Kathy Davie's Reviews > No Peace for the Wicked

No Peace for the Wicked by Pip Granger
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's review
May 12, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: history

Fourth in Granger's Soho series, a fictional account of life in Soho (London) in the 1950s, which centers around Bert and Maggie's café. I keep trying to make sense of the title seeing as how one of the main characters is named Peace. All I can come up with is that it's a sort of taunt at Bandy, her family, and Peace's parents when Peace disappears.

The Story
The main story is Liz. Jenny has been dead for over a year and Liz is just beginning to get past her grief. Rosie has continued to visit which has helped both of them. Liz has taken on a job with Freddy the Frock where both Freddy and Antony bolster her ego and take an interest in her love life. For Liz is in love with T.C., Rosie's real father. And T.C. is still in love with Cassie.

And now Peace has run away from school. Fresh from Hong Kong, Peace is a Chinese-English mix and her best friend at school has gone home to Africa on a family emergency and there is no one to watch her back in her very xenophobic boarding school. So she's fled back to Aunt Bandy.

Bandy is unsociable at the best of times and she has no clue how to handle a 16-year-old runaway who refuses to go back to school. And what I love about the neighbors in Soho is how they accept each others' strengths and weaknesses as they rally around to help Peace: Sugar convinces Bandy to let Peace enroll in a neighborhood school while Liz suggests that Peace stay in her guest room and get a Saturday job to earn pin money. Peace's presence helps to fill the hole in Lizzie's heart and, naturally, Bert and Maggie hire Peace to help at the café—particularly fortuitous as we eventually find out that Peace has aspirations in that direction.

With her foundation secure, Peace takes up teenage life and begins spending time with Mrs. Wong's daughter, Bubbles, with dire results.

Bandy is caught up with a new (and very unsavory) bloke and, with her normal unrestrained temperament, lashes out at Peace over the theft of her pearls. In love and angry, Peace flees to a hitherto unknown love which causes panic amongst Peace's friends and family which is when we begin to learn the identity of Peace's parents. Then Peace is kidnapped and all sorts of truths begin to spill out. Ooh, the things we learn about Sugar, Peace and the tongs…

The Characters
Bert, Maggie, and Rosie are minor characters in this installment with brief appearances by Sharky and Cassie. Cassie has faded in and out with her most foremost role in the first book and her nastiest here for Cassie has some major issues besides being Rosie's extremely absent mother. This time, she serves as Liz's nemesis as Liz fights her own attraction to T.C. Bert & Maggie are the angels of the neighborhood with everyone meeting regularly at their cafe. They help everyone including Cassie when they adopt Rosie for their own.

Lizzie is one of the primary characters in this story as we follow her recovery from her daughter's, Jenny, death from leukemia in Widow Ginger; Rosie and Jenny were best friends and schoolmates. Liz had a horrible time of it then and she is receiving her reward in No Peace for the Wicked. Peace is filling the hole in her heart left when Jenny died, her bosses are weaning her off her very cold, Calvinistic upbringing, and T.C. is finding her very attractive.

T. C. has been a policeman in the past three books becoming more and more prominent as the stories progress.

Freddy the Frock runs the business side of his dress establishment while Antony is its creative designer. They take Liz in to help them with the sewing of their garments and discover that she has the most amazing eye for color.

Bandy and Sugar co-own a bar in the neighborhood and they live together but they don't have a romantic relationship. We do learn quite a bit about Sugar's private life in this story. Sugar is a transvestite with a heart of gold while Bandy. Well, Bandy has a tongue like barbed wire…protecting her kind heart.

Peace has been sent to England from Hong Kong for boarding school. The illicit child of a Chinese man and an English woman, Peace has no idea who her parents are or the identity of any family. And Bandy. Well, Bandy tends to lash out first, love later causing Peace to believe that she is unloved and unwanted.

My Take
I didn't find it as compelling as Granger's first three stories, but, still, a very good tale to read. Granger has created a lovely and very colorful community, which has survived World War II and its privations as well as a number of tragedies. Each time, the core group has reached out and cared for someone in need using their carefully-built network to help.

It's an amazing look inside a world of love with a cast of people who are comfortable with their own quirks and desires.

The Cover
The cover is a fuzzy textured pagoda-roofed building with a Chinese lantern. Very appropriate for the catalyst character in this story.

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