“I come from a family of performers. Singing and music usually appear in my novels. Skylark is about the early performers who came to Aotearoa – circus troops and actors who toured the country travelling by ship from town to town with their costumes and painted backdrops and animals. Alouette, my French protagonist, is an invented character, but most of the other performers were real. Skylark is the English translation of Alouette, but it also means a bit of a cheeky romp which this novel is.”

Skylark cover from the 2012 edition.

A lively, unconventional love story set amid real figures from nineteenth-century theatre, from the author of the best-selling The Denniston Rose.

The little French girl, Lily Alouette, was singing and dancing almost as soon as she could walk, and performing became as much a part of her as breathing. When she is left an orphan in an unfamiliar country after her parents have emigrated to the goldfields, it is performing in a circus that offers survival.

Later she takes to the stage in both Australia and New Zealand, which is where she attracts the attention of two men. One is the faithful Jack Lacey; the other is the renowned pirate Bully Hayes. While Jack has to compete with both Bully and the theatre to win Lily’s attention, Lily finds she must share Jack, too.

This lively, unconventional love story is set amid real figures from nineteenth-century theatre, giving a vivid and entertaining picture of the life of actors and circus performers, of gold miners, of horse breeders, of colonial settlers. Filtered through a unique and intriguing narrative, it is page-turning, heart-warming and full of surprises.

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