Genre: Historical Fiction
Sparkling cocktails, poisonous secrets …
1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.
But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own.
By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again.
Since the new year I’ve been branching out and reading genres that I normally haven’t paid attention to in the past, and historical fiction is one that I mostly ignored. I’m ashamed of that now as I’m beginning to realize I was truly missing out and it’s safe to say that I’m now a certified fan of the genre! There is something mesmerizing about being transported not only to a different place, but also a different era. A Dangerous Crossing swept me away to 1939 with a young English woman named Lily as she embarks on a long journey to Australia to begin a new chapter in her life.
Rhys was inspired to write this when she discovered an old diary written by a woman who had a similar journey to her main character, Lily. Though this is a fictional account, it’s loosely based on real events which is all the more captivating to me. It opens with one of those intriguing prologues where you know there has been a murder, then you are whisked back a few weeks prior where you learn about the events that lead to such tragedy.
Lily is heading to Australia to work as the government is allowing young women to travel at a discounted rate in order to obtain jobs once there. She quickly meets a rather broad, lively bunch of people, many of whom she would not ever cross paths with in her everyday life. There is Helena and her brother Edward, Eliza and her husband Max, and George a man traveling alone. Eliza and Max are especially eccentric and glamorous and the allure of hanging around with such sophisticated people intoxicates Lily. But everyone seems to be running from something in their past, and the entire group is shrouded in mystery.
Rhys used beautiful and highly detailed narrative descriptions as they made their way across the ocean, I really felt like I was there at times. The scenery depicted was breathtaking and awe inspiring, it was truly brought to life by the author. The times where the passengers were stuck at sea for days on end were equally as expressive and I could feel their boredom, isolation and sense of being trapped. The plot moved along steadily and by the time I came to the end, I was rather sad it was over. The ending was shocking and unexpected leaving me wholly satisfied, what a fantastic reading experience.
Overall rating: 4/5
Thanks to Alison Barrow for my review copy.