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The Last Telegram

     by Trenow, Liz

The Last Telegram

This novel opens with Lily Verner dealing with the recent death of her second husband. Going through things, she finds an old moldy tennis racket which takes her back to 1938, the summer after she graduated from high school. Her plan was to go to Geneva, Switzerland, and study French. But hearing news of Hitler’s activities, her parents decide that it is not the time to go to Switzerland. Instead, she is to start working in the Verner’s silk factory, not as an assistant to her father but as a weaver. Though at first she thinks this is only temporary, England declares war on Germany and the factory operates at full-stop manufacturing silk for parachutes for the forces. To help the Jews in Europe, the Verners agree to sponsor three young Germans, bringing them to England to work in the factory. Soon Lily and one of the young men find themselves attracted to each other but the course of their romance does not run smooth. A bombing in London at the Verner headquarters necessitates Lily taking charge of the factory. One fateful decision she makes regarding a silk shipment severs her relationship with a trusted friend and colleague and haunts her for years until her grandaughter intervenes and finds out the truth. 

In the Acknowledgements, the author explains that this story had its inspiration in fact. The author’s father and brother manage a silk weaving company that has been in the family for three hundred years. During WWII, the mill made parachute silk, their London office was bombed and they sponsored several Jewish Kindertransport boys, one of whom returned after the war to marry a local woman. The author has taken those facts and created a wonderful fictional account of a young woman who grows and matures in love and work. This novel has compelling characters, romance and an interesting historical setting.

Reviewed by ch, . Other reviews by ch.