TestMarket - 🌟 Limited-Time Specials: The Swallows' Flight 🌟 Old Price: £7.99. New Price: £5.59 - Save 30%!

🌟 Limited-Time Specials: The Swallows' Flight 🌟 Old Price: £7.99. New Price: £5.59 - Save 30%!

Jun 15, 2024 09:47 am
🌟 Limited-Time Specials: The Swallows' Flight 🌟 Old Price: £7.99. New Price: £5.59 - Save 30%!
Category: Growing Up & Facts of Life
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Rating: 4.70
Total Rating Count: 124
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Title: Spellbinding storytelling - an exquisite novel
Content: A young reader on Booktrust said that the only thing wrong with The Skylarks’ War was that there wasn’t a sequel. Well, now there is. Hilary McKay has written another chapter in this family saga; this time, though, she tackles World War II. The book begins with two young German boys, friends called Hans and Erik. The story alternates with Clarry, Rupert, and the Penrose family as they navigate the inter war years of hardship and changes in society. The German boys join the Hitler Youth and the British family becomes more and more apprehensive about another war. The fact that it’s all told from the perspective of the young people filters a very complex story into a simple, but totally gripping, plot. The characters are incredible. There’s Grandad, who I’m certain is based on a real person, because I know an elderly gentleman he could have been based on! And then there’s Kate; darling Kate, with her weak chest and her propensity to worry about every overheard conversation. She keeps a diary, and she’s just such a genuine, likeable character that I so wanted her to grow into a courageous young woman. You’ll have to read the book to see whether her fears get the better of her! The front jacket design shows Ruby and Kate watching a dog fight in the wartime skies above their home. The remaining character on the front cover is the dog. Now, this dog is a remarkable character in his own right, one to rival Manchee in The Knife of Never Letting Go, who is my favourite non-human character of all time. If you don’t read this book for any other reason, read it for the dog. The dog is possibly the most significant character in the book, but to say more would be to give away too much. I adored this book and had to wipe away tears at the end. I think Amanda Craig described it as ‘bloody brilliant’, and she is absolutely right. The incredible thing is, how does the author take an amazingly complex topic like the Second World War and turn it so effortlessly into a gripping story that isn’t weighted down with facts and history; instead, with the lightest and most skilful of touches, she evokes the time of the rise of the Third Reich, Kristallnacht, and the Holocaust, whilst always respecting the historical record. She shows, through the characters of Hans and Erik, that the ‘Enemy’ were people with families and friendships and hopes and dreams- reminded me of Thomas Hardy’s poem ‘The Man He Killed’. This novel is a great novel, and a captivating story about love, and loss, and war, and peace, and I could not love it more.
Title: Hilary McKay is a brilliant writer
Content: What a wonderful writer Hilary McKay is! I was drawn into this book from the first sentence and finished it almost at a sitting. The Skylarks’ War followed the Penrose family and their friends through the years before and during the First World War. Unlucky generation! The Swallows’ Flight takes them through the years between the wars and to the end of the Second. It begins though, in Germany, where two little boys called Erik and Hans become friends for life. Vanessa is married to surgeon Peter and they now have six children. Peter’s sister Clarry is teaching. Rupert is as charming and insouciant as ever and probably has quite an important government job, which he says nothing about. He and Clarry quarrel a lot and are obviously in love. Clarry’s friend Violet has an annoying son called Will and a girl, Ruby, whom he torments. When war breaks out, it’s the Germans who are worst off. Erik and Hans are in the Luftwaffe and still best friends. They are not Nazis and not keen on killing people. These were the two I found myself most worried about. Their families live in Berlin but relocate to Munich with the help of mysterious ‘Onkel’, who correctly sees Berlin as a target. Meanwhile, Will goes off to France with the BEF, Rupert undertakes a secret mission, Clarry helps everyone as usual. It’s a musical chairs situation of people moving about all the time. Ruby becomes friends with Kate, Vanessa’s youngest and lives with that family for a while. Kate makes a conquest of difficult Grandfather, who has been persuaded to move in with Peter and Vanessa. By the end of the book, Erik and Hans have become part of the Penrose’s lives but no spoilers here. There’s also A Dog. It’s made clear in a subtle way how evil the Nazi treatment of Jews was. In an afterword, Hilary McKay refers to this, saying it’s not her story to tell because she’s not Jewish. I can’t agree with that; do you have to be black to condemn apartheid? She also adds a glossary of terms and explains things modern children may not know about, like how pre-decimal money worked and why children had to be evacuated. This is not, though, in any way an educational or polemical book. Like her others, it shows that the most important things in life are family, friends and kindness to each other. I absolutely loved it and all the characters.
Title: A joy of a novel!
Content: Not another book about the war, I thought. Always the same story, always so sad. But not this one. Yes, the sadness was there, but shining in the midst of the sadness in this novel is the joy of human kindness and the indomitable wartime spirit - on both 'sides' of the wartime divide. Written from several viewpoints, this novel tells the story of a Plymouth girl (like myself), an Oxford family, two boys from Berlin and a dog from a scrapyard! With this novel, I never got the feeling you sometimes get from multiple viewpoint novels where you prefer one storyline over another. I was invested in every one of this crazy bunch of adorable characters. I love the fact that even the dog got his own chapters! This novel made me chuckle, laugh out loud, exclaim "Oh no!", and most definitely cry. It has everything a good story needs, told in the most beautiful way. A wonderful book to teach young adults what it was like in Britain between the wars and during World War 2. And a wonderful book for older adults like myself to revel in and enjoy. It's worth looking up the family trees at the back early on, as the first chapters are a little confusing as you try to work out the connections.
Title: Gorgeous book
Content: Love the first one and love this. Such a heart warming, beautiful book.
Title: Any age could read this
Content: Lovely book
Title: A classic feel to this beautiful, nuanced wartime tale
Content: Hilary McKay is the absolute master at weaving seemingly disparate story strands into the most beautiful tale-tapestry! As a German by birth I particularly appreciated the nuance of this utterly compelling WW2 book. Hugely recommended, I really loved it.

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