Friday, October 29, 2021

The Skylark's War, by Hilary McKay

Clarry Penrose is cherry and upbeat, finding the positive in everyone around her.  Even though her father sees no value in her education, she persists in her dream of becoming an independent woman.  Her brother comes through and encourages her to study.  Summers are spent in Cornwall with their cousin Rupert, who is older and wiser, and he also encourages her.  And so, despite the odds, Clarry is on her way.  But with the arrival of the Great War comes Rupert's surprise decision to enlist and Clarry worries that he may never return.  When in fact a telegram arrives stating that Rupert is lost in action, Clarry agonizes and drops everything to find him, jeopardizing the pursue of her dreams.

A surprisingly retro book, written in a style of children's literature that really hasn't been actively practiced much in recent decades.  Clarry doesn't really have any adventures of note and you'll search hard for any passages that are particularly humorous.  This is simply a straight chronological account of her education progress and various troubles that her brother, cousin, and related family members go through.  There's no real message or defined purpose.  It's just a glimpse at a life.

The story is well written, but I am a jaded modern reader and I want a novel to have a purpose or a concept to justify its existence.  This instead just seemed trite, wasting opportunities to explore all of the societal changes occurring in the era (that McKay talks about in the afterword but never really explores in the story).

No comments: