About the Book
Kate and Harriet are best friends growing up together on an isolated Australian cape. As the daughters of the lighthouse keepers, the two girls share everything, until a fisherman, McPhail, arrives in their small community.
When Kate witnesses the desire that flares between him and Harriet, she is torn by her feelings of envy and longing. An innocent moment in McPhail’s hut then occurs that threatens to tear their peaceful community apart.
Inspired by a true story, Skylarking is a spellbinding tale of friendship and desire, memory and truth, which questions what it is to remember and how tempting it can be to forget.
Skylarking is a fictionalized account of a true event that occurred in the 1880s in Jervis Bay, a remote area in Australia. Kate and Harriet have been friends throughout childhood, their fathers both work at the lighthouse. There is two years between them and as they get older Kate feels like she is being left behind. Harriet is keen to find a husband and her mother wants her to go to Melbourne rather than stay on the cape. It is on her return that tragedy strikes.
The most powerful part of this novel was the description of the area. The isolation, the danger of the sea and what it must have been like for the people who lived there. The challenges faced by the men desperate to help stricken sailors and I could visualize the men who were desperate to get a beached whale back in the sea and the frustration felt by others who wanted to earn money from her.
Even though the tale of the friendship was fiction I still found it believable. Harriet was a little spoiled, the only child whose mother wanted better for her. Kate was aware of how much her family needed her but also wished for her own life. Their relationship showed devotion, jealousy, a need to protect and a need to be noticed. I would have liked to know and understand McPhail a bit more but his enigmatic demeanour and his brashness probably contributed to his appeal.
The attitude to the Aborigines left me feeling a little uncomfortable but I should imagine it was an accurate portrayal for the time in which it was set. And it did change slightly towards the end.
When I finished this novel, I was searching the internet for days trying to find out more information about the actual event. Apart from photos of the lighthouse and cottages in ruins I found nothing. Which for anybody who knows me will know how annoying I found this. I guess though that it would be a fascinating area to visit.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.