When two young women, Lily and Ida, meet on a flight to America they embark on a relationship that is to see them through two very different marriages and is to bring them comfort and distress, joy and tragedy, in equal measure as the years unfold.
Great-granddaughter to Charles Dickens, Monica (1915-1992) was born into an upper-middle-class family. Disillusioned with the world she was brought up in - she was expelled from St Paul's Girls' School in London for throwing her school uniform over Hammersmith Bridge - Dickens then decided to go into service, despite coming from the privileged class. Her experiences as a cook and general servant would form the nucleus of her first book, One Pair of Hands, in 1939.
Dickens married an American Navy officer, Roy O. Stratton, and spent much of her adult life in Massachusetts and Washington D.C., but the majority of her writing continued to be set in Britain. Her book of 1953, No More Meadows, reflected her work with the NSPCC and she later helped to found the American Samaritans in Massachusetts. Between 1970 and 1971 she wrote a series of children's books known as The Worlds End Series, which dealt with rescuing animals and, to some extent, children. After the death of her husband in 1985, Dickens returned to England where she continued to write until her death, aged 77.
What would have made Dear Doctor Lily better?
I couldn't get beyond the frightful narration to the actual story and had to stop listening. This reader does not have even a basic command of English pronunciation: "pull" spoken to rhyme with "hull", "took" pronounced as "huck" - and so on. It's not even just a matter of a regional accent, which would be fine. She reads without any apparent understanding of the text and inflects the wrong words. Why, oh why, do they choose these people to read when there are so many wonderful actors and other narrators around?
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