Little Bird Flies ISBN: 9780857639103
Published by Nosy Crow, 2019
Set on the fictional isle of Tornish in Scotland in 1861, this historical novel is a wonderfully evocative tale of life at that time and an adventure story par excellence. Bridie MacKerrie is twelve and part of a happy family with two older sisters and a younger brother. Their mother has died three years earlier, and throughout the book she is mightily missed by them all almost a character in her own right. The father of the family works hard to keep them all well fed, but there is poverty on the island and rough living for all. Not that the islanders resent this. They are a happy lot with a good and generous laird who looks after them all. Bridie, or Little Bird as she is known in her family and by her best friend Will, is as active as they come, even with a twisted foot and withered arm she has had from birth. A feisty heroine, who thinks nothing of running barefoot over the rough stones and heather of her island home, she has a secret dream. She would love one day to go to America, to see the world and to have adventures. Little does she know! All is well until the good laird suddenly dies in the midst of Beltane celebrations, and the heir to the island is a cruel man with an equally cruel wife and daughter, who put up the rents that the islanders must pay and make their way of life untenable in order to get rid of them. Little Bird and all her family must escape to the mainland and to Glasgow, which they do with a great deal of planning and difficulty, including Little Bird almost drowning. She is very sad to leave Will and the island behind even though she has wanted adventure, and she learns just what a special place it is. There is a secondary tale involving a young woman, who has been seriously burned in a fire and whose guardian is the terrible laird, and a young artist who has come to the island to paint the laird’s portrait. They are soon in love, but the laird will not countenance a marriage as he is after the girl’s money. They also escape the island. In Glasgow all seems well for awhile, but there are further horrors to come, horrors that mean a flight to America, and the beginning of more of Little Bird’s adventures. These are to come about in a sequel: Little Bird Lands, which I for one will be getting and reading as soon as possible! This is a wonderful tale, full of love and excitement and very real people, and there are hints that Will will reappear in the new book. A beautifully written novel that is lyrical in nature and with dialogue that is just formal enough to be right for its historical setting.