We Shall See the Sky Sparkling. Susana Aikin. Kensington. January 2019. 416 pp. ISBN#: 9781496717658.
Lily Throop, despite her father’s vehement disapproval, has a dream to become a famous actress and leaves home to accomplish that plan. Although she has no recommendations or supporting patron, she manages to obtain an apprenticeship or low-paid position as an actress at London’s Imperial Theatre. She meets an actor/mentor, Wade, who truly helps to hone her already special skills but unfortunately she becomes a prisoner to him by way of a contract which she cannot break. That relationship also ruins a budding romance with a poor stagehand, Chet, who loves Lily but cannot get past Wade’s hold on her.
Lily does become famous and meets numerous wealthy men and women when she is not working very hard. Finally, she meets a Russian count, Sergei, who is also a true revolutionary supporter. Lily by that point has heard about the playwright and teacher, Stanislavsky, who is teaching a new method of acting. During one of Lily’s crisis scenes with Wade, Lily elopes to Russia with Sergei. The descriptions of her journey and of Russian cities and the country are stunning and make one want to visit there. After Lily becomes pregnant, her opportunities to return to England are stymied by the arrest of Sergei. Because of his noble background, he is exiled to the cold Siberian countryside, one which Lily shares. There they learn to endure and to support each other. However, their relationship begins to dim when Sergei refuses to give up his political visionary dreams and disaster occurs.
Lily will eventually find her true love but not until a lifetime of work, travel and dedication have welded her to both her career and her child.
This is a beautiful novel, written with great attention to setting, history and the arts. Lily is a dynamic character who although not deeply depicted moves readers profoundly because of the depth she expresses in her art. The Russian pre-Revolutionary period is also depicted with stark accuracy. Lily is the one who sees they skies sparkling but also becomes the same for her devoted fans.
Nicely crafted historical fiction, Susana Aikin!