Young Adult Reviews

Review: A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood

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Extract:

What else was out there for me? The thought of leaving, of somehow making my own path, seemed a daunting impossibility. I was the follower, not the leader, and I truly had no idea where to go next. The Cardew House – even in its dilapidated state – felt like an answer.

(A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood.)

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Synopsis:

Summer 1929. Lou’s sister has married, and now seventeen-year-old Lou is under pressure to do the same. Lou isn’t ready to marry. She wants one glorious golden summer of freedom before she thinks about her future.

The Cardew House has stood empty for as long as Lou can remember. She trespasses, eating apples from the trees and reading detective novels from the library. Now the Cardew family are home and all eyes are on young Robert Cardew and his American fiancée.

Lou befriends Robert and his sister Caitlin, and her summer is filled with parties, but can a farmer’s daughter remain friends with aristocrats in a world obsessed with social division?

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Review:

A brilliant and beautiful book reminiscent of I Capture The Castle and the works of Daphne Du Maurier. If you love big house novels set in the inter-war years, this is a must.

The first word which comes to mind is atmosphere. Laura Wood captures the atmosphere of the era. Think swinging parties and smokey jazz-bars and obsession with the upper-classes. She also captures the protagonist’s age. Lou is on the cusp of adulthood and wants to enjoy her youth. She is thinking about the future but not ready to live adult life. She alternates from very mature feelings to very childish ones at a second’s notice. Anyone who remembers being sixteen or eighteen will remember both wanting the future and wishing it would never come.

I adore the relationships. There is the sibling relationship between Alice and Lou, which is being renegotiated in light of Alice’s marriage and emerging adulthood. Robert Cardew is protective of his little sister Caitlin, and wants to do right by her but can’t see beyond society’s expectations of the upper-classes. Then there are the other relationships – the marriage of convenience between Robert and Laurie and the flirtations between Lou and wealthy bore Charlie. Other relationships shift and emerge over the course of the story. I found myself caring desperately about the outcome.

This is the story of a girl given a taste of a world to which she doesn’t belong. It is also about renegotiating what we thought we knew about society and about other people. It is pure escapism and the writing is exceptional. I can’t wait to get my paws on Laura Wood’s middle-grade detective novels. After reading A Sky Painted Gold, I want to read every word she has written.

 

Thanks to Scholastic UK for my arc of A Sky Painted Gold. Opinions my own.

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