Little Wing by Freya North
Little Wing by Freya North is a heartfelt story and a complicated family drama in which secrets are revealed.
Genre/Categories/Setting: Women’s Fiction, Complicated Family Drama, Secrets, Scotland
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My Summary of Little Wing:
Little Wing shares the story of a pregnant teenager who is sent away from her family to give birth. Years later, Nell (the child) is a young adult and concerned for her mom who suffers from dementia. Her mom’s ramblings cause Nell to question her past. Nell sets out for the Outer Hebrides in search of answers. While there, she crosses paths with Dougie and makes significant discoveries.
Do You Have a Right to Know the Facts Surrounding Your Birth?
Adoption is no longer a well-kept secret.
My husband is adopted and for him, the answer to this question is a resounding YES. He feels it is his right to know the identity of his birth parents. Although he was in contact with his birth mother before she died, his birth father remains a well-kept secret. My husband is using Ancestry DNA in an attempt to find an answer.
Decades ago it was easier to keep secrets. Families, neighbors, and/or friends were likely to care for unwanted, abandoned, or neglected children and raise them as their own. In addition, a great deal of shame existed for the family that experienced a teenage pregnancy. Without DNA technology, it’s more difficult to unravel the past as you question an older generation that might feel the need to keep secrets.
I think some individuals might be more concerned about their past than others. My husband lived decades before he felt compelled to find answers. In Little Wing, Nell is determined to find answers.
Dani Shapiro in her memoir, Inheritance, addresses some of these issues.
Structure and Engagement
Because Dougie and Nell have separate story lines in the beginning it took me a while to feel fully engaged with the story. At the point Nell travels to the Outer Hebrides and we begin to hear the birth mother’s point of view, I was fully invested. Vivid descriptions of the area, a strong sense of place, excerpts from the birth mother’s journal, crossing paths with Dougie, and a side of romance turned this into a page-turner.
Told from three points of view, the structure facilitates a connection with each character. We experience Dougie’s and Nell’s work frustrations and empathize with their parental relationships. I love hearing from Nell’s birth mother in her own voice through journal entries. I need to note that I appreciate this point of view printed in italics. It made the transition to her POV easy to navigate. In addition to the three main characters, I loved the portrayal of the kind and compassionate nurse in both the present and past timelines.
I adore family drama as long as it’s not too dysfunctional. The choices that individuals made in past times because of societal pressures are always interesting to me. Thoughtful themes include family secrets, finding answers, belonging, the true meaning of family, forgiveness, lost souls, mother/daughter relationships, supportive coworkers, friendship, compassion, and resilience.
Recommending Little Wing
I’m enthusiastically recommending this well-written and well-told story for readers who appreciate a strong sense of place, interesting characters, family drama, and unraveling secrets. Book clubs might enjoy this for the rich discussion possibilities. Readers from Scotland will definitely appreciate the setting! Thanks for the recommendation Joanne @ Portobello Book Blog!
My Rating: 4.5 Stars (rounded to 5)
Meet the Author of Little Wing, Freya North
I’m the author of 14 bestselling novels – and 2021 was the 25th anniversary of the publication of my first novel Sally! My 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 – it was a joy to research and write and I’m currently at work on my 16th. I’ve always been focused on a sense of place being a key feature of my writing – settings being a leading character, not merely a backdrop. Previous locations have included North Norfolk, British Columbia, Derbyshire, Vermont, France, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall… I’m an avid reader too – and the novels of Barbara Trapido, Jane Gardam, Rose Tremain and Mary Wesley inspired me to write. I hope you enjoy my books – please keep in touch via my website, Facebook, Twitter and Insta! Happy Reading! Freya x
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