By Jennifer Robson
William Morrow Paperbacks; paperback, $17.99
Jennifer Robson is the internationally bestselling author of seven historical novels, among them Somewhere in France and The Gown. She holds a doctorate in British economic and social history from Saint Antony's College, University of Oxford, where she was a Commonwealth Scholar and an SSHRC Doctoral Fellow.
Coronation Year is Robson's deeply researched and engaging new novel that invites readers into the lives of ordinary people who were affected, both positively and negatively, by the pomp and circumstance of the royals.
It is set in Coronation Year, 1953, when Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne. The people of London are in a mood to celebrate, none more so than those who live in the Blue Lion hotel.
Edie Howard is the owner and operator of the floundering Blue Lion, and she has found the miracle she needs. Queen Elizabeth, in her gold coach, will pass by the hotel's front door on Coronation Day. This will allow Edie to charge a fortune for rooms and, barring disaster, save her beloved home from financial ruin. Her life is about to change, all due to a queen she is unlikely ever to meet.
Stella Donati is a young Italian photographer and Holocaust survivor, has come to live at the Blue Lion while she takes up a coveted position at Picture Weekly magazine. When it's in celebration mode, London feels like a different world to her. As she learns the ins and outs of her new profession, Stella discovers a purpose and direction that honors her past and will bring hope for her future.
James Geddes, a war hero and gifted artist, as struggled to make his mark in a world that disdains his Indian ancestry. When he is at the Blue Lion, he feels welcome and worthy, and as his friendship with Edie deepens, he begins to suspect that something is badly amiss at his new home.
Then, their mood of happy optimism is disrupted when anonymous threats are focused on Coronation Day, the Blue Lion, and even the Queen herself. Edie and her friends must uncover the truth, save their home, and expose those who seek to erase the joy and promise of Coronation Year.
After observing her son, King Charles, and his Coronation on May 5, the events depicted here will be familiar, or not, since there were a few subtle changes.