Published: 28/05/2014
ISBN: 9781783064144
eISBN: 9781783066872
Format: Paperback/eBook



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Alison Leonard has written fiction, drama and poetry for all age groups, including plays for BBC radio, novels that have been translated into other European languages, plays that have been performed w... read more

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Heavenly Lilies
by Alison Leonard

'I’m here for the peace and quiet,' Sheila said warmly.
'Well, and so am I,' said Colin. 'Refugees are we both, then?'

How far can we trust anyone? Even someone we’ve fallen in love with? Even… ourselves?

Heavenly Lilies is set in 1996, soon after the horrors of the Fred and Rose West case. Sheila is on the jury of a case that’s eerily similar. As they retire to consider their verdict, Sheila knows that because of her own sexual history, she can’t make that judgement. She walks out, and flees as far away as she can: to an island off the west coast of Ireland.

As she settles into this remote and beautiful place, she encounters Colin, who’s on the run from his own demons. They make love, and Sheila discovers another self, called Shelia.

But suspicion is everywhere. Guilt, too: how could she abandon those tortured children? And questions. The local priest is full of worldly wisdom, but how has he acquired it? Can Sheila trust his judgement about Colin? Will the police drag her back to the horror of the trial?

Then her son Jack arrives, an attractive 2o-year-old. Guilelessly he makes play for Nuala, the damaged local girl who Sheila sees as a mermaid. But this is dangerous ground. Nuala’s mother and grandmother are competing for possession of her, and the island’s ancient politics threaten any outsider who disturbs it.

Jack and Nuala disappear, and the search for them forces out some truth about Sheila’s quest, Nuala’s story, and Colin’s reasons for coming to the island. When the police arrive, they don’t need to arrest Sheila: she’s ready to return. But can she still love Colin? If the answer is yes, can their love survive?

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Verdicts on Heavenly Lilies:

Evocative and moving throughout… a wonderful piece of work, which would be loved by intelligent readers.
Sarah Molloy, literary agent.

A mini-miracle… a challenge to growth and healing… A gripping story.
Sheila Bright, editor, Goddess Alive

I was hooked… Trisha Jackson, editor, Pan Macmillan.


Reviews of Flesh & Bronze

A convincing piece of fiction, with a rare sense of tension about it.
Fay Weldon

Meticulously researched, utterly convincing.
Rubery Book Award shortlisting


Memorable characters and a story full of surprise and wonder.
Andrew Rudd, Cheshire Poet Laureate

A feast for the senses, particularly the tactile. Alison Leonard is an alchemist, bringing Degas' sculpture vividly to life in the beautifully imagined Juliette, the loves and miseries of her life so finely balanced. The writing is subtle and supple, full of surprises, not a word out of place. I found it inspiring and heartbreaking.
Dori Miller

Beautifully researched, the ignominy endured by women like Juliette is compellingly told. We are led through Paris in the late 1880s where Juliette is increasingly haunted by the past and Didier's family have their own tragedies with which they have to come to terms. The descriptions of bronze pouring are unforgettable, the Parisian studios and street-life are so lovingly described one can almost smell them and, Juliette's relationship with the deaf Sébastien makes this finally a story full of redemption.
Jeff Phelps, novelist

What an achievement, steered to a triumphant close after so much struggle. The characters live in the mind, and the ending made me sigh with satisfaction. The way Juliette's almost unbearable memories are revealed develops the story like a film. There are so many cinematic moments…
Christine Evans, award-winning poet


Other praise for Alison Leonard’s writing:

Told at a heady pace, with wonderful real absorbing characters.
The Guardian on Tinker’s Career.

A novel for older students of 14-plus, and for any adult lucky enough to find it.
The School Librarian on Kiss the Kremlin Goodbye.

A good thrilling narrative, sensitively told.
The Irish Times on The Mystery of the Rugglesmoor Dinosaur.

Alison's prose dances the light fantastic.
Lavinia Byrne on Telling Our Stories.

This book... may turn you upside down because it does not flinch from entering those areas of experience where customarily only poets, novelists and mystics dare to tread.
Brian Thorne on Telling Our Stories.

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