Song of the Skylark by Erica James
10th March 2016
Lizzie has always had an unfortunate knack of attracting bad luck, but this time she’s hit the jackpot. Losing her heart to her boss leads to her losing her job, and with no money in the bank, Lizzie finds herself forced to move back home with her parents. When she reluctantly takes a voluntary job, she meets Mrs Dallimore, a seemingly ordinary elderly woman with an astonishing past . . .
Now in her nineties, Mrs Dallimore is also reluctantly coming to terms with her situation. Old age is finally catching up with her. As she and Lizzie form the bond of unexpected friendship, Mrs Dallimore tells the story of a young girl who left America before the outbreak of World War Two and, in crossing an ocean, found herself embarking on a new life she couldn’t have imagined.
As Lizzie listens to Mrs Dallimore, she begins to realise that she’s not the only person to attract bad luck, and that sometimes life has a way of surprising you . . .
Poor Lizzie Moran is pretty down on her luck right now. After an affair with her (married) boss, Lizzie loses her job at Starlight Radio and finds herself leaving the bright lights of London to return to living with her parents in Suffolk. Regarded as a bit of a flibbertigibbet, disaster seems to follow Lizzie around and has done ever since she was a child, unlike her twin brother, Luke, who seems to live a relatively easy life in comparison.
When her mother convinces her to volunteer at Woodside nursing home whilst on the hunt for another job, Lizzie is somewhat reluctant. However, after a shaky start she gets chatting to one of the residents, an elderly lady called Clarissa Dallimore. As the pair get to know one another, Mrs Dallimore shares the stories from her past with an enraptured Lizzie as she reveals what it was like being a young girl who left America to visit England and track down her estranged family during the late 1930s. Then with the outbreak of World War Two, Clarissa is forced to lead a life that she never could have imagined, even in her wildest dreams, as she forms friendships and bonds that she will remember for a lifetime…
Mrs Dallimore’s memories force Lizzie to take a long hard look at herself, as she comes to realise what’s really important and to be valued in her own life…
Erica James’ enchanting new novel is spread over two different time-frames, as we are introduced to Lizzie living out her disastrous life in the present day and then learn about Clarissa’s shocking and eventful life living in Suffolk during the second world war. We first join Clarissa as a young girl after the death of both her parents. She is about to embark upon a trip over to Britain in an attempt to reconcile with her grandparents. The story that follows is a fascinating tale of friendship, hope, despair and above all, love.
I loved getting to know all of the characters, past and present, but will freely admit that going back in time and joining Clarissa, Effie, Artie, Ellis and co were my favourite parts of the novel. I was fascinated by their friendship and Clarissa’s life. She showed such courage and bravery as a young woman and I couldn’t help but admire her whilst my heart broke for everything that she experienced, especially during the horror-years of World War Two. All I wanted was for her to get her happy ending and I was intrigued as, despite spending these years surrounded by so many people, she was now completely alone as an elderly resident of Woodside. What happened to everyone? How did she spend the rest of her life?
The friendship forged between Lizzie and Mrs Dallimore was extremely touching and it gave me a warm, fuzzy glow inside. I felt sorry for Lizzie and, like Mrs Dallimore, I knew that there was more to her than first meets the eyes. Yes, she’s made some mistakes but she is certainly not alone in doing so…
I loved the interaction between these two characters, right from the moment when Lizzie nearly tips poor Mrs Dallimore out of her wheelchair! Their connection was so very precious and I guarantee it will bring a tear to your eye.
I have read and loved many of Erica James’ previous novels but this is hands-down my favourite. It was an absolute joy from start to finish and one that I can’t stop thinking about. I became obsessed with the lovely group of characters and emotionally involved with their stories.
The thing that I love most about Erica’s storytelling is how she manages to combine humour with love, life and at the base of it all, a hugely enthralling plot.
Song of the Skylark is one of those books that I guarantee you will miss once you have finished reading. I feel lost now these characters are longer in my life; surely that’s the sign of an outstanding book? There were just so many things right with this novel for me. I’d even go so far as to say it’s perfection in the form of a novel.
Congratulations on Book 20, Erica. Here’s to the next 20…
A huge thank you to Elaine at Orion for the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful tour & share Erica’s 20th Book Birthday celebrations. ♥
With an insatiable appetite for other people’s business, Erica James will readily strike up conversation with strangers in the hope of unearthing a useful gem for her writing. She finds it the best way to write authentic characters for her novels, although her two grown-up sons claim they will never recover from a childhood spent in a perpetual state of embarrassment at their mother’s compulsion.
The author of many bestselling novels, including GARDENS OF DELIGHT, which won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award, and her recent Sunday Times top ten bestsellers, SUMMER AT THE LAKE and THE DANDELION YEARS, Erica now divides her time between Suffolk and Lake Como in Italy, where she strikes up conversation with unsuspecting Italians.
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