Teaching with Larkswood

Teaching with Larkswood


Valerie has written a novel that is being sold as an adult title as well as a story for young adults. What are some of the themes in Larkswood that make it more mature than her earlier work?

Larkswood is classified as an “historical” novel.

Which periods in particular does it cover?

The years between 1896, which is when the story begins, and 1939, include those in which the Great War split the world apart. How does Valerie cover the Great War? Which of the characters in the novel are most affected by it? How does it change their lives?

The story ends on the eve of the Second World War. What different viewpoints do the main characters in Larkswood have about the coming war? Which ones do you agree with?

Don’t forget, you have hindsight. They did not.

Suppose you wanted to write a story set not in today’s world, but in another era. Which one would you choose and why?

Write six sentences describing the street in which you live, the people in it, its traffic, its buildings, or its green fields.

Now write about the same street 50 years ago, 100 years ago, 150 years ago. How would you begin to find out what your street would have been like?

Now, choose your own favourite historical period.

Into it, put three characters walking in your street. Make them exciting.

For example: a pirate, a princess, a thug, a clown, an actor, the chief of MI5, a medal-winning swimmer, a cyclist, a tree surgeon.

The three of them meet one other. They each have a terrible problem.

Get them talking.

I mean, not just boring, idle chit chat about the blithering weather!

I want them to spill their hearts out.

Ah ha!… You have the beginnings of your own story.

Tell me more…