‘The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite’ is the story of Lilly Nelly Aphrodite born on the 1st January 1900 to a cabaret performer and a man known as ‘The Bavarian Lover’. Lilly’s entrance to the world is memorable, not only because of her birth but due to fact her skin was coloured blue because of the blue hand-woven cloth she was wrapped in, then the midwife finds that Lilly is not breathing and is brought back to life by the midwife’s palm smacking her back.
Lilly’s mother does not embrace motherhood, she loves her daughter but does not have much patience with her, ‘The Bavarian Lover’ is indifferent to both mother and daughter, by the age of 3, following the untimely death of her parents, Lilly is adopted by a couple in the vain hope that Lilly will replace their recently deceased daughter, they even change her name to ‘Dora’, time with her new parents is short and Lilly is sent to St Francis Xavier Home for Orphaned Children where she meets her lifelong friend, Hanne, a 12 year old girl forced to grow up fast due to circumstance, as Lilly gets older, Hanne looks after her as much as she can.
As the years past, Lilly grows into a determined and independent young woman, the orphanage closes and Lilly enters the world on her own and her life as stated in the title becomes luminous.
If like me you enjoyed reading about history, you will enjoy this book, Beatrice Colin gives a very in-depth account of Berlin during the 1920s and onwards, the major events in history and the seedier side of Berlin, the places that Lilly and Hanne work, their life experiences, which are at times, very sad, you feel for both characters.
Lily’s life is extraordinary to read, she finds love and losses it, she becomes famous on the silver screen purely by accident but Lilly’s determination makes her succeed.
Lily may be seen as one of life’s victims but she is not a victim, she refuses to be so, she faces everything with determination whilst keeping hope alive.
A great read but at time quite long winded, its subtle in its approach, you become engrossed, very quickly.
Reviewed by Paula Mc (Gyre/Weave)