 ratings  ·  106 reviews

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Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This novel begins on VE Day, when Freya Wyley goes to meet some old schoolfriends and ends up celebrating with Nancy Holdaway, who had just tagged along with the group. I have not read the author’s previous novel, “Curtain Call,” but this apparently has some characters from that book. However, it certainly read perfectly well as a stand-alone story; although I enjoyed it so much that I am now keen to go back and read the previous book.

Nancy is due to go to Oxford, while Freya had her place defe
Bill Kupersmith
Oct 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved Freya, both the book & the character. The novel is set in a time & place that are my favourites for a historical, England some 60 years back. The late 1940s & early 50s are within my lifetime but just over the horizon. I personally can verify the accuracy only of the last section, which is set in London in 1962, my summer living in the Kangaroo Valley near Earls Court. The book begins in 1945, two girls meet on VE Day & celebrate together & go on to become besties at ...more
Freya is a young woman in the post-war United Kingdom, who managed to get into Oxford University, a very traditional, male-dominated tertiary institution. The war has opened new avenues for women, not that it suddenly became easy.

Freya is beautiful, speaks her mind and goes for what she wants. Her best friend, Nancy, worships her, although Freya turns out not to be such a good friend.

There are some romantic entanglements. Also, males taking advantage of women, and women using their charms to ge
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Anthony Quinn (sadly, not that Anthony Quinn) is also a journalist who shares my enthusiasm for the English writer Patrick Hamilton.

'Freya' is the middle book in a loose trilogy: 'Curtain Call', 'Freya' and 'Eureka'. I recently read, and thoroughly enjoyed, 'Curtain Call' and so was keen to continue through the trilogy.

'Curtain Call', set in the 1930s, introduces us to a society portrait painter named Stephen Wyley. It is his daughter, the eponymous Freya, who takes centre stage here, starting
Sandra Danby
Mar 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
When I finished reading ‘Freya’ I wanted to shout out to everyone around me to read it. Why? It is a story of friendship and love, truth and honesty, loyalty and betrayal. Anthony Quinn captures Freya immaculately – he seems to intuit so much women’s stuff so well – so much better than other male novelists recently writing from a female point of view. It is such a refreshing read, I hope it sells loads and wins loads. It deserves it. If you can, read it next.
‘Freya’ is the story of Freya Wyley f
Mar 06, 2016 rated it it was ok
The best thing about this, Anthony Quinn's fifth novel is its unsympathetic protagonist. Freya Wyley, (twenty at the commencement of the novel and the end of World War 2, forty or so at the end of the story), is bold, rude, devious, suspicious and smug. She lacks insight and never learns. After repeatedly wrecking lunches, parties and work meetings with outbursts of vituperative personal abuse and being called to account time and time again, "her habitual response to criticism was one of airy in ...more
Rosemary Atwell
Mar 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Anthony Quinn’s stunningly compelling writing really shines in this fictional recreation of postwar London between 1945 and 1962. Even some of the characters are drawn from life (Rebecca West, Ken Tynan, James Agate), peopling an extraordinary panorama which documents the changing political,social and cultural mores of the period.

Freya herself is a remarkable creation (although perhaps slightly more modern than her timeline suggests) and Quinn deftly provides a seamless balance of historical res
David Lowther
Sep 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Freya is Anthony Quinn's fifth novel and shares but two things with the previous four; it's period fiction and it's brilliant.

I must confess that I was beginning to find the opening Oxford based Evelyn Waugh type stuff a little tedious but I quickly realised that it was essential to fully understanding the core of the novel as well as serving as an introduction to the characters.

Freya was set, mostly in London, when I was growing up and Quinn captures the post-war austerity and the coming of the
Jaclyn Crupi
Apr 09, 2016 rated it liked it
I liked this book without loving it. Found it far too long and the long descriptions tedious at times. But Freya is a gem of a character! I loved her wit and how awful she could be. She's a complex and beautifully drawn character, as is Nancy. I've never read a female friendship as well written by a male author. The dialogue was divine. Lots of historical context and markers but a few times where I felt Quinn was desperate to include all his research.
Verity W
Mar 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
***Copy from NetGalley in return for an honest review****

I'm quite confused about this book. I liked Quinn's last book Curtain Call - and was interested in the idea of this - particularly as it's tangentially connected to the characters in Curtain Call. That last book was a murder mystery (if quite a literary fiction-y one) and this definitely is literary fiction, or wants to be.

It is a coming of age story that starts at the end of the war and goes through until the 1960s and covers a lot of th
Sep 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Freya is a wonderful and dynamic character (even if not always entirely likeable) and I'm a sucker for a book that follows decades of female friendship. Nancy, although less feisty, is certainly a character with depth. In many ways, this book succeeded in conveying the depth of Freya and Nancy's friendship, but in other ways the nuances didn't ring quite true.
Joy  Finlayson
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Freya is a character-rich novel that is so certain of its place in time that I was compelled to keep reading at every moment I had. Beginning on VE Day, when Freya meets Nancy at the celebrations, a friendship, with its highs and lows, spans the length of the story. Sub-plots involving the death of a model whom Freya has confided in and the outing of a gay MP whom Freya once had dreams of courting bring the novel’s era to the fore. Women’s rights, the impact of the war, and the continued crimina ...more
Nov 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook, ok
A bit of a rambling love story mixed with revenge.
Jun 17, 2017 rated it liked it
There was something about this book that was really strange. It was good and I did enjoy it but some of the writing felt /so/ smug and pretentious that it kept on making me laugh at it, it was like the author was really aware of how good he was and was really pleased with himself; obviously this might not be true but it's just the impression I've got. On the other hand, Freya/Nancy!!! I was quite annoyed with it because from like, their opening scene I was like oh my god, they're so in love but ...more
Apr 15, 2018 rated it liked it
Three stars are for the book with exception of the entire final section. It seemed tacked on, unnecessary, introduced new characters and issues too late in the novel. Of course, the story needed to have an ending, but I would prefer a summarizing epilogue rather than the drawn-out last section.

From the first page (until final section) I was entertained by the characters, dialog, and surprising yet authentic plot twists. Although entertained, I kept wondering what the story is really about: a yo
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Solid 4. Loved the era in which the novel is set; begins with VE Day when Freya meets Nancy and they become lifelong friends. The writing propelled me forward. I did not like Freya at all nor did I care for the ending. The events of the era fascinated me. Also, this book dealt with news reporting and its power to propel journalists forward or not; AND the power to destroy the subjects of these journalistic articles or NOT!
Timely, no?
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this big well written historical read, mostly character driven, revolving around friendship and all it entails. This book reminded me of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan series in writing and storytelling style.
Aug 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Like Elena Ferrante in North London, with the caustic, difficult woman as lead character. Loved it.
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most consistent author I’ve read in a long time. Writes women very well.
Jill Meyer
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
British author Anthony Quinn's work is just becoming noticed in the United States.On Amazon/US, his books are listed as available in ebook form, but not "currently for sale". I've had to buy them in print form from Amazon/UK. (I sure hope we can start buying British ebooks soon. It'll save me a fortune!)

Quinn's first book I read was "Curtain Call". Set in London in 1936, it was a murder mystery that also had excellent character development. Some of its characters, portrait painter Stephen Wyley,
Breakaway Reviewers
Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A changing society seen through the eyes of an independent woman

Freya Wyley is such an intriguing character - passionate, loyal, smart, outspoken, brave but also reckless, tactless and slow to forgive. However, any flaws just serve to portray her as a whole person. She is a feminist long before the word was coined and she boldly wades into the male dominated world of journalism. She has a shouting match with her superior when she discovers her junior male colleague is being paid more. She marche
Deb Comerford
Apr 28, 2016 rated it liked it
I'm still reading Freya but I don't know why. Perhaps like all the characters I'm under Freya's spell - she is fun with her wit, swearing, saying it how it is! This is not my usual narrative love mostly because it lacks a narrative. The story is Freya's life and so it is more of a character study than a grab-you-by-the-heart story. And yet unlike most novels that delve into characters as they develop and grow, I still don't feel like I know Freya. Ok so Freya is not my favourite type of novel bu ...more
Mar 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
It took me till I finished reading this to decide that yes I enjoyed this book very much. Written during an interesting period of time in London, Quinn's writing of the friendship between Freya and Nancy was beautiful, touching and believable. I enjoyed all characters and the author did an excellent job in putting his time and efforts into developing the more interesting ones.
The only character I had a difficult time liking (till the final third of the story that is) was Freya herself. Why is i
Mar 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I finished reading Freya by Anthony Quinn at 3am this morning, and the reason why is quite simple; it reached the stage of the story where I couldn't bear to put it down and go to sleep without knowing how it ended.

The start was nostalgic and wonderfully so.. Freya was 20 and it was VE Day, she had come home to celebrate after serving in the Wrens during the war. London hadn't even begun rebuilding, but that day was when the building blocks of the rest of Freya's life were laid.

It's not often I
Dec 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a wonderful immersive book which follows one character, Freya Wyley, from VE Day in 1945, when she meets Nancy, who will become her best friend, through to the 1960s. It focuses on the ups and downs of their friendship, which is waylaid by a love triangle involving their fellow student at Oxford, Robert. Freya becomes a journalist, despite the sexist attitudes she has to confront, and Nancy becomes an novelist. The two have very different personalities - Freya is headstrong and outspoken ...more
Apr 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
I wont go over the storyline which is given in many other reviews. Simply put, Freya is a great story with excellent characterisation. I really liked the character of Freya and, though many reviewers comment that she is totally unselfaware, I feel she knows herself quite well and is both unwilling and unable to change. I say, good on her. She is true to herself. I'd be very happy to have her as my friend. The other character I liked, though we only see her briefly, is Chrissy. Such a fragile, m ...more
Roman Clodia
Jun 22, 2016 rated it liked it
This is an interesting retrospective of the years between 1945-1965 seen through the eyes of two young women. Quinn is clearly empathic to the struggle for female agency and independence but there are times where this feels a little self-conscious, especially in the contrasts between the women at its heart.

That said, this paints an energetic picture of social change and captures the cultural leap from a post-war world to something recognizably 'modern'.

For me, Quinn has never quite recaptured th
Ann Short
Feb 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed Freya and was sorry when it ended. Set immediately after the Second World War it tells the story of Freya who after serving as a wren is unsure whether to take up her place at university as she feels it is too frivolous. The story really gives a feel of the frustration women felt after serving during the war and then being expected to forget their ambitions in peace time. I had never read anything by Anthony Quinn previously, however as this is one of the best books I have r ...more
Mari LivTollefsonCarlson
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Anthony Quinn’s Freya Wyley is wiley, provocative, alluring, sexy, as well as “a right good chap” (119); she promises to become all of the above and more. Through her relationships and writing career, she forges a life all her own. She is, simply, Freya.
VE Day celebration in London sets the hopeful tone of the beginning of the novel, where Freya becomes best friends with Nancy Holdaway, with whom she spends the night drinking and dancing. To Freya’s boxing, swearing, out-spokenness, Nancy is de
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
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