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The Brass Dolphin

The Brass Dolphin

5.0 1
by Joanna Trollope, Caroline Harvey

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Lila Cunningham, motherless since babyhood, was almost twenty-one when her familiar life in a small town on the Suffolk coast came abruptly to an end.  It was 1938, and she learned with a shock that her endearing but feckless artist father faced financial disaster.  With the loss of their home imminent, they had no option but to exxept an offer


Lila Cunningham, motherless since babyhood, was almost twenty-one when her familiar life in a small town on the Suffolk coast came abruptly to an end.  It was 1938, and she learned with a shock that her endearing but feckless artist father faced financial disaster.  With the loss of their home imminent, they had no option but to exxept an offer of a house in Malta, and on that hot and exotic island, in the magnificent but crumbling Villa Zonda, Lila at last glimpsed the kind of life of which she had always dreamed.

But war was looming, and Malta became the focus of Hitler's attention while Lila became the focus of attention of three very different young men.  As bombing devastated the island Lila, along with the other inhabitants, learned to live with privation and fear, and also to discover which dreams are really worth pursuing.

In this enchanting new novel Caroline Harvey captures all the warmth and romance of Malta as well as its dramatic sufferings during the Second World War.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
As readers might surmise, even when she writes under a pseudonym and chooses an exotic setting, Trollope is not one to succumb to the conventions of a standard romantic novel. In this first of her historical novels to be published here, Trollope/Harvey allows the complexities of human nature to influence a credibly bittersweet ending. In 1938, when 20-year-old Lila Cunningham--frustrated by her poverty-stricken life in a small English town near the North Sea--learns that her cheerfully feckless father has lost their house to the bank, she appeals for guidance to the elderly, childless Perriams, a couple who employ her as a research assistant. The Perriams seize upon a solution: Lila and her father will become caretakers of Villa Zonda, a house they own on Malta. After an arduous sea voyage, the Cunninghams discover that the dilapidated mansion is brimming over with a large, exuberant peasant family. Also to her surprise, Lila is pursued, quietly and steadily, by a young Maltese schoolmaster, Angelo Saliba. But Lila has eyes only for the two dashing nephews of snobbish Count Julius Tabia, though she knows that the titled family will never fully accept her as a wife for either of them. The advent of WWII forces Lila to move beyond dreams to action. Under the tutelage of Miss de Vere, a formidable presence in the English-speaking community, she works at a hospital caring for the wounded; at Villa Zonda, she scrapes together meals and grows ever closer to Carmela, the ambitious, English-speaking young daughter of the peasant family. But a part of Lila still clings to her romantic dreams, and only after a series of deaths and a postwar trip to a victorious Britain does she realize she is truly independent--and, most surprising of all, content. Trollope's compelling and perfectly paced story is capped off with a satisfyingly realistic and ambiguous conclusion. (Sept.) FYI: This is the first of Trollope's Caroline Harvey novels, all previously published in the U.K., to be issued here. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Turning away from contemporary fiction (Other People's Children), Trollope as Caroline Harvey introduces the first novel in her new historical series. During World War II, Lila Cunningham, a na ve young English heroine, comes to terms with the gap between the life she dreams of having and reality. The novel opens in 1938 as Lila faces financial ruin because of her father's recklessness. The Perriams, scholars who employ her but are more like grandparents to her, force Lila to accept a house, the beautiful but tattered Villa Zonda, on the island of Malta. When she and her father arrive, Lila is introduced to the class-based culture of the Maltese and falls in love with the wealthy and snobbish Ferroferrata brothers. The prospect of marriage helps Lila survive the war. As the Maltese discover their sense of nationality at the end of the war, Lila realizes that everything she wanted and loved is just an illusion. Trollope creates memorable characters while capturing the fear, suffering, and devastation of Nazi raids on Malta. Recommended for all public libraries. [For a different kind of novel set in Malta during World War II, see Nicholas Rinaldi's The Jukebox Queen of Malta (LJ 5/1/99).--Ed.]--Amanda Fung, "Library Journal" Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A Bantam hardcover in 1997, published under the pseudonym of Caroline Harvey, this first of a series vividly details the tough lessons about love and life a young Englishwoman learns on Malta during WWII. As usual, Trollope's characters are originals with as many flaws as virtues, but mostly they can change, plus act courageously. This they do on the island that received the George Cross, Britain's highest civilian honor, for its citizens' remarkable bravery under enemy attack. In 1938, 21-year-old Lila and her father must accept her British employer's offer to take care of a villa on Malta; Lila's Pa, a sometime artist and perennial bon vivant, has spent all their money. The Villa Zonda is run-down, the people are initially hostile, and the way of life is unfamiliar, but Lila's lot improves when she starts working for Count Julius, a local historian, in his splendid home. She meets his nephews Anton and Max, and falls in love with Anton. When war breaks out, Max enlists, as does Anton, who asks Lila to wait for him, and existence on Malta becomes increasingly perilous. The Germans bomb the island continually, their fleet surrounds it, food is scarce. Lila works in a hospital with the indomitable Miss de Vere, who, contemptuous of Count Julius and his nephews, counsels that there is more to life than luxury. Although Lila seldom hears from Anton, she doesn't consider handsome schoolmaster Angelo as a suitor. At least not yet: She has more heartbreak to endure and more tough decisions to make. But character, as it should, wins out. Intelligent historical fiction with characters strong enough to compete with the events they're illuminating, by a master of the genre (Other People'sChildren, 1999, etc.).

Product Details

Penguin Group (USA)
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4.18(w) x 7.12(h) x 0.92(d)

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The Brass Dolphin 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent!!!  Wonderful character development.  Excellent information about Malta.  Highly recommended!!