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 McPhail’s hut will change the course of their lives forever.
Inspired by a true story, Skylarking is a stunning debut novel about friendship, love and loss, one that questions what it is to remember and how tempting it can be to forget.
Longlisted for the 2017 Indie Book Awards and the 2017 Voss Literary Prize
‘[Mildenhall’s] research of life on a remote cape in a young colony manifests in lovingly drawn descriptions of the natural landscape … the novel's strength lies with following Kate's and Harriet's stumbles and skylarking from childhood to womanhood; and their close, sometimes stifling, friendship.’ —Thuy On, Sydney Morning Herald
‘It's no surprise to learn that debut author Kate Mildenhall counts Geraldine Brooks and Hannah Kent among her favourite writers. Inspired by a true story, Skylarking recreates a particular time and place as evocatively as they do…this is a beautifully written book, with lyrical descriptions of the desolate yet beautiful landscape.’ —AFR Magazine
‘It’s testament to Kate Mildenhall’s skill that you become so immersed in the lives of best friends Kate and Harriet you feel the dread, but hope it will not be so … fans of Emily Bitto’s The Strays and Favel Parrett’s Past the Shallows will find much to admire here.’ —Herald Sun
‘Mildenhall is at her best when she is exploring the complex relationship between these two young women as their burgeoning sexuality begins to cause problems within their tiny community.’ —Books+Publishing
‘Kate Mildenhall’s impressive debut novel takes an historical case and re-imagines it with such sensitivity and insight that we feel this must be how it truly happened.’ —Emily Bitto
‘It is hard to believe that Skylarking is Kate Mildenhall’s debut novel, as her ability to create both character and atmosphere is impressive.’ —Annie Condon, Readings Monthly
‘The storm-lashed coastline of the Great Southern Land is the setting for this poetic, slow-moving tale of the friendship … an evocative yarn.’ —Australian Women's Weekly
‘Skylarking is a strikingly real and deeply moving meditation on adolescent friendship in all its complexities—a heart-wrenching work.’ —Olga Lorenzo
‘A brave, beautiful and richly textured book that delicately explores the fault lines in love and friendship.’ —Lucy Treloar
‘Author Kate Mildenhall evocatively brings to the mind’s eye the lives of two young girls in Victorian-era Australia.’ —Better Reading
‘Sensory and visceral’ —Joy Lawn, The Australian
Loved this book. So beautifully written. So evocative of the isolated location in which the story evolved. The true story around Kate and Harriet's deep friendship was so well portrayed. Can recommend the book highly.