The Girl from Liverpool by Elizabeth Morton: A gripping blend of forbidden love, nostalgia and heartfelt emotions – book review –

When tough little Liverpool lass Peggy O’Shea sets eyes on handsome local boy Anthony Giardano at the tender age of eight, it feels like love at first sight…

By Pam Norfolk
Wednesday, 6th July 2022, 3:45 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th July 2022, 3:48 pm
The Girl from Liverpool by Elizabeth Morton
The Girl from Liverpool by Elizabeth Morton

But a bitter feud between their families and the war that is already dangerously brewing in Europe means that these star-crossed young lovers are destined to face a series of divisions that may never be healed.

If a gripping blend of forbidden love, nostalgia and heartfelt emotions is your perfect reading recipe, then head off to Liverpool with actress Elizabeth Morton for a deliciously romantic saga for long summer nights.

Morton, who is married to actor Peter Davison of Doctor Who fame, has a keen eye for drama and her childhood years in Liverpool have armed her with a love and in-depth knowledge of both the city and what makes its people tick.

And after success with A Liverpool Girl, A Last Dance in Liverpool, and Angel of Liverpool, Morton returns once again to Merseyside for a gritty and evocative tale set in the years before and during the Second World War.

‘Irish as peat bogs and mouths on ’em like the Mersey Tunnel.’ The O’Shea family of Feather Street have a reputation for trouble, not least young Peggy, the skinny, red-haired girl with an upturned nose, a face full of freckles and lots of attitude.

But for as long as she can remember, Peggy has been expected to work at the family dairy, look after her younger siblings, and eventually marry cow-keeper Martin Gallagher.

And that’s the path her life has predictably followed, except for the unexpected delight of a glorious summer in 1930 when, at the age of eight, she meets good-looking Anthony Giardano on the day of her confirmation at the local church.

Peggy can’t take her eyes off altar boy Anthony with his olive skin, glossy hair and brown velvet eyes, and he won’t soon forget the girl with a wild temper and arresting silver-flecked blue eyes. But there is bad blood between the O’Sheas and the Italian Giardanos so, perhaps for the sake of both of their families, it’s a good thing when Anthony suddenly disappears.

Ten years later at the start of the war, Peggy bumps into Anthony again but as they begin to rekindle their long-lost friendship and attraction to each other, Italy joins forces with Germany, and Liverpool turns on its Italian residents overnight, making any relationship between Peggy and Anthony now seem virtually impossible…

The Girl from Liverpool is an enchanting and drama-filled tale filled with colourful characters, northern humour, rich detail of life and its hardships in Liverpool in the pre-war and wartime period, and the alluring love between two young people on opposite sides of a long-standing and mysterious feud.

Readers cannot help but fall for feisty, straight-talking Peggy and her charming beau Anthony who face a barrage of obstacles both at home, and the wider stage of war and separation, in their battle to be together.

With secrets to unfold, the uncertainties of wartime, the strong sense of community that has always been a hallmark of this close-knit northern city, and an entertaining slice of Scouse humour to enjoy, this is a rollercoaster journey you wouldn’t want to miss!

(Pan, paperback, £7.99)