A Dangerous Crossing - Rachel Rhys - Review
1939: Europe is on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd, a servant girl, boards an ocean liner for Australia. She is on her way to a new life, leaving behind the shadows in her past.
For a humble girl, the passage proves magical - a band, cocktails, fancy dress balls. A time when she is beholden to no one. The exotic locations along the way - Naples, Cairo, Ceylon - allow her to see places she’d only ever dreamed of, and to make friends with people higher up the social scale who would ordinarily never give her the time of day. She even allows herself to hope that a man who she couldn’t possibly have a future with outside the cocoon of the ship might return her feelings.
But Lily soon realises that her new-found friends are also escaping secrets in their past. As the ship’s glamour fades, the stage is set for something awful to happen. By the time the ship docks, two of Lily’s fellow passengers are dead, war has been declared and Lily's life will be irrevocably changed...
Knowing that this author is an already well established psychological thriller writer would have come as no surprise if I hadn't already known this in advance of reading this change of genre historical fiction romantic drama, as it pulses with mystery, tension and suspense throughout.
Its the most perfect holiday read and fabulously enjoyable reading, which kept me gripped from page one.
A Dangerous crossing is a story of a thrilling and tension filled journey of discovery one young woman takes on a ship to the other side of the world at the outbreak of world war Two. Lily Shepherd is in need of a change of scene, with her working class background and sketchy work history, the opportunity arises to avail herself of a government assisted passage scheme for domestic workers to travel to Australia to fill a glut of domestic positions.
This scheme helps her stretch her horizons much wider than should be usual for a young working class girl. Travelling with others in a similar position ensures she makes friends as soon as she boards the Orontes. Being on board a ship in a close knit environment for a long trip means class distinctions can easily become blurred by the heat of foreign travel and a mix of people from different backgrounds travelling by the same route to the same destination for a wide variety of reasons.
Everyone on boards has secrets. Lily becomes friendly with attractive Edward and his sister Helena travelling together for rather vague health reasons. Vivacious and fascinating very much upper class couple Max Campbell and wife Eliza offer a hand of friendship but they are very obviously far removed from anyone she'd normally socialise with. Each with a mystery or secret.
Its a very eventful voyage with simmering tensions and undercurrents ready to drag the unwary traveller beneath the surface. Hidden agendas, secrets and lies are everywhere and it's totally utterly compelling this story of a young girl way out of her comfort zone and the characters she meets and the events which unfold one season at sea.
There is so much going on with the slightly claustrophobic feeling of being in a close knit community with folk you normally wouldn't mix with. Some amazing characters, nice and not so nice, coupled with simmering tensions of war brewing and change of the horizon and enough twists and turns to keep the reader engrossed.
The book begins with a woman being escorted from the ship amid a barrage of press attention and rumours, but its left to the reader throughout the story, to assimilate the information revealed and guess who it might be .... I can bet the identity proves to be a huge surprise for most readers!
A fabulous wonderful read I just loved to bits. If you only pack one book to take on holiday this year make it this one.