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3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,002 ratings  ·  180 reviews
Kate and Harriet are best friends, growing up together on an isolated Australian cape in the 1880s. As daughters of the lighthouse keepers, the two girls share everything, until a fisherman, McPhail, arrives in their small community. When Kate witnesses the desire that flares between him and Harriet, she is torn by her feelings of envy and longing. But one moment in McPhai ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published August 2016 by Black Inc.
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Black Inc. Hi Stephanie - send us a direct message with your address details and we'll get an ARC out to you! So glad you enjoyed the sample.…moreHi Stephanie - send us a direct message with your address details and we'll get an ARC out to you! So glad you enjoyed the sample.(less)

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Average rating 3.87  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,002 ratings  ·  180 reviews

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Diane S ☔
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5. Absolutely beautiful setting, described wonderfully. An isolated Cape in Australia, a lighthouse keeper, his family and a few others that live on the Cape, and two girls with a friendship they hope will last forever. Days filled with fun, adventure, secrets, chores too of course, but we all grow up. A new young man arrives on the Cape, and this and he will change things between the girls, create a fissure in their friendship.

It is rare these days to find a story told in a straightforward ma
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a beautiful book to read, the story of two young girls growing up in a very small community in Australia, their lives, their friendships and their loves.

The story is based on a true event, a tragedy which occurred in 1887 at Cape St George. The author has used many of the real names of the characters who were actually involved and then has spun a web of her own design to imagine how and why the event occurred. She does it well. I could feel for those poor girls and their families.

The bo
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews
Nov 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017-books
Skylarking is a book that takes an atmospheric and introspective look at the powerful friendship that forms between two young girls while they come of age on an isolated lighthouse community in the 1880’s. This powerful Australian literary fiction tale is informed significantly on historical fact.

At the centre of this debut historical fiction novel is Kate, the daughter of a lighthouse keeper. Kate shares her life with Harriet, the daughter of the other lig
Dale Harcombe
May 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
What a joy and relief these days to read a novel that is simply told. There is no jumping around in time and no changing points of view but just a novel of two girls growing up and their friendship. It also accurately portrays the jealousy and feelings that raise their heads when one starts to grow up and have different experiences before the other. This starts mostly when the fisherman McPhail arrives in the small community.
The novel is a fictionalised account of what could have happened on an
Kate and Harriet had been best friends all their lives – Kate’s father was the head lighthouse keeper and Harriet’s father was his assistant. Together their families had lived through heat, cold; summers and winters on the isolated cape on the edge of the Australian coastline. It was the 1880s and Kate and Harriet grew up knowing fun and laughter, adventures and love.

Harriet was two years older than Kate and suddenly Kate could see her friend was turning into a young woman. She was at times jeal
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
In this debut novel, Kate Mildenhall re-imagines what could have happened to cause a tragic event that occurred in a small coastal community in the 1880s. As the only girls in their mid teens, Kate and Harriet are close friends in the isolated community around the lighthouse where Kate's father is the keeper. However, as they grow older and a handsome fisherman arrives in the community, they compete for his attention and jealousy starts to creep into their relationship. The tension builds slowly ...more
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
This first novel is inspired by the true story of two friends, Kate Gibson and Harriet Parker. They were the daughters of lighthouse keepers, who grew up together, in a small, isolated community on the coast of Australia's Jervis Bay Territory, late in the 19th century.

Certain facts are public record; the story that underpins those facts is imagined.

I love that this is a story of female friendship, very firmly rooted in a particular time and a place that the author had taken time and trouble to
Skylarking is a work of fiction, based on the true story of Harriet Parker . . . her best friend, Kate Gibson, . . . the hut of Donald McPhail at Cape St George in 1887. I came upon this story while camping with dear friends . . . at Greenpatch camping ground in Jervis Bay, New South Wales.”

This is an edited version of the Author’s Note at the end of the book, and it does show the bare bones of the story she had to work with. For her debut, she has created a believable story that I think w
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in a tiny lighthouse community in the Jervis Bay area towards the end of the 19th century, this is the story of best friends, Kate and Harriet. Kate is the younger by a couple of years; smart, bookish, quite wilful, and supremely confident in the physical environment where her father is the head lighthouse keeper. In many ways Harriet - the blond, beautiful, only child - seems less mature. But this probably helps to make their relationship more equal. The story is told from Kate's point of v ...more
Brooke - One Woman's Brief Book Reviews

Skylarking by Kate Mildenhall. (2016).

As daughters of lighthouse keepers, Kate and Harriet are best friends growing up together on as isolated Australian cape in the 1880s. Everything changes with the arrival of the fisherman McPhail and Kate sees the attraction between Harriet and McPhail. One moment in his hut will change the girls' lives forever.

*For those that don't know, skylarking basically refers to silly/frivolous behaviour o
Jul 07, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kate and Harriet are the daughters of Lighthouse Keepers on a remote coastal location on the south NSW coast. A ship comes monthly to deliver supplies and letters and provides transport out when required. The girls are quite young when we meet them, but as the book progresses, the girls mature, boys come into the village and from the innocent and sometimes annoying eyes of Kate, we see significant shift of friendships and loyalties. It's a sad book really, even though the environment is harsh bu ...more
3.5 stars.

I've been intrigued by this book for a good 12 months now. I mean...THAT COVER!!! It's basically the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen. Plus, it's Australian YA historical fiction that tells the story of two girls whose fathers are lighthouse keepers. Um. YES PLEASE.

Honestly, I think the best way to describe this book is "quiet". It's set over about 6 years, but there's often very little indication that you've suddenly jumped forward several months or a year. It's inspired by actual
MaryannC. Book Freak
A haunting and amazing read, this one left me breathless when it ended. This debut is based on the true story of two girls Kate Gibson and Harriet Parker, daughters of lighthouse keepers who are the very best of friends on the cusp of young adulthood while growing up along the coast of Jervis Bay Territory Australia in 1887. Told through the eyes of Kate she tells us this story of two friends who share their secrets, dreams and wishes as they begin to grow from girls noticing their budding woman ...more
Jan 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I really liked a lot of elements in Skylarking:
~ the lighthouse setting (I've always loved the romanticism and mystery that lighthouse settings can bring)
~ the Australian historical vibe ~ atmospheric and transporting
~ the exploration of adolescent girl-best friendship ~ in all is messy love/envy/confusing changing seasons
~ the way different romantic elements were handled (nothing was straightforward and it rang true from crush confusion, romantic daydreamings, and figuring out heart vs lust vs
Dec 31, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: australian
I enjoyed this novel based on a true story. It was an entertaining read, although some threads were left unresolved, presumably intentionally
Nov 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
A poignant examination of Australian girlhood. I found Kate Mildenhall's portrayal of female friendship to ring true. It was quite bitter sweet. I also think that Mildenhall's exploration of the blurring as well as confusion surrounding platonic love and romantic love to be superb. Wow.
Listen to a Bookish Friends review of 'Skylarking' on Omny, iTunes or on the blog.

Listen to a Bookish Friends discussion of 'Skylarking' on Omny, iTunes or on the blog.
Madeleine Griffeth
Just one point: I am so disappointed by the use of indigenous characters as tools to engender some kind of epiphany, or development of consciousness, in white characters. I'm talking about those magical moments where an indigenous character causes some kind of "lightbulb moment" in a white character - without spoilers, those who've read the text should know the moment I'm talking about. I've seen it before in Australian literature and it makes my skin crawl. Maybe it's just me, but it seems to e ...more
Not a bad effort for a debut novelist. It was an easily read story, and made me think about the changing roles of women in society and the difference between happiness and contentment. However I thought the ending felt a bit anticlimactic. 3.5★
Couldn't say this grabbed me. Two girls living in a remote community of lighthouse keepers. There is some simmering sexual awakenings, then a surprise accident which came out of left field. It's a historical piece but it could have been in any place, at any time. ...more
Mar 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favourites
What a wonderful find! (seriously, thank you JL!!)
For lovers of Australian history, respectful and enigmatic observations of our First Peoples, superbly vivid depictions of wild, natural landscapes and an intriguing mystery based on a real event. Kate Mildenhall has done a sterling job with this little novel, seemingly without the full complement of fanfare and accolades her creation deserves.
This should be on every "Others also enjoyed..." list for:
Hannah Kent's Burial Rites,
Favel Parrett's
Jan 21, 2017 rated it liked it
I had mixed feelings about this book. The setting is interesting, and I'm always intrigued by stories inspired by real events. I liked the gentle development of the story, which showed the quiet pace of life at the lighthouse interspersed with more exciting episodes such as a beached whale.

However, I found the narrator Kate a bit irritating, particularly her teen angst about men, puberty and relationships. I also couldn't warm to the character of Harriet. The friendship of these two girls is at
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I actually love the fact that it's based on a true story. Kate Mildenhall relives a story set in 1880 and imagines what could have happened later on. And what could have happened before, leading to this tragedy.

It was a fast read and really interesting. If you're interested in the sea, Australia, friendship and growing-up, this book is definitely for you. The writing was beautiful, easy to read and I loved the fact that there are actual statements and bits and pieces from the real story (especi
Michael Livingston
Jul 31, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a fine accomplishment - a fictional retelling of a small and forgotten moment in Australia's history. Mildenhall's reimagining of the small lighthouse community is convincing, and the chain of events that ratchet up of tension as the book moves towards its denouement are beautifully pieced together. I wasn't quite convinced by the central friendship, but this is an enjoyable read and a promising debut. ...more
Jun 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
A foreboding atmosphere similar to Picnic at Hanging Rock. An intimate friendship haunted with obsession, jealousy and isolation. Beautifully written. Couldn't put it down. ...more
Reannon Bowen
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club-reads
I absolutely loved this book. I keep telling everyone to read it. It reminds me of The Strays & The light between oceans. And when the reason behind the title becomes clear I cried.
Could have been gayer. The end was dissatisfactory.
Kelly Lacey
Jul 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
The outline sketch of the lighthouse and cape that greets readers of Kate Mildenhall’s debut novel Skylarking is both enigmatic and enticing. It serves to both set the scene and preface the idea that it is a remembered setting, that we are revisiting the past.

There is a simplicity to the book which makes it an easy and enjoyable read. There is a single narrator, also called Kate, who manages to capture a quality of mature, thoughtful reflection as well as the childish certainties of her remember
Elizabeth Corbett
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
Growing up on a remote life house station, Kate and Harriet are best friends. When the mysterious fisherman, McPhail moves into a nearby, a subtle tension rises as their bodies begin to mature. Yet the closeness of their friendship looks set to prevail until an afternoon of skylarking in McPhail's hut changes everything.

This is an exquisite book written in Mildehall's haunting prose. An ode to youth and friendship, for all who have walked the rocky path to womanhood. A tender tender tragedy. I
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, australian
Absolutely loved it! There is something to be said about a story simply told. No convoluted nor flowery language, just simple sentences that do wonders in placing you directly into the story. I could feel the salt breeze from the ocean, the wind in my hair, the friendship and jealousy that ultimately transpires. A simple story, set in a small setting, yet it drew me in immediately. I will definitely be looking out for more from author Kate Mildenhall.
Jan 13, 2018 rated it liked it
This initially is a gentle read, detailing the powerful friendship between two young girls whose fathers are keepers of a lighthouse. Their childhood on an isolated Australian cape is idyllic in many respects, when one considers the fierce beauty of the surroundings, and the freedom to grow up unencumbered and unthreatened. Life is hard, though, and they are of course at the mercy of the elements. Imaginations are key, as well as being central to their play and development. Their innocence does ...more
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Kate Mildenhall is a writer and teacher, who lives on the outskirts of Melbourne with her young family. She has taught in schools, at RMIT University and State Library Victoria, and volunteered with Teachers Across Borders in Cambodia. Her debut novel, SKYLARKING, was published in Australia by Black Inc. in 2016 and in the UK by Legend Press in 2017. Skylarking was longlisted for the Voss Literary ...more

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