The Skylarks’ War by Hilary Mckay


As I write this, Hilary Mckay’s book The Skylarks’ War is the Waterstones book of the month, and I’m not one bit surprised.


I read this over Christmas and can thoroughly recommend it. It is a beautifully written story about young people growing up during World War One, but in particular about Rupert, Peter and Clarry Penrose.

It starts off with hazy summers in Cornwall and the threat of boarding school. We follow the Penroses through their respective educations as they grow into young adults and war is declared.

The book deftly describes social structures, political views and prejudices without them weighing down the narrative. The characters are fully rounded, multifaceted creatures with social restrictions and struggles and passions each their own. The reader is emotionally invested in each and every one of them which is no small feat.

This book is a complex, engrossing, moving and joyous read, that will be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Hilary Mckay is a master of her art, her prose is a delight, and The Skylarks’ War feels like a classic from the very first chapter.

This book has been shortlisted for the Costa award and I would be delighted if it won. There’s something for everyone in this book. Do yourself a favour and grab a copy. It’s pretty special.