A dear friend of mine suggested The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite to me when I told her I wanted to read historical fiction. I’ve never heard of Beatrice Colin before, so I was excited to discover a new author. I am so glad I’ve read this. If you like historical fiction with great female characters, The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite will be one of your favourites in this genre.
I can still remember the events in this story. The characters are exquisite, and the plot is intricately constructed. While reading about Lilly’s life in Berlin, I felt as if I was with her in the orphanage, while growing up. And we walked in Berlin’s streets, sometimes hungry, sometimes with enough food to get by. I especially remember her friend Hanne, with whom she spent most of her life together. The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite is about how terrible war is. And it is also about love, friendship, hunger, and how life can change in seconds. I wish there were a movie of this book; it would be perfect for watching. Enjoy!
The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite
As the clock chimed the turn of the twentieth century, Lilly Nelly Aphrodite took her first breath. Born to a cabaret dancer and soon orphaned in a scandalous double murder, Lilly finds refuge at a Catholic orphanage, coming under the wing of the, at times, severe Sister August, the first in a string of lost loves.
There she meets Hanne Schmidt, a teen prostitute, and forms a bond that will last them through tumultuous love affairs, disastrous marriages, and destitution during the First World War and the subsequent economic collapse. As the century progresses, Lilly and Hanne move from the tawdry glamour of the tingle-tangle nightclubs to the shadow world of health films before Lilly finds success and stardom in the new medium of motion pictures and ultimately falls in love with a man whose fate could cost her everything she has worked for or help her discover her true self.
Gripping and darkly seductive, The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite showcases all the glitter and splendour of the brief heyday of the Weimar Republic, and the rise of Hollywood to its golden age. As it foreshadows the horrors of the Second World War, the novel asks what price is paid when identity becomes unfixed and the social order is upended.
Beatrice Colin was a novelist who also wrote extensively for radio. Her novels included The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite (2008) and The Songwriter (2010). She also wrote two novels for children: My Invisible Sister (2010) and Pyrate’s Boy (2013). The film rights for the former were bought by Disney.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: