Seventeen-year-old Lou has always been drawn to the grand but empty house just across the causeway from her own home—so drawn, in fact, that when she discovered an open window in the house’s library, she went in and made herself comfortable. When the house’s owners, the Cardew siblings, return for the summer of 1929, they invite Lou into their circle and introduce her into to their intoxicating, glamorous world. But what lies hidden beneath the opulent surface of their lives? In a moment when Lou is feeling hemmed in by the pressures of life in her small Cornish town—pressures to grow up and settle down—her summer with the Cardews may be just what she needs to find out what she really wants.
Middle grade novelist Laura Wood’s first YA novel is dazzling in every way, starting with its gorgeous prose. From Lou’s small and plain but bustling family home, to the luxurious quiet of a Sunday afternoon at the Cardew house, to the glitz of one of their many Gatsby-esque parties, Wood creates atmospheres that readers can dive into headfirs. Lou’s perspective—smart and capable but a little naive and utterly in awe of the new world she’s suddenly part of—enables readers to get swept up in it completely, with no sense of pretense or feeling that we’re stuck on the outside, looking in.
Lou’s relationships with the Cardew siblings—Lou and Caitlin quickly form a fast friendship, while she and Robert develop the best kind of budding attraction, masked by constant barbs and banter—bring these larger-than-life characters into sharp focus, making them just as grounded and human as Lou herself.
Tinted with an undercurrent of magic, A Sky Painted Gold will resonate with readers who love the glamour of The Great Gatsby or Jane Austen’s sharp, will-they-won’t-they romances and fierce female friendships, or with any reader who has ever longed to step into a life grander than their own, even just for a moment.