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That uestions what it is to remember and how tempting it can be to forget‘Kate Mildenhall’s impressive debut novel takes an historical case and re imagines it with such sensitivity and insight that we feel this must be how it truly happened’ Emily Bit. 35 Skylarking is a work of fiction based on the true story of Harriet Parker her best friend Kate Gibson the hut of Donald McPhail at Cape St George in 1887 I came upon this story while camping with dear friends at Greenpatch camping ground in Jervis Bay New South Wales This is an edited version of the Author s Note at the end of the book and it does show the bare bones of the story she had to work with For her debut she has created a believable story that I think would suit young people as well as an adult audienceKate and Harriet I always think of them in that order because the story is told from Kate s point of view Kate is the instigator of all the adventure the fun the picnics the big picture thinking She s the one who reads all the books Harriet receives as gifts Harriet can t be bothered They live with their families and a handful of others at Cape St George where Kate s father is the head lighthouse keeper There are other children and there have been The various families have been touched by tragedy but it s their parents who suffer most not the girls And we don t really share that suffering because we are in Kate s head Most of their time is spent romping around the island playing on the beach collecting mussels in rock pools and generally dividing their time between household chores and skylarking As they hit their mid teens Harriet matures uickly and finally Kate begins to catch up I knew it was a line I was crossing from childhood to adulthood and I wanted to stay and I wanted to go and I wanted to be able to be in both places forever That one sentence pretty much sums up Kate s attitude to life She wants to live on the cape forever but she wants to see Melbourne and travel the world She doesn t really want to be her motherAnd she feels very much second to Harriet in looks The girls are being fitted for new dresses and I imagine many women have felt this way about themselves Hers was a smooth silhouette tucked in at the waist and curving into the proper shape at the chest whereas Mother always told me that I looked as if I d been wrestled into each dress she made me But she knows that best friends or not they are different creatures I wanted to dive deep down skimming the sandy bottom of the ocean with my bare skin I wanted to glide through fingers of pink weed and velvety fronds of green and come face to face with a mullet or a gummy shark slide up to the rubbery flank of a great whale and feel her song vibrate through my cheek to the very centre of my brain and understand what she told me These were the peculiar thoughts I never shared with Harriet or anyone else Sometimes I felt as if there were something amiss in my make up That all the pieces had not been put together right You couldn t see it from the outside no it was my inside that was awry It made me recoil at the thought of marriage made me dream of sailing away of living beneath the ocean Sometimes on the rocks you could get within a foot of a dead seal if the wind was blowing away from you The rocks would obscure it and you could be right over it about to step into the putrefying flesh before you inhaled the unholy whiff of it and realised you d been breathing it in all along That s all that was needed for me to be found out a wind change and someone would sense what was rotten inside of me The girls are fascinated by a handsome mysterious fisherman McPhail and like to wander around near his cottage kind of tempting fate They have no idea what they might be tempting but they love the thrill Kate is jealous that McPhail and Harriet seem to be a bit attracted to each other and when Harriet returns from a long visit to Melbourne sent away to avoid McPhail they can t help going back thereThe event at the end is the real one on which the book is based and it is a shockerThere are many homespun scenes of baking ginger cakes and puddings and bread and heating up the washing water and minding little children but the main story belongs to the girlsI expect to see from Kate Mildenhall

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Skylarking

Hat flares between him and Harriet she is torn by her feelings of envy and longing But one moment in McPhail’s hut will change the course of their lives forever Inspired by a true story Skylarking is a stunning debut novel about friendship love and loss one. In this debut novel Kate Mildenhall re imagines what could have happened to cause a tragic event that occurred in a small coastal community in the 1880s As the only girls in their mid teens Kate and Harriet are close friends in the isolated community around the lighthouse where Kate s father is the keeper However as they grow older and a handsome fisherman arrives in the community they compete for his attention and jealousy starts to creep into their relationship The tension builds slowly up to the tragic incident that tore apart their lives and their familiesThis is a gently told story It focused mostly on the details of daily life in a small community and the freedom the girls enjoyed as they were growing up but also the need for them to leave one day if they wanted to marry and have families It was easy to relate to Kate who as the narrator told us of her feelings and her yearnings to experience the wider world Harriet felt distant and a little spoiled especially after visiting Melbourne to look for a suitor

Kate Mildenhall ✓ 6 summary

Kate and Harriet are best friends growing up together on an isolated Australian cape in the 1880s As daughters of the lighthouse keepers the two girls share everything until a fisherman McPhail arrives in their small community When Kate witnesses the desire t. is a book that takes an atmospheric and introspective look at the powerful friendship that forms between two young girls while they come of age on an isolated lighthouse community in the 1880 s This powerful Australian literary fiction tale is informed significantly on historical factAt the centre of this debut historical fiction novel is Kate the daughter of a lighthouse keeper Kate shares her life with Harriet the daughter of the other lighthouse keeper Together the best friends endure the loneliness of life near the cape Everything changes for the two young girls when a fisherman named McPhail arrives in their small seaside community When a sense of desire and longing begins to flare for Harriet and McPhail Kate feels left behind This follows a tragic event in the small hut belonging to McPhail The event changes the lives of Kate Harriet and McPhail forever Skylarking is a devastating novel that captures the feelings of love friendship and loss of a young girl in her primeI recently read Salt Creek another moving Australian historical fiction novel written by Lucy Treloar The front cover uote that adorns Skylarking states A brave beautiful and richly textured book that delicately explores the fault lines in love and friendship This uote from acclaimed author Lucy Treloar is completely substantiated Skylarking is an exuisite debut novel that offers one the most powerful examinations into love and friendship I have read for some timeOften the best historical fiction novels are those that are drawn from figures that existed in our past or based events that occurred in times gone by Skylarking is a novel that was inspired by the author s trip to a camping ground where by chance she came across an old grave belonging to Harriet Parker Harriet lived near the lighthouse in the late 1800 s Kate Mildenhall a first time novelist takes this real life figure time period and location and presents the reader with a reconstruction of the events she believes played out between Kate and Harriet The result is an exceptional novel that resonated with meReaders should be impressed by the skill of the prose presented in this novel For a first time author Mildenhall displays great poise Mildenhall s prose is assured and graceful I relished the reading experience I was offered through Skylarking The passages that struck a chord the most for me were the passionately expressed descriptions of the natural surrounding landscape of the isolated cape region in which Kate and Harriet live Eually colourful are the descriptions that give us a glimpse into the way of life on an isolated cape location These include treacherous weather conditions freuent shipwrecks and a lack of opportunity especially for women residing at the capeSkylarking is narrated by Kate Gilbert one of the main protagonists of the novel Kate is an expertly drawn character Mildenhall captures Kate s wide eyed innocence her awakening as a burgeoning young woman her passion and her aspirations to have a life away from the lighthouse Harriet is presented in eual measure character wise by Mildenhall Harriet is a less headstrong than Kate but when the mysterious McPhail enters the girl s lives Harriet s heart is opened to love hard and fast The intensity of these adolescent emotions eventually wreck havoc between the two girls and McPhail the fallout resulting in a tragic love triangle McPhail is a significant character in Skylarking and is rendered with a deft hand Mildenhall builds a strong picture of this stranger and fisherman who unwittingly becomes embroiled in the lives of the two young girls from the capeMildenhall handles the fateful event that occurs with a thoughtful and reflective tone I didn t see the catastrophic event on the horizon at all and the sense of shock it brought to me was unexpected It took some time for me to get my head around what just occurred the finality and the sadness of it all But at the same time the misunderstandings that arose could have prevented this tragic turn of events Skylarking is a book that I needed to take a pensive look at once I brought myself to finish the novel This is an indication of the strength of this novelSkylarking is a refined novel and an outstanding addition to the crop of Australian historical fiction novels that have been released in recent times Mildenhall s approach to conceptualising what happened to a real life figure Harriet Parker in the 1800 s at the lighthouse community is to be applauded Skylarking is a stirring title that deserves high acclaim


10 thoughts on “Skylarking

  1. says:

    35 Absolutely beautiful setting described wonderfully An isolated Cape in Australia a lighthouse keeper his family and a few others that live on the Cape and two girls with a friendship they hope will last forever Days filled with fun adventure secrets chores too of course but we all grow up A new young man arrives on the Cape and this and he will change things between the girls create a fissure in their friendshipIt is rare these days to

  2. says:

    This was a beautiful book to read the story of two young girls growing up in a very small community in Australi

  3. says:

    is a book that takes an atmospheric and introspective look at the powerful friendship that forms between two young girls while they come of age on an isolated lighthouse community in the 1880’s This powerful Australian literary fiction tal

  4. says:

    What a joy and relief these days to read a novel that is simply told There is no jumping around in time and no changing points of view but just a novel of two girls growing up and their friendship It also accurately portrays the jealousy and

  5. says:

    Kate and Harriet had been best friends all their lives – Kate’s father was the head lighthouse keeper and Harriet’s father was his assistant Together their families had lived through heat cold; summers and winters on t

  6. says:

    In this debut novel Kate Mildenhall re imagines what could have happened to cause a tragic event that occurred in a small coastal community in the 1880s As the only girls in their mid teens Kate and Harriet are close friends in the isolated community around the lighthouse where Kate's father is the keeper Howe

  7. says:

    This first novel is inspired by the true story of two friends Kate Gibson and Harriet Parker They were the daughters of lighthouse kee

  8. says:

    35★“ Skylarking is a work of fiction based on the true story of Harriet Parker her best friend Kate Gibson the hut of Donald McPhail at Cape St George in 1887 I came upon this story while camping with dear friends at Greenpatch camping ground in Jervis Bay New South Wales”This is an edited version of the Author’s Note at the end of the book and it does show the bare bones of the story she had to work w

  9. says:

    Set in a tiny lighthouse community in the Jervis Bay area towards the end of the 19th century this is the story of best fri

  10. says:

    wwwonewomansbbrwordpresscomwwwfacebookcomonewomansbbrSkylarking by Kate Mildenhall 2016 As daughters of lighthouse keepers Kate and Harriet are best friends growing up together on as isolated Australian cape in the 1880s Everything changes with the arrival of the fisherman McPhail and Kate sees the attraction

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