Coronation Year

Jennifer Robson (Our Darkest Night; Moonlight over Paris; After the War Is Over) returns to postwar London in her warm seventh historical novel, Coronation Year. As 1953 dawns, the city prepares for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, and the residents of the Blue Lion hope the day will change their fortunes. Edie Howard, the hotel's owner, needs a morale boost and an infusion of cash to keep her family's legacy alive. Photographer Stella Donati is trying to build a new life in London after horrific wartime losses in her native Italy, and thrills at being chosen for the coronation's press corps. Anglo-Indian artist James (Jamie) Geddes, also struggling with his wartime experiences, receives a lucrative commission to paint a portrait of the queen as she passes by. Robson interweaves these characters' stories to show how the machinations of the royal family affect the lives of everyday Londoners.

Robson's narrative deftly blends her three protagonists' challenges with moments of lightness and joy. Though Edie struggles to keep the hotel's books balanced, she is charmed by her growing connection to Jamie. Stella wonders if she'll ever be happy again after losing her family to the war, but she finds a congenial work environment, and enjoys building her photographic skills. Jamie, meanwhile, faces both casual racism and his own wartime trauma, but finds an unexpected home at the Blue Lion. Despite a series of anonymous threats aimed at both the hotel and the queen, Robson brings her characters and the coronation to a triumphant conclusion. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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