Saturday, September 5, 2015

The Orange Lilies by Nathan Dylan Goodwin

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Obtained from: Kindle Unlimited
Read: September 5, 2015

Morton Farrier has spent his entire career as a forensic genealogist solving other people’s family history secrets, all the while knowing so little of his very own family’s mysterious past. However, this poignant Christmastime novella sees Morton’s skills put to use much closer to home, as he must confront his own past, present and future through events both present-day and one hundred years ago. It seems that not every soldier saw a truce on the Western Front that 1914 Christmas… 

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I discovered Nathan Dylan Goodwin's The Orange Lilies while browsing the Kindle Unlimited catalog. None of my Goodreads contacts had read the novella and the Amazon reviews weren't particularly detailed, but the premise held promise and I decided to give it shot.

Before I get too far ahead of myself, I want to make a couple of things perfectly clear. The Orange Lilies is book 2.5 of Goodwin's Forensic Genealogist series, but it can be read as a standalone. I know because it's the first I picked up. It's also a bit of a slow starter so don't toss it aside if you aren't captivated by the end of chapter one. Here again folks, I'm speaking from experience.

Despite being a mere one hundred pages in length, the book is filled with several wonderful characters. Charlie, Nellie, Margaret and Morton in particular struck a chord with me. They each enjoy relatively modest face time with the reader, but they feel fresh and original nonetheless.

Goodwin's descriptions of the Western Front are brilliant. The author worked far more detail into the piece than I'd expected and I was quite impressed with his realistic portrayal life at the front. From the mud and blood to the mental fatigue and gallows humor of those struggling to survive the trenches, these scenes demonstrated both Goodwin's skill and dedication to authenticity.


The modern day story line is equally captivating. The multi-generational mystery of family secrets took longer for me to appreciate, but as the pieces fell into place, I recognized a growing fascination with the puzzle that represents Morton's personal history.

Highly recommended to fans of both historic and contemporary fiction.

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He wondered, if he survived all of this, if he could simply go back and find that naive man again. He doubted it. He was sure that he was forever lost, consumed inside the broken man that he was today, who had seen and been the cause of so much horror and brutality.
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