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Hilary McKay s storytelling is so very lovely the structure of her sentences so supple and clear her characters so utterly real You don t have to want to be there with them, you are This is called Love to Everyone in the US but I like the British title better. This is so meticulously plotted that I don t quite know how to untangle what didn t work for me from what absolutely did I ll start by saying that, as a war book, this isn t as successful to me as The Road Home or Rilla of Ingleside. It s too contemporary for that Something about it screams historical fiction instead of product of its time Part of that might be Clarry, who s oblivious for a good chunk of the book, which blunts its impact Part of that is the way the book tries to be everything at once a family story McKay absent parenting and a found family story and an empowerment story and a war book It s small scale and large scale at once, and so ambitious that it becomes unbalanced.It has incredible high moments Clarry had had private worlds before, but they had all been in her head She had never had a private world with real live people in it Now she had At the new school she was not Peter s nuisance sister, Rupert s little cousin, her grandparents youngest grandchild, Mrs Morgan s kitchen helper, Miss Vane s Good Deed, and her father s personal destruction At school she was Clarry Penrose People noticed her smile and her too long skirt, her quietness, her chopped off hair, and the speed with which she could climb a rope in the gym She became a person who walked miles to school, could be asked about math, honestly loved Latin, would remove unwanted spiders, and never had any money A bit of an oddity, but so were many others It was a good school, and accepted oddities as long as they had brains.I love the story of Clarry s education how she gets herself into high school, and then into Oxford and yet that s something that tripped me up, too she doesn t fit as a compatriot of Harriet Vane Is it fair to hold McKay to the standards of Dorothy Sayers Clarry is great, but Harriet lives.I think it s because Clarry has to compete with this, whereas Harriet is her story The line was the shape of a long, lopsided smile A ravenous, expectant smile A greedy, unreasonable smile, considering how very, very well it was fed.On either side of the line were the armies Neither was winning, although not because they didn t try Absolutely ordinary people made considerable efforts to kill other absolutely ordinary people whom they had never even met.Things didn t get better they got worse.And all this point of view shifting away from Clarry s story gets tangled up with the desire of the boys on the front to spare the people at home generally everyone s desire to spare Clarry specifically Peter s rage that Rupert distracts Clarry from her work and so this book almost feels unsure of what its focus should be I think it would work better as a Noel Streatfeild book, with the focus on the home front lines like For those in peril on the sea sang the girls, and of course the seas were perilous, that was well known from poetry feel very Streatfeildian in tone Perhaps that s another thing that makes the book feel too contemporary Streatfeild, after all, didn t write about WWI And the ending is entirely Traveling Shoes which is fantastic, don t get me wrong I m just not sure that the ending s extremely selective focus on Rupert his lack of resolution, that arc that goes from golden boy to traumatized by war, and then stops there, while the rest of them get pages worth of excellent resolution fits this story.This is compelling There s a chance it s compelling as a story within a story I m going to reread Binny in Secret, just to be sure but it is good But it s not as good as it could be, and the story kept presenting me with examples of that, over and over. This book is written for 9 12 year olds but I ve thoroughly enjoyed it It has won so many awards I really wanted to see what it was all about I knew I d love it for the Cornwall references alone, but it is also a beautifully written account of a young family who all become teenagers during the Second World War who are torn apart in various ways, not just the obvious ones Many of the issues are pretty deep would soar over the heads of the average 9 year old but written in such a way that it won t offend or upset younger readers I adore Hilary Mckay s way of explaining the unexplainable, particularly when it comes to war The armies are made up of Perfectly reasonable people, the sort who in their previous lives let wasps out of windows read story books to children, doing all the proper voices flinched at flat notes and hardly ever shouted, got drunk or forgot their mother s birthdays absolutely ordinary people made considerable efforts to kill other absolutely ordinary people whom they had never met. These are the kids from Binny in Secret, right I m not making that up Anyway, this is a short book, but it FEELS big It also feels old school, the way it follows Clarry from childhood to adulthood I miss books like that.It also doesn t pull it s WWI punches, wow.I recommend it. Occasionally, very occasionally, you read a book that slips so perfectly into the canon that it seems as if it was always there That you read it as a child, reread it over and over, until it forms part of you along with Anne Shirley and Jo March, the Fossil sisters, Jo Bettany and Veronica Weston and Nicola Marlowe the Skylarks War is such a book.Clarry s birth coincides with her mother s death, and her father, who only misses out on tyranny through indifference, thinks it s a shame she didn t depart along with the wife he s too selfish to mourn Somehow Clarry holds on and, along with her brother Peter, is half brought up by a series of well meaning neighbours, housekeepers and, in the summer, they head to Cornwall and her grandparents and adored older cousin, Rupert Peter at least is given an education although the threat of boarding school hangs heavily over him but Clarry is sent instead to two elderly women who barely teach her to sew let alone think Not that she lets that stop herThere is so much packed into the book it feels like it should be a whole series We follow Clarry from birth to womanhood and yet no part of her life feels hurried through Like any book that starts in the early 1900s there s a sense of inevitability, a knowledge of the upheaval about to hit the children as they reach adulthood and yet when the war comes it s as shocking to us as it is for them.This is a wonderful book filled with unforgettable characters, the kind of characters that seem to exist outside the pages Clarry and Peter, Rupert, their friends Vanessa and Simon, Miss Vane and Mrs Morgan and Mr King The Streatfield comparisons are deserved, Vicarage Family Streatfield my favourite kind than Ballet Shoes although the Fossils would have found a kindred spirit in Clarry.The Skylarks War deserves to win every award going but than that it deserves to be read, to be on every bookshelf of every bookworm throughout the land It s not a modern day classic It s a classic. Very much a deserved winner of any book award Slow and steady in pace, Skylark s War gently promenades us through the early years of our protagonist, Clarry as she spends her youth between her insular and deeply self centred father I realise there is here than McKay lets on and her grandparents on the coast As we peer at this world over Clarry s innocent and ignorant shoulder, we see it change and darken with the advent of war and the loss of those that she loves Relationships change and are challenged and Clarry must make a choice between embracing that transition into adulthood or remaining within the comforting shadow of servitude to her father I understand why many write about how they wanted to be friends with the entire cast much of this is down to McKay s excellent prose and careful planning but it was Clarry all the way for me A delight from start to finish Never too ignorant and strong of mind and heart This is, to an extent, a Goldengrovefor a younger generation and I welcome it. Clarry was 3 days old when her mother died The Skylarks War is a poignant narrative following the lives of Clarissa Clarry , her brother Peter and cousin Rupert Growing up at a time when the world outside was amidst turmoil, the three and their friends build happy memories together that are at stake during the world war The pity of war that Owen once wrote about has been brought out once again from the perspective of a kids growing into adults Although the book does get a bit draggy owing to the monotonous writing style, the plot has been executed brilliantly.Hilary McKay lists a long bibliography and the book is pretty well researched as well, which is a plus point for any book that is set against the backdrop of the world war I have been reading War Poets like Owen, Sassoon and Rosenberg lately and this book was indeed a great way to share an alternate perspective. I quickly realised why this book had won The Costa and was amazed it hadn t won yet.Clarry, Peter and their older cousin Rupert are characters to take into your heart forever Told through the innocent childhood eyes of Clarry, McKay is able to tackle some heavy issues Family dysfunction, bullying, sexism and feminist issues, homosexuality and the hardships of war are all in this book McKay hints at stuff, leads us up to a point, but she never tells us or explains She leaves us to work it out and make the connections ourselves, as all the best stories do.The Skylarks War will make you laugh and cry I found myself hugging it to my chest several times and wondering how many people I could make read this book asap.Full review here What an amazing and moving story My wife read it first and couldn t put it down She kindly passed it on to me and I read it in a day I am a history teacher and often have issues with books set in the World Wars as the writers tend to make obvious errors but this was beautifully written and I felt captured the mood of the war years I was moved almost to tears in places It reminded me of so many amazing books like War Horse, the Railway Children and maybe Swallows and s With All quiet on the Western Front in there too For a children s novel it was quite brutally honest about how hard and dark the Western Front could be.Dare I say a modern classic I am going to recommend this for the school library and my students What a lovely story. `DOWNLOAD EBOOK ⇻ The Skylarks’ War ⇺ Clarry And Her Older Brother Peter Live For Their Summers In Cornwall, Staying With Their Grandparents And Running Free With Their Charismatic Cousin, Rupert But Normal Life Resumes Each September Boarding School For Peter And Rupert, And A Boring Life For Clarry At Home With Her Absent Father, As The Shadow Of A Terrible War Looms Ever Closer When Rupert Goes Off To Fight At The Front, Clarry Feels Their Skylark Summers Are Finally Slipping Away From ThemCan Their Family Survive This Fearful War The Skylarks War Is A Beautiful Story Following The Loves And Losses Of A Family Growing Up Against The Harsh Backdrop Of World War One, From The Award Winning Hilary McKay