Author: Laura Wood
Publication: Scholastic UK, paperback, 2020
Setting: 1930s EnglandDescription: Freya, the younger sister of Lou from A Sky Painted Gold, has always wanted to be an actress, so leaves Cornwall dramatically at 18, fortuitously meeting Kit McKay on the train to London. Kit is an aspiring playwright about to stage-manage a touring theatrical company and helps Freya secure a position as a lowly wardrobe assistant. This gives her the opportunity to experience the glamor of the theatre as well as the hard work behind the scenes, as a first step to making her dreams come true . . .
My Impression: This charming novel and Freya reminded me of one of those frothy drinks I see people ordering at Starbucks – something insubstantial and delicious to savor! It doesn’t hurt that the company is performing The Importance of Being Earnest, one of my favorite plays.
It feels almost as if I am watching myself, hovering above the scene and looking down on my body as words come out of my mouth. I’m so painfully, crushingly aware that what is happening right now in this moment is a dream come true. Or, I suppose it could be the champagne – never really having drunk much before, I can’t be certain.Freya is way over the top in her burning desire to be an actress, even curtseying to the producer in her eagerness to impress, but her adventures as a wardrobe assistant and the entertaining look behind the scenes are well done, and Freya impresses the reader by having a surprisingly level head when it matters.
It is a delicious feeling, being part of this team. I hadn’t realized until we came to Oxford how alone I had always been. I never thought of myself as lonely – I was part of a big, noisy family, and I had my books, my costumes, my plays. Thanks to them I spoke with kings and villains and saints, I traveled to Italy, to France, to America. It had all felt so real to me, and yet now that I am here, in the land of the living, this whirlpool of creativity and energy and laughter, I am starting to understand how insular it was.
Quibble: I usually don’t like books written in the present tense, although Wood’s use is in keeping with the heroine's perpetually breathless quality. Also, I don’t understand why the editor didn’t fix all the places where the author writes, “makes Nora and I laugh” and otherwise uses “I” when “me” is called for. I read two books in a row where "me" was used incorrectly on multiple occasions, which irritated me.
Link: Kindle * Book DepositorySource: Personal copy. This is my sixth book in the 2021 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader and my final book for Lory's Reading the Theatre Month. Recommended.