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Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite Beatrice Colin John Murray


31st May 2012 History Books 2 Comments

‘The storytelling is masterful and the language magical’ — Sunday Times ‘A transfixing concerto of intrigue, passion, desperation, intrigue, love, heroism and tragedy’ — Easy Living ‘Intricately plotted and filled with memorable characters, Beatrice Colin’s gorgeous novel is a lush delight that perfectly captures the spirit of Berlin … compelling’ — The Gloss ‘Colin’s descriptions of Berlin are as vibrant and alive as Lilly and the rich cast of characters around her’ — Scotland on Sunday ‘An exceptional novel … Colin is an entertaining storyteller’ — Sunday Herald ‘Bold, solid and clever’ — Herald ‘A big, plush velvet cushion of a book’ — The List ‘Deftly captures the era’s sense of frenzied invention and seductive promise. Born on New Year’s Eve in 1899, Lilly is the incarnation of this toxic mix of glitter and despair. Over the course of nearly half a century, as troops parade through Berlin and bread lines erupt into riots, she is transformed, almost accidentally, from Tiny Lil, the unwanted baby, to Lidi, one of Germany’s most celebrated film stars … Colin … writes with a supple, whimsical charm. [The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite is] absorbing in its … authenticity’ — New York Times Book Review ‘As moving as it is smart, this tough-minded extravaganza had me from page one … a dazzling tale of survival in the urban wilderness’ — Emma Donoghue, author of the bestselling SLAMMERKIN ‘Written with intelligence and shimmer, [The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite] transports the reader to Berlin in the first part of the twentieth century. Colin’s heroine, Lilly Aphrodite, is as rich, alive, and dangerous as the city she inhabits; and as the novel progresses, Berlin’s history becomes her own.’ — David Ebershoff, author of The Danish Girl and The 19th Wife ‘There are few characters as beguiling as the incomparable Tiny Lil. And Colin tells her riveting story–and the enthralling story of pre-war Berlin–breathlessly and triumphantly.’ — Jennifer Gilmore, author of Golden Country ‘A compelling story well told’ — Sun Herald (Australia) ‘Decadent, tantalising’ — Axis Magazine ‘This gripping and darkly seductive novel showcases the glitter and darkness of the Weimar Republic’ — Western Daily Press ‘A cartload of tingle-tangle fun’ — Bookmunch ‘A sparkling array of Germany’s most flamboyant characters … intelligent, bold and passionate, this is a beautifully written book’ — Good Book Guide

Beatrice Colin was born in London and raised in Scotland. She has worked as a freelance journalist, writing for publications including The Guardian, and a playwright, writing radio plays for the BBC. She lives in Glasgow.

As the clock chimed the turn of the twentieth century, Lilly Nelly Aphrodite took her first breath. Born to a cabaret dancer and soon orphaned in a scandalous murder-suicide, Lilly finds refuge at a Catholic orphanage, coming under the wing of the, at times, severe Sister August, the first in a string of lost loves. There she meets Hanne Schmidt, a teen prostitute, and forms a bond that will last them through tumultuous love affairs, disastrous marriages, and destitution during the First World War and the subsequent economic collapse. As the century progresses, Lilly and Hanne move from the tawdry glamour of the tingle-tangle nightclubs to the shadow world of health films before Lilly finds success and stardom in the new medium of motion pictures and ultimately falls in love with a man whose fate could cost her everything she has worked for or help her discover her true self. Gripping and darkly seductive, The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite showcases all the glitter and splendour of the brief heyday of the Weimar Republic, and the rise of Hollywood to its golden age. As it foreshadows the horrors of the Second World War, the novel asks what price is paid when identity becomes unfixed and the social order is upended.

‘The storytelling is masterful and the language magical’ — Sunday Times ‘A transfixing concerto of intrigue, passion, desperation, intrigue, love, heroism and tragedy’ — Easy Living ‘Intricately plotted and filled with memorable characters, Beatrice Colin’s gorgeous novel is a lush delight that perfectly captures the spirit of Berlin … compelling’ — The Gloss ‘Colin’s descriptions of Berlin are as vibrant and alive as Lilly and the rich cast of characters around her’ — Scotland on Sunday ‘An exceptional novel … Colin is an entertaining storyteller’ — Sunday Herald ‘Bold, solid and clever’ — Herald ‘A big, plush velvet cushion of a book’ — The List ‘Deftly captures the era’s sense of frenzied invention and seductive promise. Born on New Year’s Eve in 1899, Lilly is the incarnation of this toxic mix of glitter and despair. Over the course of nearly half a century, as troops parade through Berlin and bread lines erupt into riots, she is transformed, almost accidentally, from Tiny Lil, the unwanted baby, to Lidi, one of Germany’s most celebrated film stars … Colin … writes with a supple, whimsical charm. [The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite is] absorbing in its … authenticity’ — New York Times Book Review ‘As moving as it is smart, this tough-minded extravaganza had me from page one … a dazzling tale of survival in the urban wilderness’ — Emma Donoghue, author of the bestselling SLAMMERKIN ‘Written with intelligence and shimmer, [The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite] transports the reader to Berlin in the first part of the twentieth century. Colin’s heroine, Lilly Aphrodite, is as rich, alive, and dangerous as the city she inhabits; and as the novel progresses, Berlin’s history becomes her own.’ — David Ebershoff, author of The Danish Girl and The 19th Wife ‘There are few characters as beguiling as the incomparable Tiny Lil. And Colin tells her riveting story–and the enthralling story of pre-war Berlin–breathlessly and triumphantly.’ — Jennifer Gilmore, author of Golden Country ‘A compelling story well told’ — Sun Herald ‘Decadent, tantalising’ — Axis Magazine ‘This gripping and darkly seductive novel showcases the glitter and darkness of the Weimar Republic’ — Western Daily Press ‘A cartload of tingle-tangle fun’ — Bookmunch ‘A sparkling array of Germany’s most flamboyant characters … intelligent, bold and passionate, this is a beautifully written book’ — Good Book Guide

Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite

The Songwriter. Beatrice Colin

Praise for The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite:’The storytelling is masterful and the language magical’ — Sunday Times ‘A transfixing concerto of intrigue, passion, desperation, intrigue, love, heroism and tragedy’ — Easy Living ‘Intricately plotted and filled with memorable characters, Beatrice Colin’s gorgeous novel is a lush delight that perfectly captures the spirit of Berlin … compelling’ — Gloss ‘Colin’s descriptions of Berlin are as vibrant and alive as Lilly and the rich cast of characters around her’ — Scotland on Sunday ‘An exceptional novel … Colin is an entertaining storyteller’ — Sunday Herald ‘Deftly captures the era’s sense of frenzied invention and seductive promise … Colin … writes with a supple, whimsical charm. [The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite] is absorbing in its authenticity’ — New York Times Book Review ‘Colin, who once lived in New York herself, retraces the era with consummate period detail and beautifully flowing prose’ — The List ‘[An] evocative and accomplished piece of work…the writer does a good job of conjuring up the heady atmosphere of the times’ — Big Issue

New York, 1916. Monroe Simonov, a song-plugger from Brooklyn, is in love with a Ziegfeld Follies dancer who has left him for California. Inez Kennedy, a fashion model in a department store, has just one season remaining to find a wealthy husband before she must return to the Midwest. Anna Denisova, a glamorous political exile, gives lectures and writes letters while she waits for the Russian people to overthrow their Tsar. Although the world is changing faster than they could ever have imagined, Monroe, Inez and Anna discover that they are still subject to the tyranny of the heart. In this richly atmospheric and deftly plotted novel, their paths cross and re-cross leaving a trail of passion, infidelity and betrayal, before hurtling towards an explosive climax

The Songwriter. Beatrice Colin










  • 2 responses to "Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite Beatrice Colin John Murray"

  • dixonticon
    8:50 on June 2nd, 2012
    Reply to comment

    The Luminous Life of Lily Aphrodite opens with Lily’s birth. Her mother could be described as Bohemian and unconventional but her homelife is soon to be replaced by the ‘family’ she inherits as an orphan in a Berlin orphanage. Lily eventually befriends the streetwise Hanne who shows her life outside their home. When the orphanage closes Hanne and Lily lose touch (a recurring theme) and Lily has to grow up in a hurry as she struggles to survive in a brutal, war torn Germany.

    This is where the real story begins and life for Lily just seems to be one trauma to deal with after another.

    Things are bleak, depressing, grim and hopeless. Through it all though, Lily seems to keep her chin up, while all around her people are dropping like flies and making poor choices. There’s not a lot of luminosity in Lily’s life though, despite what the title tells you. I had thought that Lily would make a name for herself as an actress and I’d be able to revel in the success she enjoyed, but mostly there isn’t a lot to celebrate. Any success she has is accidental or brought about by being in the right place at the right time and I never got the impression that Lily was very instrumental in getting to where she was.

    Most of her good luck stems from the fact that she was breathtakingly beautiful with haunting eyes and a voice like a caress…..at least that’s how everyone else sees her, Lily herself doesn’t know what the fuss is about.

    I didn’t hate the book, but it’s difficult for me to really love a book when things are so bleak. I was hoping for the payoff at the end, where some sort of reward was waiting for Lily, to compensate for all the hardship and fight she had to contend with, but No, the end is the worst part of all…..for Lily at least.

    Beautifully written, and very well researched, it’s brings the German era surrounding the first world war and the Weimar rule startlingly into focus.
    I suppose it’s content can be best summed up by the cover artwork …. it’s very Film-Noir.

  • Edie Aliment
    10:46 on June 2nd, 2012
    Reply to comment

    I bought this one on a whim and was hooked from the first page, shutting out everyone and everything until I could finish this book. A mesmerizing story of pre-War Berlin and the magic behind the early German movie industry, this book highlights the plighta of the average citizen during the time, including economic crisis, poverty, inflation, disease, and strife. Lilly is the most amazing character and the book is so riddled with heartache and wonder that it is almost unbelievable. I can’t recommend this book highly enough – it’s the kind of book you wish you could go back and un-read just so you could read it again.

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