The Bossy Bookworm
Review of The Skylark's Secret by Fiona Valpy
Valpy's detailed Scottish setting and character development are wonderful, and I was equally invested in and engaged by both of the interconnected timelines.
The Skylark's Secret has a dual timeline; the story is set in rural Scotland during World War II and decades later in the same village.
Flora and her village are supporting the war effort, temporarily taking in children from Great Britain's cities, driving supplies and ambulances, knitting, and anything else a scrappy community can do to help. Flora's brother as well as their childhood friend, the laird's son, are both serving in the military, and as luck would have it, they're both stationed nearby to make use of their familiarity with the area.
The more modern storyline concerns Flora's grown daughter Lexie, whose London stage career has ended suddenly and whose mother has died. Lexie has returned to the village with a bairn of her own, Daisy. She's eager to dig in and learn more about her mother's wartime history, yet desperate not to be defined and constrained by the small town and sometimes claustrophobic neighborly interest that she was once determined to escape.
Valpy's detailed setting and character development are wonderful, and I was equally invested in and engaged by both of the interconnected timelines. The author winds old Scottish folk songs throughout the book, using it as a fluid way of binding the main protagonists to their country and fellow countrymen. There's a low-key mystery Lexie is set on unraveling--key players are keeping secrets about events decades past--and initially hesitant attempts to reclaim love, song, independence, community, and general fulfillment. Not everything turns out happily in both timelines, but Valpy leaves the reader with a reassuringly satisfying ending.
I received an advance copy of this title from NetGalley and Amazon Publishing UK in exchange for an honest review.
Any Bossy thoughts on this book?
Valpy also wrote The Dressmaker's Gift, another World War II-era story (this time, set in Paris) with dual timelines; The Beekeeper's Promise, set in 1938 France with a second timeline decades later; and Sea of Memories, set in 1937 France and Scotland...with a modern timeline! She's also written other books. So if you're in for Fiona Valpy historical fiction like I now am, you have lots of lovely reading to look forward to.