• Search
  • Lost Password?
Sharing our love for authors, and the stories they are inspired to tell.

The Skylark’s Secret
by Fiona Valpy
First Lines

image of a woman sat reading by an open window - caption reads 'will these first few lines capture our imagination' - used as the image for Book Beginnings / First Lines, posts


Cover image of the book 'The Skylark's Secret' by author Fiona Valpy



LEXIE, 1980

“It’s one of those days, on the cusp of early summer, when the sky and the sea alike are awash with sunlight. Days like this are rare enough up here in the Scottish Highlands to be remarked upon and stored away in the memory, hoarded as talismans against the long darkness of winter. I button Daisy into her coat and pull a woollen tammy over her curls. Even though there’s warmth in the sunshine, the wind on the hills above the croft can still nip noses and chill ears, turning them cherry pink. Then I buckle her into the carrier and hoist it on to my shoulders. She chuckles, loving the sensation of height, burying her fingers in my hair, and we set off up the path.

Climbing steadily, leaving the waters of Lock Ewe behind us, my breath becomes more laboured as the path steepens, twisting through the pines alongside the burn that chatters and babbles companionably on its way down the brae. Finally, we emerge from the darkness that pools beneath the trees, into the sunlight of the higher ground. Calf muscles burning, I stop for a moment, my hands on my hips, taking gulps of air that is clear and cold as the water in the stream. I turn to look back the way we’ve come. The clusters of whitewashed croft cottages fringing the road here and there along the loch side are still just visible, but in a few steps more they will disappear as the heather-clad arms of the hills fold us into their embrace”

Cover image of the book 'The Skylark's Secret' by author Fiona Valpy

So, you have taken a look, would you read the book?

Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Just to give you an extra helping hand, here is the book’s premise.

Image of author Fiona Valpy


Cover image of the book 'The Skylark's Secret' by author Fiona ValpyLoch Ewe, 1940. When gamekeeper’s daughter Flora’s remote highland village finds itself the base for the Royal Navy’s Arctic convoys, life in her close-knit community changes forever. In defiance of his disapproving father, the laird’s son falls in love with Flora, and as tensions build in their disrupted home, any chance of their happiness seems doomed.

Decades later, Flora’s daughter, singer Lexie Gordon, is forced to return to the village and to the tiny cottage where she grew up. Having long ago escaped to the bright lights of the West End, London still never truly felt like home.

Now back, with a daughter of her own, Lexie learns that her mother—and the hostile-seeming village itself—have long been hiding secrets that make her question everything she thought she knew.

As she pieces together the fragments of her parents’ story, Lexie discovers the courageous, devastating sacrifices made in her name. It’s too late to rekindle her relationship with her mother, but can Lexie find it in her heart to forgive the past, to grieve for all that’s lost, and finally find her place in the world?

A picture button for book beginnings at Rose City Reader

You might also like to visit Gilion, over at ‘Rose City Reader‘, where you can share links to the book beginnings from her own reading schedule and that of many of our fellow bloggers.

There are always plenty of new authors and titles to be discovered, and you never know where that next ‘must read’ will come from

Written by

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

View all articles
Leave a reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • This is one that I’ll definitely be reading next year. I’ve created a ‘2021 – plans’ shelf on Goodreads as a way to remember all the books I keep seeing and want to read, and have put this one on it. It sounds wonderful, Yvonne.

    • Hi Cath,

      I keep starting new filing systems and pages for my TBR books, but they just seem to become piles that I keep shuffling around in order to make one look less busy than it really is, when I want to add something to it – a bit like the Government does with the NHS waiting lists and the DWP unemployment statistics! 🙂

      I see that you have added both this one and ‘An American In Paris’ to your new shelf. I don’t like to actually recommend books, as something I might enjoy, the next person may not and vice versa, however I am going to stick my neck out and say that I think you will enjoy them both. So that’s a trip to Paris and one to the Scottish Highlands sorted out for 2021!

      Thanks for stopping by and I hope that all is well with you 🙂

  • I do love the opening, it’s so descriptive and atmospheric. And it reminds me of how much I adored Scotland for the year I lived there! Once we can do so again safely, I think it’s time for a revisit.  Do drop by my post if you have the time and I hope you have a lovely weekend 🙂 Juli @ A Universe in Words

    • Hi Juli,

      I have only got to visit up as far as Central Scotland, but we have always promised ourselves a trip right up into the Highlands, so who knows, maybe when all this Covid madness is behind us?

      Especially as the places in this story really exist and events similar to those which occur in the pages of this fiction story, actually happened during the war. It would give us a great reference point of places to visit.

      I would be quite happy to move to a small rural community, away from all the hustle and bustle permanently, however whilst I can stand the cold, but I am a bit of a woose when it comes to rain!

      Thanks for stopping by and Happy Reading 🙂

    • Hi Lorraine,

      This book is awesome in its descriptions, narrative and dialogue. You can really imagine yourself on the banks of Loch Ewe, both in peacetime and wartime.

      I have actually finished reading this one and my review is scheduled for December – 5 stars all the way!

      Thanks for stopping by and have a peaceful weekend 🙂

  • This does look quite good, but I think I need to get a grip on my TBR before I add too many more books! It doesn’t help that I’m constantly tagging books in my library app (which is free, so it makes me feel like it’s okay to keep adding them!!) I’m hoping once I quit reviewing (if you can even call what I do now reviewing) I will read more.

    • Hi Kelly,

      I have to say that this was a really lovely story, made even better by the fact that I managed to grab myself a NetGalley ‘read now’ copy, so I didn’t need to have a request approved.

      I tag books on Goodreads and Netgalley in the same way as you do on your library app and if I am not careful NetGalley will ban me from downloading any more books soon, as my ratio of reviews doesn’t correspond.

      The situation has improved lately as I am working more with e-publisher Bookouture, who require reviews from all their Blog Tour participants, which then feed back into NetGalley.

      It sounds as though you have definitely made your decision about reviewing books then. Does this mean you are going to close the blogs down too? You 100% have to do what is right for you, however I shall miss you loads. Once all this Covid noise is out of the way, I have to decide myself what I am going to do going forwards, so that is already a conversation I am trying to avoid having with Dave right now – at least this side of Christmas!

      Thanks for stopping by and Take Care 🙂

      • As of right now, the plan is to keep my blog active, but not in a “social” sense. I’ve already set up my new page for 2021, where I will keep track of my books (as I’ve done for a number of years, though I don’t think folks look at those pages often) and I’ll continue to post the jigsaw puzzles I work, just so I can have a record of what I’ve done. (and I’ll probably turn off comments). I’m not sure yet how much reading of others’ blogs I’ll do. Part of my burnout has been some “disillusionment” with the blogging community. (probably a result of Covid, the election, and some personal issues I’m dealing with, including my health) In general, the blogosphere has ceased to be a “happy place” for me. (though your blog doesn’t fall into that category!) I’m sure I’ll check in with my book blogging friends, if anything so I won’t run out of books to read (haha).

        The jury is still out on the fate of my other blog.

        I appreciate your interest. 🙂

        • I appreciate your candour about things, admire your strength of character in recognising that blogging is no longer working for you, and your resolve not to prevaricate, as I have done for so long, but to make the difficult decision to do something about it!

          Sometimes taking yourself out of a situation in which you no longer feel comfortable, is the best thing to do!

          Here’s to some happier and more productive reading time for you, but remember to share any of those particularly amazing finds, from time to time 🙂

    • Hi Anne,

      I have actually finished reading the book, as my review is scheduled for a couple of weeks time.

      I loved that the places in the book exist in real life, which made the contemporary aspects of the storyline so much more relatable. Also, the wartime storyline is also heavily based on true events, which I knew nothing about, so the research was really interesting!

      Thanks for stopping by and have a peaceful weekend 🙂

    • Hi Wendy,

      I have actually finished reading this one, ready for my review date and that poetic feel ran right the way through this story, from beginning to end. It really makes me want to go the Scottish Highlands to see Loch Ewe for myself. Maybe when all this Covid madness is behind us, that would be a good trip to make, as to be honest, I am in no rush to get on a plane and travel overseas anywhere, at least not for some time to come!

      I do try not to recommend books, however, if you enjoy a good WWII storyline, than I am happy to stick my neck out and say this is a 5 star read worth investing in!

      Thanks for stopping by, it is great to chat with you and Stay Safe 🙂

Written by Yvonne