In April of 1921, Antony Sylvester celebrates his seventeenth birthday with a brand new aeroplane; a present from his wealthy, but distant father. Lily Gabriel is four years younger than Antony, head-over-heels in love with him, and the only person in his circle of friends who’s brave enough to do the parachute jump Antony so desperately wants to try. But is it truly courage, or is Lily just only driven by her desire to impress a boy so self-absorbed that he can’t see that the best thing that could ever happen to him may be about to pass him by.
This book felt incredibly nostalgic to me! It’s not connected to the Flambards series (the only other books of Peyton’s that I’ve read), but the setting and the subject matter were both incredibly reminiscent of The Edge of the Cloud (the second Flambards book) – and particularly the parts of the book that took place at Brooklands Airfield, a place that feels like an old friend to me, even though I’ve never been there. Aeroplanes aren’t something that I’ve thought about in quite some time, but Peyton was the author who first made me love love them, and Wild Lily really re-invigourated that love.
But despite being pre-disposed to like this book, it took me a while to really get into it; for the first third of the book I was worried that I wasn’t going to like it at all (which would have been a huge tragedy). It’s written in a very matter-of-fact style that it took me some time to get used to. Additionally, I initially really disliked Antony, who is spoiled and selfish, and although Lily was a wonderful character from the very start, the beginning of the book is largely dominated by Antony and his ego.
… So, he’s kind of a prat, but he did grow on me, and by the end of the book he came across as a more loveable one than he did at the beginning. As I got to know him better, his faults became less annoying and more tragic. And Lily, as I mentioned before, was a joy to read about; bold and adventurous, and unashamedly devoted to Antony without blinding herself to his flaws. I also really loved how fiercely protective she was of her little brother, who is frequently bullied because he was born with some kind of brain damage (possibly?).
Wild Lily didn’t go in the direction that I was expecting – or hoping for – it to, but it did so in a way that felt very true-to-life, and I found myself very satisfied with the way it ended. All in all, it was a thoroughly enjoyable book, with a slightly sad, but also touching storyline, and some really wonderful characters. I expect that this book will stay with me for a long time to come.