The Particular Appeal of Gillian Pugsley

Written by Susan Ornbratt Susan Ӧrnbratt
Review by Mary O'Donnell

Susan Ӧrnbratt’s exuberantly readable novel The Particular Appeal of Gillian Pugsley centers on the life and adventures of its title heroine, who begins the narrative as eighteen-year-old Gillian McAllister. She leaves her home in Ireland to visit her sister in London and from there the narrative follows her travels across half the world.

Ӧrnbratt skilfully moves her richly historical plotlines forward through decades, taking readers through the irrepressible Gillian’s responses to devastating events like the Great Depression and the Second World War – and, incidentally, her responses to the dashing young man whose love complicates her life. Threaded through the story is a buried secret that imparts a tension to events, and Ӧrnbratt adeptly plays that secret right out to the novel’s final pages. The book’s historical details are richly atmospheric, and the character of Gillian herself is so charismatic and likable that she easily carries the whole novel.

This is a sunny, involving novel with a delicious twist at the end – recommended.