Originally published: 20 January 2022
Author: Freya North
Published by: Welbeck
Genre: Women’s fiction
Length: 368 pages
Listening Dates: 27-30 January 2022
Little Wing is the powerful story of two families over three generations.
1969. Florence Lawson, a 16-year-old schoolgirl who dreams of being an artist, finds herself pregnant and banished to one of the most remote parts of the UK.
1986. Dougie Munro, searching for adventure, leaves the Isle of Harris – the island of his birth – for art college and a career in London as a photographer.
2005. Nell Hartley, content with her life managing a care-in-the-community café in Colchester, discovers a shocking truth about her family.
Between the sprawl of London, suburban Essex, and the wild, unpredictable Outer Hebrides, three lives collide and interweave as questions are asked and secrets surface. What happened to Florence? Why is Dougie now so reluctant to return home? How can Nell make peace with the lies she’s been told?
Little Wing is a novel about resilience, forgiveness and the true meaning of family, about finding one’s place in the world and discovering how we all belong somewhere and to someone.
I read a few of Freya North’s books just over 10 years ago so was intrigued to see what sort of book Little Wing would be as it looks like she took a break from writing.
Little Wing is told of three points of view. We hear from Nell, a woman in her mid 30s who works in a community café in Colchester. She doesn’t have a lot going on in her life – she enjoys her job and visiting her elderly friend Frank but finds visiting her mum, Wendy difficult as she appears to suffering from early dementia and rarely recognises Nell.
Dougie is a photographer living in London, taking photographs for catalogues of tools and agricultural equipment which he finds unfulfilling and certainly isn’t the dream he had for himself when he left his home on the Isle of Harris in Scotland many years ago. His dad who still lives on the Isle of Harris is concerned about him and Dougie seems sad and lonely.
The third voice from the late 1960s is Florence, a teenage girl who finds herself pregnant and in disgrace, and is sent to live with her stepfather’s brother in remote Scotland.
I loved all three voices as much as each other which is always good in a story like this! All three characters have loneliness as a common trait and I was intrigued to find how the three voices would come together. I also loved some of the supporting characters – the workers in the café which Nell manages who all have learning difficulties were charming. And I loved Florence’s step dad George and his brother Iain who step up to take care of her. The setting of the Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides sounded just magnificent – the landscapes and the wild weather were vividly described and the spirit of community was lovely to read about.
I won’t say any more because I don’t want to give too much away but I really enjoyed this story. I think Freya North has grown as a writer and Little Wing was an accomplished and engaging story which I thoroughly enjoyed.
Thank you to Maddie at Welbeck for the gifted proof copy. Please check out what these other wonderful bloggers are saying about Little Wing!
About the author:
Freya North is the author of 14 bestselling novels – and 2021 was the 25th anniversary of the publication of her first novel Sally! Her 15th novel Little Wing was written during the first lockdown. Set partly in the Outer Hebrides and interweaving the secrets and lies of two families over two time frames – she says it was a joy to research and write and she is currently at work on her 16th. She has always been focussed on a sense of place being a key feature of her writing – settings being a leading character, not merely a backdrop. Previous locations have included North Norfolk, British Columbia, Derbyshire, Vermont, France, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall…
She is an avid reader too – and the novels of Barbara Trapido, Jane Gardam, Rose Tremain and Mary Wesley inspired her to write.