Title: A Sky Painted Gold
Author: Laura Wood
Publication Date: 5th July 2018
This book had been on my TBR for a few months, but when it was recently shortlisted for the 2019 YA Book Prize, it instantly became a priority read.
YA historical fiction is a bit hit-and-miss for me. I often find that it has a somewhat awkwardly modern feel, as the author becomes lost in making the setting and characters ‘relevant’ for younger readers. I was very pleased to discover, however, that A Sky Painted Gold positively oozed 1920s charm, whisking me right into the lazy Cornwall summer setting of the story.
Despite instantly falling in love with Laura Wood’s writing style, I still struggled to get into the story. The first 100 pages or so felt very slow, and I took a while to warm to Lou as a narrator. She seemed quite childish and silly for a seventeen-year-old, and I kept finding myself thinking of her as a few years younger. I only really became interested when she met the glamorous Robert Cardew and his sister Caitlin, which was, for me, the moment the story really took off.
Lou’s world opened up completely upon her introduction to the Cardews’ dazzling social circle, and I found myself completely swept along on the journey with her. There was some great character development for Lou as a main character, and I loved the central themes of wanting something more from life and the feeling of belonging to two different worlds at once.
I wasn’t initially that interested in the romance, since I’m not usually a fan of the misunderstood-arrogant-rude-boy trope – but by the end of the book I was literally squealing and swooning and shipping characters left, right and centre. This is definitely a character-driven novel, and I interestingly got some Regency romance vibes from it, which made a lot of sense afterwards when I read that Laura Wood is a big Georgette Heyer fan!
The pacing of the novel did feel a bit strange to me – after the slow start, the plot jumped forwards suddenly to the point where Lou and Caitlin were best friends. Their closeness and almost sisterly bond was constantly mentioned throughout the remainder of the book, but since their friendship developed ‘off-screen’, I found it quite hard to buy in to it.
On the whole, though, A Sky Painted Gold was a highly enjoyable read. If you’re looking for a romantic historical novel to get lost in on a lazy summer’s day, I think this would be a great choice.