16 January 2014

The Last Telegram by Liz Trenow, Book review

  • Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark (April 2, 2013)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402279454


"A book to savor."-Kate Furnivall, author of The Russian Concubine
We all make mistakes. Some we can fix.
But what happens when we can't?
Decades ago, as Nazi planes dominated the sky, Lily Verner made a terrible choice. She's tried to forget, but now an unexpected event pulls her back to the 1940s British countryside. She finds herself remembering the brilliant colors of the silk she helped to weave at her family's mill, the relentless pressure of the worsening war, and the kind of heartbreaking loss that stops time.
In this evocative novel of love and consequences, Lily finally confronts the disastrous decision that has haunted her all these years. The Last Telegram uncovers the surprising truth about how the stories we weave about our lives are threaded with truth, guilt, and forgiveness.

Here are my thoughts:

Kate Furnivall was spot on: this is a book you will savour and sad to see end! I have just been on Liz Trenow's site and seen her Mum's photo which she tells her readers is very much like her heroine physically and it brought a new dimension to this story. 
In The Last Telegram we meet 80 year old Lily Verner whose memories of a precious love are triggered by her granddaughter's first parachute jump. Lily's family trace their origins all the way to the Huguenots and their knowledge of silk weaving produced top quality resources for the making of parachutes during WW2. 
Liz Trenow's bittersweet wartime love story is guaranteed to make your toes curl! Such love and the profound friendship Lily experience at a critical time in her life makes her a stronger person but at a cost.
Set against the silk industry at a time when worldwide conflicts made it imperative for this commodity to be produced the fastest way possible the novel grips you with its authenticity and evocative feelings.

"With parachute silk you have to get everything right. The quality of the yarn, the weave and the finishing. They're all critical to create the right porosity. Otherwise the parachutes are worse than useless.
Get it right and you save lives. Get it wrong,and you've got dead pilots."

From the intricate running of a silk factory down to minute details showcasing victories and disasters, the bidding for contracts with the Armed Forces, the daily routine of the home front with its rationing and often heartbreaks, the author describes British country life at a time when all that was left was to 'keep calm and carry on'.
It has been 65 years since Lily made a decision she has regretted a lifetime and it is now time to seek forgiveness.

I believed Liz Trenow's rendition of London's bombings, in particular V1's and V2's near the end of the war so vivid I phantom I heard the whistles...(I remember Mum telling us of the V2 which fell 50 meters away on a phone booth from her childhood home!).
Beautifully written with moving eloquence, The Last Telegram is a novel about love and the consequences of our actions. 
Not to be missed Folks!
5 Stars!

Meet the Author:

From Amazon's site:

Liz Trenow's family have been silk weavers for nearly three hundred years, and she grew up in the house next to the mill in Suffolk, England, which still operates today, weaving for top-end fashion houses and royal commissions.

It was the recollections of Liz's father about how, during the Second World War, the mill worked night and day weaving parachute silk, that inspired her first novel, The Last Telegram. It is the story of Lily Verner, a young woman who has to grow up very quickly and learn to manage the stresses and trials behind the Home Front in the Second World War.

The love story at the heart of the novel is also based on real life events and characters. In 1939, when war was imminent, Liz's family were so concerned about the plight of their many Jewish friends and business colleagues in Europe that travel to England and work at the mill. One of them fell in love with a local girl and, after internment in Australia and fighting for the Allies in Burma, returned to work at the mill, married and had a family, and lived a long and happy life. Unfortunately the story in The Last Telegram is not quite so straightforward!

Liz says: 'It is a coming of age story, a tale of love and loss, and how we come to terms with the mistakes we make.'

Visit Liz Trenow's site (HERE) for more information and additional novels!

Note to Readers: This was a library loan and all opinions are entirely my own!


  1. Sounds like an interesting book Noelle. Thank you for sharing!

    Wishing you a lovely weekend!

    Madelief x

    1. Well worth checking out Madelief and wishing you a peaceful weekend!
      Just noticed a few perennials poking their head in the garden and the Robins are singing! It feels so good...

  2. Sounds very good. Maybe sad but good. I'd love to be able to check this one out.

    1. I hope you have the opportunity Mystica as I am convinced you will not be disappointed! Even in hardship, there is always a silver lining if one is willing to look, right?
      All the best,

  3. I loved this book, too! It was on my best of 2013 list.

    1. A book with SUBSTANCE! Those are the best Anna, aren't they?
      Thanks for stopping by Dear!


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