Reviewed by Cesca Martin
In the late 1930’s, Lily Verner had been planning to travel to Geneva to really start living. A passionate, ambitious girl, she is frustrated by her father’s refusal to allow her to go and his insistence that she join the family’s silk weaving factory as an apprentice. With her world looking like it was closing in on her Lily is soon distracted by the start of WWII and the arrival of German Jewish refugees sent to England as part of the Kindertransport scheme. The mysteries of silk weaving start to get under her skin and when the family begin weaving parachutes for British airmen there is no room for error. Stefan, one of the Germans, slightly older than perhaps the records would state, also seems to spark Lily’s interest. As the war goes on, and tensions mount, rumours circulate that someone might be tampering with the silk. Will the Verner’s silk suffice? Will this love story be another war casualty?
Frankly, I adored this book. It was such a good yarn (if you’ll excuse the pun). As we meet Lily for the first time as an old woman, our curiosity is piqued about these mysterious war time years. Liz Trenow has written in an unfussy style and the every day of wartime reality is effortlessly drawn. Stefan is a fantastic character and the plight of the German refugees is fascinating. The irritating smooth-talker Robbie is a wonderfully antagonistic character and the sensitive and dry Gwen was particularly interesting. If you like books set in this era then you can’t fail with ‘The Last Telegram’. It’s well researched, contains characters you care about and brings a tear to the eye. What more do you want from a piece of historical fiction?