Day 715: Lark

Cover for LarkJust an aside to start. When I was in high school, I had a job at the public library. There I discovered lots of authors I may not have come across elsewhere, and one of them was a writer of books for teens and preteens who specialized in historical novels featuring likable, feisty heroines. I read every one the library had.

Years later, I would try to remember who this author was to see if I could find some of her books and discover whether I still liked them as much. But all I could remember was she had a relatively common name that started with W. I searched Amazon for children’s books with authors beginning with a W. There are a lot of them. Then one day just awhile ago, a word popped into my head, “Lark.” A Google query accomplished the rest. I found a wonderful page on a site specializing in children’s books called “Stump the Bookseller” where you could ask exactly that kind of question, and more than one person asking about the author of a historical novel with a character named Lark. The author was Sally Watson. A little more searching found she is back in print.

* * *

Elizabeth Lennox has not been called by her nickname of Lark since her Uncle Jeremiah came and took her away from her family. He always thought she would make a good wife for her cousin Will-of-God if she was just raised correctly. Since he is one of Oliver Cromwell’s officers and Lark’s father was away fighting with the Royalists, he could do what he wanted. So, he took Lark away and she has been living miserably in a Puritan household ever since. She has no desire to marry Will-of-God, whom she dislikes. She deliberately tries to appear young so that her uncle won’t realize how close she is to being marriageable.

Lark has had nowhere else to go, since her family had to leave for the continent after their property was confiscated. But one day she receives word from her sister up in Scotland, so she decides to go there, not realizing how far away the Highlands are from southern England. She sneaks out of the house in the middle of the night and sets off.

James Trelawney is a young Royalist who disguises himself as a Roundhead to run errands and pass messages in the interests of Charles II. He comes along as Lark is being accosted by a Puritan man after singing a Cavalier song on the road. James takes her for a child, for she looks much younger than her thirteen years. After tossing the Puritan into the river, he reluctantly agrees to take her north, but only because she seems to be too young to leave on her own and she won’t tell him who she is. The two of them have adventures involving intrigue, capture, travels with gypsies, and other exciting incidents.

When I reread a children’s or young adult book, I try to evaluate how interesing it is for both the adult and the intended audience. I don’t think Lark has as much to offer an adult as some of the old classics I’ve reread recently, such as The Secret Garden or Anne of Green Gables. However, I did enjoy it as a bit of light reading. It is written for girls around ten to thirteen or fourteen years old. Although I loved it as a sixteen-year-old, older teens today may be a bit too sophisticated for it. I’m not sure. Still, it has plenty to recommend it, a good background in the history and a pleasant way of presenting it—through James’ confusion about his own loyalties—adventure, humor, and light romance. It is much more innocent than many of today’s books for teens, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

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11 thoughts on “Day 715: Lark

  1. Lory @ Emerald City Book Review June 4, 2015 / 12:29 pm

    This sounds lovely! Reminds me somewhat of another obscure book I found in a library — Elizabeth Elizabeth. Wait, who was the author of that again? Oh, help…

    • whatmeread June 4, 2015 / 12:47 pm

      Yeah, doesn’t that drive you crazy? It’s a good book, and I have reread several more by her that I’ll be reviewing later on.

      • Lory @ Emerald City Book Review June 6, 2015 / 6:31 pm

        My library actually has this one, hooray! But not any others by this author, unfortunately. Well, it’s better than nothing.

      • whatmeread June 8, 2015 / 7:27 am

        Well, it can give you a good idea if you’d like to look for the others! I hope you like it.

  2. Naomi June 4, 2015 / 12:39 pm

    I’m all for innocence!

    • whatmeread June 4, 2015 / 12:49 pm

      I think for kids, yeah, but I’m just thinking that if the kid is reading stuff like Twilight, they won’t like it. It’s hard for me to tell. I read anything I wanted when I was young, and that included some pretty questionable books, but books like Twilight weren’t fashionable at that time for teenagers. Everything was much more innocent. So, maybe today’s teens would think this book was corny.

      • Naomi June 4, 2015 / 12:51 pm

        I know what you mean.

  3. Emily J. June 4, 2015 / 8:54 pm

    I am so glad you shared this with me (and your readers), and I need to tell you about what happened since you did tell me about Sally Watson. We couldn’t find her books in any of our local libraries, and my university library didn’t have it either. But they had a link to one of her books that had been digitized by Google, so we downloaded that pdf and are reading it together. It is called The Witch of the Glens and sounds similar to what you’ve described of Lark, except it is set in Scotland. Anyway, we are loving Watson’s work. I hope to get a hold of more of her books soon.

    • whatmeread June 5, 2015 / 7:29 am

      I also read Witch of the Glens, and will review it in a few weeks. I’m glad you liked them! I thought they might be perfect for your girls. Image Cascade has the whole set available in paperback for about $10 a book, if you want to buy some for your girls for a birthday or something.

      • Emily J. June 5, 2015 / 7:56 am

        I didn’t know about Cascade, but I do now! Thanks. I can’t wait until her birthday now. 🙂

      • whatmeread June 5, 2015 / 7:58 am

        It’s called Image Cascade, or you can get the books from Amazon, if you shop at Amazon. I think it would be nicer to buy them from the company, since it seems to be a small one that is trying to advocate for good role models for girls, through older literature:

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