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CORONATION YEAR - Jennifer Robson
A Perfect 10
William Morrow Paperbacks
ISBN - 978-0-06-307414-9
April 2023

London, England - 1953

As Britain slowly recovers from the war years, there is new hope on the horizon as it crowns its new Queen.

Edwina (Edie) Howard is the de facto owner of the centuries old Blue Lion hotel. Established by a Howard relative four hundred years ago, Edie inherited it upon the death of her parents at the beginning of the war. The hotel is both her business as well as the only home she has known, and she is struggling to keep it afloat financially. Everything needs updating, including the cranky boiler in the basement that provides hot water for the inhabitants. As for those inhabitants, besides the transient ones, there are three elderly people who pay a pittance to live in the hotel. Edie's cherished employees, besides Cook and two house maids, there is Mick the doorman, Mr. Swan, the night manager, and the newest employee, Mr. Brooks who is the clerk who is at the desk during the day. Edie feels responsible for all of them.

To Edie's shock and delight, the very street that the Blue Lion is on has been designated part of the route that the Queen's procession will make from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Abbey. This will enable Edie to increase her prices as she makes reservations for guests to observe the historic event. This new queen may just be the answer to Edie's problems.

Edie's friend, Stella Donati, a survivor of the Holocaust and an Italian photographer, has just accepted a position with Picture Weekly, a London-based magazine. She is thrilled to be able to move into the Blue Lion after her move from Italy. It's the beginning of a new life for her, and a way to try and forget the horrors of the past.

James (Jamie) Geddes, a talented artist, and war hero has moved from Edinburgh to London at the behest of a company that wants him to paint a depiction of the coronation procession as it passes in front of their office building. As luck would have it, there is a small hotel directly across the street - the Blue Lion. Jamie settles into his room, pleased with its view of the office building, as well as the hotel's lovely owner. He senses, however, that all is not right with the business, as Edie seems stressed.

As Edie prepares for the upcoming exciting occasion, discouraging, and anonymous events begin to occur. Edie is confused, and hurt, worried that the future of the hotel is now in real jeopardy. She confides some of these worries to Jamie and Stella. What can they do to prevent further troubles?

CORONATION YEAR is a lovely glimpse into London of the early fifties, and how the future with their new queen will bolster the recovery from the war years. It's also a view into the private lives of the people living in the aged hotel, from Edie to the maids. The mystery of just who wants the hotel to fail hounds Edie as she determinedly moves forward with her plans for her guests on Coronation Day.

Jani Brooks

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