Author : Rachel Rhys
Title : A Dangerous Crossing
Pages : 364
Publisher : Doubleday / Transworld / Penguin UK
Publication date : March 23, 2017
1939: Europe is on the brink of war.
Lily Shepherd, a servant girl, boards an ocean liner for Australia. She is on her way to a new life, leaving behind the shadows in her past. For a humble girl, the passage proves magical – a band, cocktails, fancy dress balls. A time when she is beholden to no one. The exotic locations along the way – Naples, Cairo, Ceylon – allow her to see places she’d only ever dreamed of, and to make friends with people higher up the social scale who would ordinarily never give her the time of day. She even allows herself to hope that a man who she couldn’t possibly have a future with outside the cocoon of the ship might return her feelings.
But Lily soon realises that her new-found friends are also escaping secrets in their past. As the ship’s glamour fades, the stage is set for something awful to happen. By the time the ship docks, two of Lily’s fellow passengers are dead, war has been declared and Lily’s life will be irrevocably changed.
Oh, what a little gem this book is!
Lily Shepherd boards the ship Orentes to travel to Australia to work as a domestic servant and in the hope of leaving tragedy behind her. During the crossing, she gets to mingle with a variety of people who would normally not give her the light of day. But on the Orentes, anything goes, in the knowledge that once you land, you won’t be seeing your fellow passengers again. Being cooped up on a ship with strangers and with the world on the brink of war, Lily’s life will look very different once she arrives at her destination.
This is another book that has been on my TBR pile for way too long and I’m so glad I finally decided to make the time to read it. I am usually quite a fast reader but with A Dangerous Crossing, I made a conscious effort to slow down so I could soak up the atmosphere and savour each and every page. I often enjoy some historical fiction and to have that combined with a murder mystery was such a treat.
I don’t like ships. Actually, I don’t even like water. So you’ll never see me travelling that way. Yet the author’s writing was such, that I truly felt I was right there bobbing away on the ocean and visiting all these wonderfully exotic locations, that were quite clearly really well researched. Just like the five weeks it takes Lily to travel, I felt like I was on a journey and I really enjoyed being immersed in the daily events of the passengers. Some I liked, some I very much disliked, some I would happily, accidentally on purpose, have thrown overboard.
It only took a few pages to have me completely engrossed and enthralled and I stayed up until two in the morning because I so desperately wanted to finish this. It almost felt as if the author had cast a spell on me, I was that enchanted. Rachel Rhys is a pseudonym for a well known crime writer and I so hope she tackles historical fiction again. I absolutely loved this one and it goes straight on to my list of books the year!
A Dangerous Crossing was published on March 23rd.