The Lark on the Wing

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CARNEGIE MEDAL WINNER – 1950

The Lark on the Wing

by Elfrida Vipont

Age: 11+

Interests: music, religion, romance, coming of age stories

Oxford University Press: 1950

234 pages

Other titles in this series: The Lark in the Morn, The Spring of the Year, Flowering Spring

Kit Haverard dreams of becoming a singer, but faces opposition from family members and her own lack of funds. Still, she goes to London to pursue her dreams. Sharing a flat with her two best friends, and surrounded by siblings, cousins, suitors and various well-wishers, she devotes herself to her music studies. In the end she performs in her first major concert, to great acclaim, and realizes she is in love with her singing partner.

The second in a series about the Haverard family, this book hits the ground running, as Kit faces family opposition to her sudden revelation that she wants to sing. Perhaps if I read the first novel (The Lark in the Morn) I would have been more invested in Kit, but as it was I found I didn’t care all that much about her travails. Frankly, every time she stumbled or came up against some obstacle, some supportive relative, friend or stranger would materialize from the wings to lend her support. Her music teacher offers to teach her for free, her cousins are all watching out for her, her maiden aunts donate evening gowns and accessories, every time she sings complete strangers offer her jobs, why even her co-workers seem to have her in the centre of her focus, lowly stenographer that she is. It’s certainly a dated portrayal of a strong, independent woman: Kit is certainly determined and hard working, but her progress is buoyed along by protective males and rich patrons.

The romance angle is so old-fashioned as to be nearly nonexistent. Several attentive boys hang about, but Kit remains oblivious to the reason. The question of love suddenly rears its head at the end of the book and she (somehow) seems to make the right choice.

All in all, quite a dated tale of young students in 1940s London. The author paints a detailed picture of two worlds she had personal knowledge of: that of the dreamy young music student, and the busy life of the committee-bound Quaker. Long passages in which Kit is transported by the joys of music may only appeal to those with similar interests. Ditto the religious sentiment, although the Quakers are certainly more lively than I would have expected. Heartfelt and earnest, but perhaps too much so for today’s readers.

(this title is available at amazon.com)

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illustrations by T.R. Freeman

illustrations by T.R. Freeman

illustrations by T.R. Freeman

illustrations by T.R. Freeman

illustrations by T.R. Freeman

illustrations by T.R. Freeman

illustrations by T.R. Freeman

illustrations by T.R. Freeman

 

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.