1939: Europe is on the brink of war when young Lily Shepherd boards an ocean liner in Essex, bound for Australia. She is ready to start anew, leaving behind the shadows in her past. The passage proves magical, complete with live music, cocktails, and fancy dress balls. With stops at exotic locations along the way—Naples, Cairo, Ceylon—the voyage shows Lily places she’d only ever dreamed of and enables her to make friends with those above her social station, people who would ordinarily never give her the time of day. She even allows herself to hope that a man she couldn’t possibly have a future with outside the cocoon of the ship might return her feelings.
But Lily soon realizes that she’s not the only one hiding secrets. Her newfound friends—the toxic wealthy couple Eliza and Max; Cambridge graduate Edward; Jewish refugee Maria; fascist George—are also running away from their pasts. As the glamour of the voyage fades, the stage is set for something sinister to occur. By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and Lily’s life will be changed irrevocably.
My Thoughts: For me, a crossing such as this would be the last thing I would choose. I get a bit claustrophobic when confined to any sort of space, and surrounded by water…well, I can imagine how every conflict would be exacerbated and tiny issues might become huge, and then there would be no escape.
Mix in personalities that should never be mixed…and nothing good will come of any of it.
Despite the glittering parties that could almost make someone like Lily feel carefree, there was always that sense of class distinctions beneath the surface, reminding her of her place in the world.
I disliked Max and Eliza immediately. They were fake and rude and abrasive. But for some reason, Lily was drawn to them.
I could understand her wanting to spend time with Edward, although his inconsistencies were annoying and mysterious. Maria was someone I felt sorry for…but I could also understand Lily’s reactions toward the end.
Ida, a cabin mate, was harsh and judgmental. And then there was George, seething with rage, an undercurrent of open hostility present in every word he spoke.
A pleasant and somewhat unexpected surprise awaits them all in Melbourne, when Eliza introduces them to the actor Alan Morgan and his wife Cleo (Bannister). * A little tidbit about how the author chose that moniker for a character came from the blogger Cleopatra Loves Books.
Aboard the ship was a mixed pot of trouble that could not help but boil over. The mysteries that unfolded in A Dangerous Crossing seemed inevitable and I couldn’t stop reading. There were parts in the middle that dragged for me, but I pushed on, knowing I would enjoy the ending. 4.5 stars.