The Skylarks War by Hilary McKay

To End All Wars

The Skylarks War by Hilary McKay is a delightful children’s historical novel to be enjoyed by ages ten to adult. The story begins in 1902 continuing into World War I.

The reader follows two siblings, their cousin and friends. We get to know them intimately. We like them and care about their outcomes. We watch as they grow and develop before becoming embroiled in war. Their idyllic childhood summers contrast with the battlefields of World War I. War effects those at home and at the Front. Lies are told to keep spirits high. What purpose would it serve to reveal the true horrors of war? The reader gets caught up in the patriotic fervour as we witness the preparations of parcels and letters.

Massive changes occurred during the first part of the twentieth century, not least the role of women. Ironically it would be World War I that helped to advance the cause and voice of women. Clarry’s desire for an education resulted in an amusing exchange with her father. ” ‘Why on earth would you want that type of education?’ ‘To learn things.’… ‘What would be the point?’ asked her truly baffled father.”

Boys were sent to boarding school, an institution that made or broke them. The reader glimpses the loneliness and also the camaraderie of the boys bonding over tuck. It was very reminiscent of my girlhood reads of Enid Blyton’s Mallory Towers. Bonds formed in youth survive.

In spite of being considerably older than ten, I really enjoyed The Skylarks War. Hilary McKay has really caught the atmosphere of the time and the horrors of war. The whole period really comes alive. I think The Skylarks War should be studied by year seven and eight in schools as part of the national curriculum. I would love to see The Skylarks War turned into a film – any BBC producers out there, please take note.

An absolutely cracking read.

I received this book for free from Net Galley. A favourable review was not required and all views expressed are my own.




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