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Miss Lily's Lovely Ladies

(Miss Lily's Lovely Ladies #1)

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  820 ratings  ·  90 reviews
Inspired by true events, this is the story of how society's 'lovely ladies' won a war.

Each year at secluded Shillings Hall, in the snow-crisped English countryside, the mysterious Miss Lily draws around her young women selected from Europe's royal and most influential families. Her girls are taught how to captivate a man - and find a potential husband - at a dinner, in a s
Paperback, 528 pages
Published March 27th 2017 by HarperCollins - AU
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  820 ratings  ·  90 reviews

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Dale Harcombe
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Four and a half stars
I have always considered Jackie French one of Australia’s most talented and prolific writers for children. This book for adults is a departure and what great read it is. The story concerns Sophie Higgs daughter of a corned beef empire and takes place in the early nineteen hundreds taking the reader through the years of World War 1. Sophie ends up at Shillings Hall in England to be educated by Miss Lily. Her father expects Sophie will be taught how to be a lady and hold her o
Jeann (Happy Indulgence)
Miss Lily's Lovely Ladies isn't normally a book that I would pick up, but as one of this month's #OZYAY reads, I expanded my reading horizons and loved it!

The book starts off with Sophie, an Australian heiress who dreams of life outside of her corn beef factory inheritance. Set on marrying one of the local country boys, her father ships her off to London to meet an old friend - also an Earl. There she finds herself in residence of Miss Lily, who trains her in the art of charm, persuasion, and t
Jun 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: french-jackie
Reading this story has been rather like following along behind someone, no way of knowing where they (or you) are going...but somehow you do know! I started this book on 27 April this year...put it down, picked it up a couple of books in between the start of it and the end. I have to admit that once I really got into it (past about 80 pages) I just couldn't put it down! Love it and recommend it. ...more
Kate Forsyth
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’ve long been a fan of Jackie French’s historical novels for children, and so I was intrigued when I heard she had written a book for adults. The cover was gorgeous and the blurb told me it was set during World War I, one of my favourite historical periods, and so I bought it to read on my summer holidays.

The novel tells the story of Sophie Higgs, whose father made his fortune making tinned corned beef. When Sophie falls in love with the boy-next-door, her father decides to send her to England
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
In spite of the title, this book is the story of Sophie Higgs who grows up in pre war Australia as the only child of a man whose massive fortune is derived from corned beef. Sophie is very aware that she is popular due to the money and scorned for the corned beef. At 18 she falls in love with the young man next door, in spite of his parents, but not only does her father refuse to allow the marriage, he arranges for her to have a Season in London and be Presented.

Arriving in England, Sophie come
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wow, this book sucked me in in such a slow and steady way, that the one chapter I was going to read before bed turned into 138 pages and I forced myself to put it down to sleep. The story starts quite slowly, Sophie a naive young Australian girl who thinks herself in love. Her father sends her to England to learn to become a lady and enable her to become more accepted into polite society. Though the first half of the book is at a slow and steady pace, it kept me engaged and wanting to keep readi ...more
Sarah Mayor Cox
I probably don’t have to tell you all how much I loved this book do I?
I love, love, love historical fiction - it's probably one of my favourite genres.
Jackie French has once again created strong and interesting characters with lots of twists that I didn't see coming - which I always love.

So much of this book is about innuendo and inference, not only in Sophie learning about the unwritten rules and mechanisms of society, but also in the way French as an author tempts the reader to read between th
Barbara Greaves
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book although it was a bit rushed at the end. But I believe it is going to be, or is now, a series. So Sophie's adventures will continue. It gave a fairly good insight into pre WW 1 aristocratic society and a good insight into the conditions suffered by people in WW1. ...more
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a great read. I always enjoy historical fiction and this was thoroughly engaging. So much so, that I bought part 2 of the trilogy soon after starting this one. Great characterisation, underpinned by meticulous research, this is a riveting read.
Rebecca Altmann
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting read. A study of what it meant to be a lady pre-WW1, and the massive upheaval to the social structures and gender roles as a result of the war.
Jackie French packs a lot of historical information into the pages of every book.
I'm dissapointed that this doesn't contain the copious 'author's notes' that I have become accustomed to with her books.
There will be another two books in the series and I am looking forward to see where she takes the characters and how they cope in a rapidly c
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Despite its length, this book managed to keep me captivated until the end. I really loved this book and I'm so glad I picked it up from my library on a complete impulse. Sophie is from Australia, an heiress to a corned beef empire, who goes to Miss Lily to learn about how to gain power as a woman in a world of men. I really enjoyed seeing Sophie grow and develop as a person to go from the innocent 18-year-old to the woman who marches into a warzone. I loved seeing the different kinds of women an ...more
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Jackie French creates worlds that are very easy to slip into. Who are these people? What is their purpose? Where are their lives going?

The very idea of a secretive, half-hidden network of women running the world via tea, dinner parties, garden strolls and balls is enough to keep me captivated. It gets a little absurd at some moments, which does jolt you out of the book a little, but you easily slip back in. Quick and easy to read, it's entirely satisfying while still leaving me with a few questi
Sam Hayward
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
"Do you really think those women will be content to be "lovely ladies" after the war?"

This book was a masterpiece and it contains SO much. Honestly every second page I have underlined some wisdom.
It is the journey of a woman who truly discovers herself. She is influenced and shaped by those she meets and discovers her own purpose beyond the confinements of society. We are not given characters. Instead, we see characters created, changed, and sometimes even diminished - just as in life.
I confes
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 - 4 stars (the finale tipped it towards the 4 star range)
So... I may have changed my mind about this book, if only due to the last portion. This novel has been an adventure from the beginning. I found I did not like the main character, Sophie, from the onset, but as the novel progressed I found myself liking her more and more. She is a strong character, but I felt within a cast of slightly weak characters - other than Miss Lily, of course. The characterisation of secondary characters was la
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Given the high ratings I was very excited to read this book but was almost immediately disappointed. The story lacked originality and all of the characters fell flat for me, I found they didn’t have much personality. I found the lessons Miss Lily was teaching confusing and wasn’t sure if Jackie believes in modern feminism, but ultimately it just did not interest me, and this is a subject that I love normally love reading about.
Gwen Wilson
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
A highly enjoyable read and an interesting take on WW1 from a woman's perspective. As others have mentioned, it does have a long set-up before we get to the action so settle yourself into the dreamy world of the pre-war debutante for a while. This is the first Jackie French I have read, and her experience shows through on the page. Very beautifully crafted and so well researched and written. ...more
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really loved this book as I read it. I feel like there was a point where this turned from a stand alone book to the first in a series (which it is) and I liked it more before that turning point that after (if that makes sense?) That said, I'm looking forward to reading the next one! ...more
Apr 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
A good read although a little long as it dragged in places.
Jan 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
Miss Lily’s Lovely Ladies follows Sophie Higgs, an Australian girl as she journeys from her homeland in Thuringa to England hoping to escape her legacy of corned beef. The story follows Sophie from the age of 18 to 24, allowing us as the reader to see her grow and adapt as the novel progresses.

There is a reason Jackie French is one of the best Australian authors out there. I mean when the first couple of pages in the book has a quote like, ‘A man doesn’t like to hear fear in a woman’s voice… Fea
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Miss Lily's Lovely Ladies was a surprise package. I bought it a year ago and it's been in my TBR pile until I finally picked it up last week. My goodness! I enjoyed reading this novel.

It's the story of how Sophie Higgs, daughter of a Sydney corned beef manufacturer, travels to England in 1913 to attend "finishing classes" with a friend of her father, Miss Lily, in preparation for her coming out season. The idea being that doing so will make her more socially acceptable back home. But we can see
Nadine Keels
Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Daughter of a wealthy Australian businessman, Sophie Higgs is among a select number of young women invited to Shillings Hall in England. There she receives instructions in etiquette and the power of charm from the mysterious Miss Lily. But with the coming of a world war, the women of Europe will need to find and exert different kinds of strength in Miss Lily's Lovely Ladies by author Jackie French.

Indeed, don't let the lovely book cover and the almost too lovely title give you the wrong impressi
Liz Filleul
Aug 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
Captivating coming-of-age-like novel set immediately before and during World War I. Sophie is an Australian corned beef heiress sent to England for the 'Season' and tutored beforehand on how to be charming and acceptable to English society by the mysterious Miss Lily. Wooed by several suitors, Sophie realises through her war work that the life she thought she wanted will never be enough for her and nor will it be for the other women who helped win the war.

The period detail is excellent and I par
Dec 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jackie French is a very good writer, and the writing itself was really good. The story was just too heavy for me.
I didn't realize this book was going to revolve so heavily around war. I thought it was going to be a much lighter read and it was completely different from what I had pre-conceived.
I am at a place in my life where I want to read light, sweet, happy reads.
I almost didn't finish it, but I was interested enough to want to know what happens to the characters. I did not see the ending c
Hm. This is an odd situation for me. I think Jackie French is a terrific writer, highly engaging and always captures the spirit of Australia.

But I can't quite put my finger on it but there was something really off about this story from the beginning (even though I loved the premise of Sophie being the "corned beef princess" who gets caught up in WW1).

I think once the story moved to England, it became less "true" and just "off". The first part that's set in Australia has a much more grounded feel
Chris Te Lindert
May 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book has been sitting on my shelf waiting for a time to indulge in a book I knew I was going to enjoy. And I did - very much. I have read a number of Jackie French’s books but most of these were written for adolescents and I read them as part of my work in promoting suitable reads to students. Many of those titles, as well as being well-written, were meticulously researched historical titles. This one is for adults but is still gentle despite its well-researched setting of WW1 England and t ...more
This is a fabulous book. Set in 1902-1919 Sophie, a young colonial from Australia travels to England. She stays at a friend of her father's, an Earl, for her session & to learn the power of a woman from Miss Lily.
WWI begins as Sophie is coming of age and her story follows women's support, warefforts & achievements while the majority of men are away defending their country.
Not just about war, it's larely about family, lifelong friends, feminism, compassion and love. Not romance but love.

"Love co
Yolande Heymann
Dec 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book went in directions I didn't expect. Jackie French converted such a nuanced view of the lead up to WWI, different groups reasons for wanting the war or peace, and the complex ways that women were affected by and contributed to the war effort. I appreciated that Sophie Higgs was a complex woman, not just a frustrated debutante wanting more from life than a titled husband and a big house, nor a bleeding heart bent on saving the poor from the plight made by the rich. Sophie was able to ack ...more
Catherine Bell
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This was my first JF novel, Jackie French has long been my garden guru. She has long been a joy in the children's section.
I was captivated. Again.
An easy read, wordwise, but JF delves deep. Exposing history, engaging characters, intriguing storyline. To call JF a genius is not quite right. A wise woman, definitely. She explores humanity, feeds your soul, opens neural pathways without needing to complicate it. True wisdom. JF writes in a way that oozes love. There is joy in the reading, even whe
Patty Killion
Dec 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
4 Stars

A tale of espionage, love and passionate heroism.

A very captivating read that is centered on Sophie Higgs, the young daughter of Australia's king of corned beef. Sophie is sent to England to study with a Miss Lily to be taught how to find a potential husband. For 1914, persuading and charming men was the only true power a woman had. It is from here we begin to follow Sophie Higgs through her life before, during and after the chaos of war as it spreads through Europe and how Sophie uses he
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Jackie is an award-winning writer, wombat negotiator and the Australian Children’s Laureate for 2014-2015. She is regarded as one of Australia’s most popular children’s authors, and writes across all genres - from picture books, history, fantasy, ecology and sci-fi to her much loved historical fiction. In her capacity as Australian Children’s Laureate, ‘Share a Story’ will be the primary philosoph ...more

Other books in the series

Miss Lily's Lovely Ladies (5 books)
  • The Lily and the Rose (Miss Lily's Lovely Ladies, #2)
  • The Lily in the Snow (Miss Lily's Lovely Ladies, #3)
  • Lilies, Lies and Love (Miss Lily Book 4)
  • Legends of the Lost Lilies (Miss Lily, #5)

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Happy Women's History Month! One of the undisputedly good things about modern scholarship is that women’s history is finally getting its due....
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