Today we’re thrilled to be sharing The Lilac Cadillac, an epic love story at a time of war by Jane Harvey Berrick
“Amazingly beautiful and powerful”
“Heart-wrenching and poignant”
“I have no words to tell you how beautifully this is written. You give the whole war new meaning for those who didn’t live through it. This story is epic.”
“Better tell readers to get that box of tissues out ready”
Two women, two lives, divided by an ocean – and a secret hidden for 75 years. London, 1939, Sylvia marries her sweetheart, Harry, in the days before he’s sent to war. It will be four, long years before she sees him again.
In 2019, Fiona McCloud is struggling to make ends meet in her small Iowa town but has big dreams of a more glamorous life. In private, the plus-size woman fantasizes about being Marilyn Monroe. In reality, she’s a part-time hairdresser and beautician at the Cedars Retirement Village.
Fiona’s favorite resident is 97 year-old Dolly. The world thinks Dolly is disgraceful, with her octogenarian lover and addiction to fast cars.
And then there’s Joe Fox, the sulky and sensual gardener, a Native American with flowing black hair and wary eyes.
When Dolly decides to take a road trip to Las Vegas, she persuades Fiona and Joe to come with her. They don’t know that Dolly has an ulterior motive, or that this journey will change their lives forever.
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Life is a journey. That’s what they say, isn’t it? We’re all traveling toward some unknown destination, not knowing when or where we’ll stop, when we’ll pick up passengers or wave goodbye to others.
We grow up, we grow older, and the direction of the journey changes. Sometimes we choose our path and sometimes our path chooses us. But sometimes, just occasionally, someone else picks a different path for us, and we’re traveling down it before we even realize.
What happened to me is a combination of all these things: two very special people who changed the course of my life. And a large, ugly and uncomfortable car, a lilac-colored Cadillac.
It really was ugly. But I ended up loving it, because … well, it’s a long story.
Family isn’t just the people whose lives we’re born into; family can be the people we meet along the road on our life-journey.
What a great story with a dual timeline! This book is all about change and evolution. It’s also about defining yourself and finding your roots, be it in your family or friends.
I confess that, as it’s often the case in dual timeline stories, I had a preference …for the past!
The past timeline takes place in England during WWI and is about Sylvia, Charlie and Sylvia’s friend Barbara
Jane did an amazing job searching WWII period. I am fascinated by that period in time as I heard tales first hand from my parents who were born at that time and my great grand mother but I still learned new facts!
Like pets being euthanized as people didn’t have enough food to feed cats and dogs!
I love her retelling of the war times in England. The tone is vastly different from Fiona/present’s story. It’s austere, factual, grave. Fitting for these somber times. And that also made it very easy to separate the two stories.
I also really appreciated that Jane chose to speak about Bletchley Park and sent Sylvia working for them. This is my second novel this year taking place at Bletchley and it still fascinates me. Sylvia was a linguist and excellent at crosswords so she will be used to translate messages partially decoded.
The men and women at Bletchley Park did a very important job at war time, trying to crack the Enigma and to decipher other enemy messages. They played a key role in avoiding countless deaths and helping to guide the allied forces.
Sylvia will have an amazing character growth.
At the beginning of the story, she is seventeen years old and will marry to her sweetheart Harry just before him beginning his training as pilot to go fight in the war.
When the war begins Sylvia is rather passive and a little meek. But she also was so young and naïve! She will go studying at Oxford respecting her parent’s wishes.
That will soon change though. Faced with the brutality of the German’s attacks on English soil, she won’t hide anymore. She simply HAS to do her part in this war.
And she will grow. As everyone changed in these harsh times. At Bletchley she will meet Barbara, carefree and bold. They soon become very good friend and that will help Sylvia to go out of her shell.
And when Sylvia will meet these two Yanks come to visit Bletchley, her newfound spirit will rear its head!
“Yes, that’s right,” I said in a clipped voice that I suspect sounded rather like Vivien Leigh, my favourite actress having seen Fire Over England three times at the cinema, and Gone with the Wind twice. “And I also speak and read Greek, modern and ancient; Latin, of course; Anglo Saxon, French and Russian. This is the Government Code & Cypher School, not the Boy Scouts.”
I won’t say more about that story-arc, just know that Syliva will meet the very alluring Charlie, proud Indian from US and kindred spirit. Follows a complicated relationship filled with longing, anguish, drama, hope and shocking twist on a war background.
The present timeline is about Fiona, Joe Fox and their friend a very old but real firecracker woman named Dolly
“Hello, my name is Fiona. It’s nice to meet you. I’m your cosmetologist and I’m here to make you look beautiful for your special day. I want your family and friends to be able to remember you looking your best.”
Fiona is a beautician who is currently working on deceased people and managing a second then a third job. She begins working for retirement facility where she will meet old but irreverent Dolly and Joe Fox the very alluring Indian gardener.
Fiona is sweet and hard working. She also is so alone. All her life she had to fight to be accepted because she doesn’t fit the normal size. She has generous curves and has used Marilyn Monroe as inspiration.
It was funny yet touching Fiona’s quoting Marylin when she had to make a choice or take a decision. Like you usually do when someone you love is dead and think: “What would he or she say to me?”.
‘To all the girls who think you’re fat because you’re not a size zero. You’re the beautiful one. It’s society who’s ugly’.”
Fiona was so used to being shunned and to work for every scrap that she abandoned any grand dreams she might have harbored at one time.
“I just wanted to get through the next month and have enough money to pay my bills and maybe have a little extra to put by for a rainy day, a good book to read and a duvet to curl under. Small dreams, but they suited me. And even on my budget-daydreams, I knew I wouldn’t necessarily see them become reality, no matter how many jobs I took or hours I worked. So, no. Adventures were not within my pay-grade. I didn’t dare to dream so big. Not anymore. »
But that’s before she met Dolly! Because soon enough Dolly will embark Fiona and Joe on the adventure of a lifetime where both will learn about themselves about who they want to be. And of course some romance might happen ….
Just a quick word here to say that I had to work to get to appreciate Joe. In the beginning he made some douche comments and was full of an attitude I truly didn’t like! But when the confession time came later on he showed his vulnerability and that’s when he captured my heart.
Now if there was one character I loved right from the start, it was Dolly! Dolly and her many tales about past life, her refusal to conform to the image of the dull old lady, her love for colorful hairdo, her enormous generosity, her lack of judgement and.. her grand entrance!
She was also full of wisdom.
“The road is life itself, Dex. And it isn’t measured in miles, but in the friends we meet along the way.”
I wondered all along how both storyline would tie to each other and I had guessed only part of the truth.
The ending was nearly perfect. My only complaint would be that some question remained unanswered but it’s really is a minor detail.
Writing is my passion and my obsession. I write every day and I love it. My head is full of stories and characters. I’ll never keep up with all my ideas!
I live in a small village by the ocean and walk my little dog, Winnie, every day. It’s on those beach-side walks that I have all my best ideas.
Writing has become a way of life – and one that I love to share.