Brought up in an austere and cold London house in the haphazard care of their largely absent father and a short-tempered housekeeper, Peter and Clarry long for each summer when they can escape to their grandparent’s house in Cornwall. Here they and their kind and charismatic cousin Rupert taste true freedom and a kindling of mutual kindness and understanding.
Yet beyond their Skylark summers, forces are pulling them apart, with Peter sent to boarding school and Clary left at home. When the Great War breaks out and Rupert enlists, it seems that their lives will be forever changed.
A seasoned storyteller – she won the Whitbread Award for her bestseller Saffy’s Angel – Hilary Mackay knows how to craft an utterly engrossing tale and pull her readers into its embrace and, in The Skylarks’ War, her talents are given full rein. Vividly capturing the poignancy of golden summers, gradually stolen by history’s unforgiving march, McKay creates a story of lives shaped and sustained by memory and family. There is much poignancy to be found in the way she explores the alterations wrought upon her characters by the pain and anguish of war, but this is tempered by a deft understanding of what remains and sustains us when the world is at its darkest.