A dazzling follow-up to the Applegates’ first historical fiction, Symphony of Spirits, Listen for the Lark is spun out of James and Marion Applegate’s research into the family tree. Discovering the tale of a distant ancestor who was saved by Delaware Indians, the Applegates weave together a priceless story of compassion and hope in the face of overwhelming odds.
Penelope Van Princis is a Dutch immigrant whose hopes are dashed when she is left widowed by a violent Indian attack. Nursed back to health by benevolent Sanhican Indians, Penelope must rebuild her life in a strange new land —not only for her sake, but also for the sake of her unborn child.
Told from Penelope’s perspective, the Applegates bring an unparalleled sense of emotional empathy to the character of Penelope. Once again, the Applegates succeed in intertwining countless historical details in the characters of the novel without lengthy exposition, making for a trim and taunt narrative. The first person perspective also strengthens the tensions running throughout the novel, as the stakes for Penelope’s physical and spiritual survival remain high in each chapter.
If there is one tiny flaw about the novel, it’s that the blurb on the back of the book gives away far too much information. Many of the details contained seem superfluous since they do not occur until halfway throughout the novel. Worst, these details undermine the tension for readers discovering the thrilling events for the first time.
Ultimately, Listen for the Lark is a superior piece of historical fiction. With a grandiose wilderness setting surrounding memorable and enjoyable characters and a sensational heroine, the Applegates have done it again in making a powerful piece of prose which isn’t to be missed for any fan of fiction.