Book review: The Skylark’s Secret by Fiona Valpy

Title: The Skylark’s Secret

Author: Fiona Valpy

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Publication date: 29th September 2020

My rating: ★ ★ ★ 


Loch Ewe, 1940. When gamekeeper’s daughter Flora’s remote highland village finds itself the base for the Royal Navy’s Arctic convoys, life in her close-knit community changes forever. In defiance of his disapproving father, the laird’s son falls in love with Flora, and as tensions build in their disrupted home, any chance of their happiness seems doomed.

Decades later, Flora’s daughter, singer Lexie Gordon, is forced to return to the village and to the tiny cottage where she grew up. Having long ago escaped to the bright lights of the West End, London still never truly felt like home. Now back, with a daughter of her own, Lexie learns that her mother—and the hostile-seeming village itself—have long been hiding secrets that make her question everything she thought she knew.

As she pieces together the fragments of her parents’ story, Lexie discovers the courageous, devastating sacrifices made in her name. It’s too late to rekindle her relationship with her mother, but can Lexie find it in her heart to forgive the past, to grieve for all that’s lost, and finally find her place in the world?

My review:

Told in dual timelines and spanning several decades, The Skylark’s Secret explores what it means to be a mother and to find one’s place in the world. Family relationships are tested are friendships are formed with issues such as class and background forming the backbone of this story.

As with other books by this author, setting plays a huge role in shaping the essence of the plot and story line. Scotland, and in particular the village and sea, were an interesting choice and it was fascinating to see the changes between Flora’s story line in the WW2 setting and Lexie’s in the 70s. I skimmed over a lot of the marine language however thoroughly enjoyed the vivid descriptions of the Scottish Highlands.

Historical Fiction told in dual timelines is often hard to follow however the two storylines were beautifully intertwined with a lot of similarities in the two characters’ paths. Unfortunately I couldn’t connect with either of the two main characters in the same way that I usually do with other previous books by this author. Some of the minor characters were quirky and interesting but could not hold my attention and I ultimately left and came back to the book several times.

This is a beautiful story of resilience and compassion with impressive storytelling and a fantastic setting. Despite several slow parts and a set of average characters I finished it with a smile on my face and sense that it will be a pleasurable read for many fans of the genre.

The Skylark’s Secret is out to buy today!

Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing a free advanced reader’s copy in exchange for my honest review.

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