Book Review: Skylarking by Kate Mildenhall

Kate and Harriet are best friends who grow up on an isolated cape in the 1880’s where their fathers are the lighthouse keepers. They do everything together and as they grow into young women their lives are disrupted by the arrival of a man, McPhail. A moment in his cabin changes their lives forever.

The author, picked over the bones of a true story and imagined the lives of the girls. From the first line and last lines in the prologue, the reader is propelled head-long toward the climax.

“The sky was clear and blue forever that day.”

“I remember the way Harriet turned, breathless, laughing, a strand of her golden hair caught on her bottom lip. After that, I try not to remember.”

We are dropped into the stunning wilderness of the cape near Jervis Bay, NSW, and into the lives of the families. We are privy to everything about the girl’s friendship, their deep love for each other and the expectation of them as young women in that era. Loyalties are tested and risks taken as we are led to the edge of the cliff and back again.

The writing is beautiful and evocative; the cover stunning. This is a wonderful Australian debut novel by Kate Mildenhall.

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