Book Review: The Skylarks' War by Hilary Mckay (ARC)



Genre: Fiction/ Young Readers

Publishers: Pan Macmillan India

Behind the Book

Clarry and her older brother Peter live for their summers in Cornwall, staying with their grandparents and running free with their charismatic cousin, Rupert. But normal life resumes each September – boarding school for Peter and Rupert, and a boring life for Clarry at home with her absent father, as the shadow of a terrible war looms ever closer. When Rupert goes off to fight at the front, Clarry feels their skylark summers are finally slipping away from them. Can their family survive this fearful war? The Skylarks' War is a beautiful story following the loves and losses of a family growing up against the harsh backdrop of World War One, from the award-winning Hilary McKay.

About the Author
Hilary McKay was born in Boston, Lincolnshire and is the eldest of four girls. From a very early age she read voraciously and grew up in a household of readers. Hilary says of herself as a child "I anaesthetised myself against the big bad world with large doses of literature. The local library was as familiar to me as my own home."

After reading Botany and Zoology at St. Andrew's University Hilary then went on to work as a biochemist in an Analysis Department. Hilary enjoyed the work but at the same time had a burning desire to write. After the birth of her two children, Hilary wanted to devote more time to bringing up her children and writing so decided to leave her job.

One of the best things about being a writer, says Hilary, is receiving letters from children. She wishes that she had written to authors as a child, but it never occurred to her to contact them

Hilary now lives in a small village in Derbyshire with her family. When not writing Hilary loves walking, reading, and having friends to stay..

"I thought I'd die here, when I first came. Clarry kept me alive with her letters and her butterflies."

After a long time, I came across a truly heart-warming read which made me laugh and cry. This story is about Clarry (a.k.a Clarrisa) , her older brother Peter and their cousin Rupert. Clarry comes across as an inquisitive girl who is curious about anything and everything, strives to make a difference to the world and holds her loved ones close to her heart for the fear of losing them. As the story progresses we witness their camaraderie and friendship grow stronger with every passing day. It reminded me of my childhood and the letters I sent home from hostel.

"Clarry was three days old when her mother died."

In a moving portrayal of family bonds and relationships, Hilary Mckay presents a beautiful story set against the backdrop of World War 1. Written in a tender manner, the story is one that can make you experience a gamut of emotions by the time you finish reading it. It is funny, thrilling and touching with vivid descriptions making it an engaging read.

Though there are certain portions where the narrative feels slow and dragged but otherwise the pace of the book is pretty enjoyable. Backed with ample research, the author manages to make that era come alive in her writing. The bond between the three main characters and how they struggle to keep it intact amidst the turmoil their lives go through thanks to the World War has been emoted beautifully and manages to tug your heart.

It is interesting to see a time when relationships were actually valued more than anything else, people lived upto their words, wrote long letters sharing their hearts with each other and tried to make a change in someone else's life purely because they felt it was needed. The story also sheds light on how women in those days were frowned upon for harbouring dreams and ambitions (not that much has changed since then!).

A wonderful moving read, one that leaves you with a sense of fulfillment of having read a great story this one will remain special for many reasons. Recommended, for more than one reasons.

Foodie Verdict

This book is like Strawberry Cheesecake- reminiscent of all things childhood with joy and love hidden in every bite!
Source: Food Network