Set in Northern Ireland during World War II, The Linen Queen is the story of beautiful and flirtatious Sheila McGee, who works in the linen mill in her small town. She and her selfish, mean mother live with a miserable aunt and drunken uncle, and Sheila dreams of escape to England or America. When she wins the local Linen Queen contest she thinks it will change her life, but it is the bombing of Belfast by the Jerries and the Yankee army’s arrival in town that radically alter life for Sheila and her fellow townspeople. Now she must share her tiny room with a troubled teen, a refugee from the Blitz. A relationship with a lonely American Jewish soldier opens up her world, and she begins to evolve into a caring human being. The author evokes the local Irish lingo and landscape beautifully. Although the story is slightly repetitive, it reveals much about how great world events affect a small, remote town. The book is suitable for both teens and adults.
Miriam Bradman Abrahams is a Cuban-born, Brooklyn-raised, Long Island-residing mom. She is Hadassah Nassau’s One Region One Book chairlady, a freelance essayist, and a certified yoga instructor who has loved reviewing books for the JBC for the past ten years.