As a teenager I loved reading the McCabe Sisters series, I read them all. So when I heard that Freya North was bringing out another novel in 2022 I had to get a copy. Thanks to Welbeck publishing for gifting me a copy in exchange for an honest review.
In the 1960s, Florence, a pregnant 16-year-old, is banished to one of the remotest parts of the UK. Years later, Nell and Dougie are both at critical moments in their lives when their paths cross.
Sometimes who we are goes way beyond where we are from. What happened to Florence? Why is Dougie so reluctant to return home? How can Nell make peace with the lies she’s been told?
As the lives of these three people collide and interweave, the search for truth uncovers long-kept secrets. Little Wing is a story 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.
As you can probably tell from the blurb this is an emotional read. The two main stories the author tells are full of twists and turns and superbly interwoven together.
We initially meet Nell, manager of a cafe full of some quirky characters. This cafe is a special project as the staff are made up of those with disabilities. But it is Nell’s whole life. She is kind, generous and patient, and when she isn’t working she is visiting her mother in the care home or an elderly neighbour of hers.
Then one day an idea forms in her head, Is there more to her mum calling her by a different name than just her dementia? Then after a revelation and the truth being revealed to her by her aunt she goes to Harris, an island in the Outer Hebrides to find out the truth about where she really comes from.
All the characters are very well crafted and you can’t help but empathise with the main characters, Florence and Nell.
One of my favourite characters is 88 year old, Frank who Nell frequently visits. His wisdom and ability to see beneath the obvious illustrates his age and life experience. But more than that he almost becomes a fatherly/grandfatherly figure to Nell, something she never had. You can tell he truly cares about Nell and their interactions are often heartfelt with periods of light comic relief.
Overall, I like how we see the contrast in Nell’s family, from her eccentric and now dementia ridden mother to her stern, evasive aunt who hasn’t been around much in her adult years.
In the novel we travel to Camden, Colchester and the island of Harris. So as you can imagine the scenery changes rapidly. However the scene setting which stood out for me most was the island of Harris. The way North describes the island is so poetic and beautiful that it is brought to life in vivid colours and you can tell the writer has a close connection with the island with the amount of love and time taken to describe the beaches, the nature and the breathtaking views.
I loved this story, it was heart achingly beautiful and sad. The stories told within the novel are a true depiction of ordinary people living extraordinary lives. It also shows how far some people will go to find out who they really are. It is a tale of self discovery, love and sacrifices made for those you care about most.
Some of the most emotional scenes were the flashbacks between Nell and her mother. These scenes depicted the stresses and emotions of mental health for those suffering as well as those around them. Nell’s mother suffered greatly with her mental health whilst she was growing up and the story approaches this in a sensitive nature whilst also providing a raw, emotional image of Nell’s childhood. However, it also showed the good times they had together and illustrated that life wasn’t all bad. In fact, more importantly it showed that Nell remembers the good times much more than the harder days.
Another aspect I liked about this story is that even though she was searching for the truth of her heritage, she never forgot where she came from. There is no hatred or distrust, just a determination to find out the truth and what she finds out is a story of love, devotion and strength. But her story is also a sad tale which most likely happened more than we know in real life.
Little Wing is out tomorrow!!!
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ a beautiful, heartfelt tale of love, loss, self discovery and truth. It will break your heart and then build it back up just as quick.