Set within the backdrop of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in June 1953, Coronation Year by Jennifer Robson is a quiet, character-focused story that incorporates history, vivid descriptions of post-WWII London and a bit of mystery. The ceremony plays a (surprisingly) minor role and instead, Robson focuses on the lives, loves, and struggles of a handful of British citizens and their preparation for the big day that is expected to bolster citizens after the atrocities they experienced in WWII.
The story is told using three diverse perspectives:
- Edie is the owner of The Blue Lion, a floundering historic hotel that is on the procession route and has been in her family for generations. Edie is compassionate (almost to a fault) and her entire life is focused around the hotel.
- Stella has just moved to London from Italy and bears the scars of war and loss. She is staying at The Blue Lion and works as a newspaper photographer who is tasked with documenting the procession.
- Jamie is a Scots war hero and artist who has been commissioned to paint the Queen on her royal route. He faces his own troubles with PTSD and racism and was truly the gem of this book.
In the first part of the book readers get to know Edie, Stella, and Jamie, as well as a gaggle of eclectic hotel boarders, hotel staff and two characters from The Gown who make a cameo. Through her characters Robson introduces themes of racism, the on-going effects of the war and the weight of familial responsibility. A mystery is later added into the mix, but I found it to be the weak point of the story. It felt contrived with its obvious culprit and a resolution that wasn’t quite satisfying.
Overall, this was an enjoyable, quiet read and Robson beautifully captures the historic period and eager mood of the world for the impending royal coronation. I enjoyed its focus on a cast of ordinary characters whose lives collide in the lead up to an extraordinary event and is a great pick for fans of a HEA (happily ever after) and people who are eager for King Charles’ impending coronation.
You can put a hold on this book now for its April 4th release date!
Photo credit: https://www.jennifer-robson.com/about-jennifer/