May heard the wonderful tongue twisting phrase ‘no lily-livered girls’when she was a teenager, and it stayed with her all her life. It became a common saying in our family as we talked about our courageous girls and women, and was therefore a natural title for the fourth book in the May series.
There is a dramatic story in the third chapter of ‘No Lily-livered Girl’ when May and her friend Iris visit Mrs Revell, an old lady whose husband was in the militia during the New Zealand land wars in the 1800s. Mrs Revell recounts the story of hiding in a well for twelve hours, on a makeshift platform, clasping her young baby to her breast, when she was 18 years old, while her husband and two other men kept 40 Māori warriors at bay through the night. The terror of the night leaps off the page.
Mrs Revell discovered her courage in that well and talked of how she was not a lily-livered girl and learnt she could be brave and courageous. She liked May and told her that she did not look like a lily-livered girl either.
I look at the women in my direct family line …none of us are lily-livered and this has held us in good stead as we go through life and face its many challenges. My little grand daughter (May’s great-great- granddaughter) displays all the characteristics of not being a lily-livered girl!
As I sit here on a humid summer afternoon proof reading this latest book on the reprint list, I am thinking of how this book is a lot more ‘grown up’ than the previous three, but that is of course because May is growing up. It is a big book, and a lot happens! May is fourteen and apprenticed to a dressmaker in Hamilton, working ten hour days and homesick for the farming country she has left. She wants to be a ‘modern girl,’ and clashes with her mother over the way things should be done. The first world war is looming
This book was originally published in 1993, only in hardback and in an oversized A5 format. We have had the book scanned and I am busy checking and formatting text which will then be re-paged by our book designer into a standard A5 size with the aim of reprinting in early February. We are working hard to bring you the fourth and fifth books to complete the May series, and hope you are enjoying the first 3 three books as you await the reprinting of “No Lily-livered Girl”.
– Mary Johnston, January 2018