Member Reviews

“The Sky Beneath Us” is by Fiona Valpy. This is a dual timeline (1920s and 2020s) book connecting Violet (1920s Scottish gardener in training) with her great-great niece Daisy (divorced mother of twins). Violet wrote letters to her sister, which Daisy found and became obsessed with following in Violet’s footsteps to not only travel to Nepal to discover Nepal, but also to find out what happened to her great-great aunt once the letters ceased. Let me say that the cover is fantastic and the background of this happening in Nepal I found extremely interesting - especially a non-Everest story. The first half had a lot of background filler that, at times, became way too detailed in the minute for me. Things did pick up in the second half - once Daisy and Violet were in the same town, albeit at different times. I found the descriptions of Nepal (plants, mountains, people) to be very interesting. Do read the author’s notes in the back of the book for information about how Ms. Valpy got her information - and who is real and imagined. Overall, this was an enjoyable book - and I rather liked doing armchair traveling to Nepal.

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Violet Mackenzie-Grant is happy her parents have allowed her to study at the Edinburgh School of Gardening for Women, and she has no idea what's install for her and she will take a huge risk. Violet leaves Scotland and travels to Nepal and a little settlement called Phortse in the Himalayan Mountains. A stunning place, the Sherpa people are lovely, and Violet can’t believe she’s seeing the wild rhododendron bushes and more.

The Sky Beneath Us has a dual timeline and it's set in 1927 and 2020 is told from Violet and her great-great-nieces Daisy's points of view and it's easy to follow and understand.

Daisy Laverock found her great-great-aunt Violet's letters and journal’s years ago, they came to an end and she always wanted to travel to Nepal and find out what happened to her. Daisy and her mum Lexie planned on going together and Covid breaks out and she’s already on the plane. Daisy arrives alone, she planned on trekking to Mount Everest, asking about Violet along the way and the pandemic changes her plans. Daisy takes inspirations from her great-great-aunt, she meets two Sherpa men, who are returning to their village and to isolate and are willing for her to go with them.

I received a copy of The Sky Beneath Us by Fiona Valpy from NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed reading about Nepal, Himalayan Mountains, plants that I didn’t know originally came from the area and the stunning scenery, teahouses, the Sherpa people, their way of life, religious beliefs and culture, and how they lived in high altitudes and Violet's legacy. Reading about Covid was hard and it brings back all the bad and scary memories of that time.

A captivating narrative about family, uncovering the truth, solving a hundred year old mystery, both Violet and Daisy are inspirational and strong women, they overcame challenges, hardship and adversity. The cover of The Sky Beneath Us is gorgeous, perfect for this novel and five stars from me. Daisy and Lexie, are characters from Ms. Valpy's previous book, The Skylark’s Secret, and I highly recommend both.

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I'm a huge fan of Fiona Valpy, and I pretty much devour everything she reads, and this of course was no exception. Nobody writes historical fiction like Fiona Valp does, and it was absolutely wonderful to be back with a story of hers. She's such a talented writer. I was enthralled and captivated by this story, and by the end of it I wanted to weep because I don't have anymore Fiona Valpy to devour.

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This book was a little slow, especially the first half, but I'm glad I read it. The ending was great. 3 1/2 stars rounded up.


ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

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The Sky Beneath Us by Fiona Happy

1927. Violet Mackenzie-Grant is embarking on her dream of studying at the Edinburgh School of Gardening for Women. She doesn’t yet know that it’s a journey that will take her to Kathmandu and beyond, deep into captivating landscapes and cultures that are worlds away from everything and everyone she’s left behind in Scotland.

2020. Daisy Laverock has dreamed of retracing the footsteps of her great-great-aunt Violet ever since discovering her long-lost journals, whose accounts of plant hunting in the 1930s inspired Daisy’s own career. Divorced, and facing an empty nest, Daisy decides to embark on the trip of a lifetime. She arrives in Nepal, ready to start trekking in the shadow of Everest. But fate, and the pandemic, have other plans
I absolutely love books by this author and have to date read them all , love like dual timeline One and the characters within it and the way the main characters ( Violet in 1927 and Daisy in 2020 )

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A dual timeline set in Edinburgh 1920's and Kathmandu 2020's. For me the setting in Nepal was interesting. Never having been there, this novel opened a new world to me and it was fascinating. My thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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I really enjoyed this book. I have read others by this author and like her writing style. I connected with both Violet and Daisy's stories, but wish there had been more about Violet. I thought the way the beginning of the pandemic was portrayed was spot on. This was the first book I have seen or read that was set in Nepal, so I found that very interesting. After checking out the author's website I saw it was also well researched. Thanks to Netgalley for allowing me to read the ARC. Definitely recommend!

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I want to go to Nepal! I think that is enough as a recommendation, but I will write a bit more. The story was captivating on both levels, present and past. The characters are lovable and I could identify with them. The pandemic is present but not in a scary or overwhelming way. Nepal is shown as a very nice and interesting country without usual one dimensional European point of view. I can recommend this book highly!

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This was the first book I’ve read in which part of its timeline takes place during 2020 at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. However not a “stuck at home” story as many of us were during those first weeks, Daisy, a divorced mother entering empty-nest stage of life, is on her way to Kathmandu and ends up unable to travel back home because of the pandemic. Through Daisy’s journey of tracking down the past thanks to her great-great-aunt Violet’s journals from when in 1927 she was a student of Edinburgh’s School of Gardening for Women, Daisy is able to connect with family history that was unknown.

Through this story I learned a lot of interesting information regarding the Sherpa people and their way of life as well as botanists and how they ventured into dangerous places to make discoveries.

Thanks to Net Galley and Lake Union Publishing for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Outstanding! One of the best books I have read - thank you Fiona Valpy!

Not usually a title I would pick (I prefer WW1/WW2 fiction) but I was drawn to the storyline as my Dad watched and read lots about Everest and mountaineering when I was child. The Sherpas have always fascinated me and whilst I knew their way of life was hard until I'd read this book I don't think I realised how hard. The storyline both past and present that was spent in Nepal was beautifully written. Reading I kept searching the internet for place names so I could truly picture them, the same with the names of flowers. The portrayal of the Buddhist religion again made me want to learn more and gave me an even greater respect for it.

The storyline has lots of twists and turns and keeps the reader engaged. The characters were all easy to like and relate too. Living through the Covid era many memories for some are still raw but the author reflected on it accurately and with compassion.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. I've read others by the author but this one is by far the best. Once again thank you!

Thanks also to NetGalley and the publishers for allowing me to read this Arc copy.

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What a beautiful story The Sky Beneath Us by Fiona Valpy was. Set in two different time periods, it describes the life journies of both main characters as they make their way to the Himalaya to find themselves and family. I didn't want it to end. 5 stars!

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Set in the foothills of Mount Everest, Nepal, this dual timeline book is just stunning.

In 1927, Violet heads to Nepal to follow her sweetheart, Callum, only to find heartbreak.

Almost 100 years later, in 2020, just as the Covid pandemic is taking hold, recently divorced empty nester Daisy and her mother are headed to Nepal, armed with Violet’s journal, planning to follow in her footsteps up the mountain. But the pandemic has other ideas and Daisy ends up alone in locked down Nepal. As she becomes ingrained in the Nepalese way of life, she finds that far from being alone, she has a bigger family surrounding her than she could have ever imagined.

I loved this beautifully written book, with characters I could completely relate to, breathtaking descriptions that took me right to the mountain and a story that highlights the strength and resilience of women.

4.5 ⭐️ Thanks to Netgalley, Fiona Valpy and Lake Union for an ARC in return for an honest review.

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Fiona Valpy’s Under the Skies is a riveting novel that tells the story of two women, Violet Mackenzie-Grant and Daisy Laverock, on a journey of self-discovery across Scotland and Nepal. When faced with challenges such as a pandemic and adversity, they draw strength from each other’s determination and the stories they share.

This book is truly a gem. It takes you through the stunning landscapes of Nepal, telling the parallel adventures of Daisy in 2020 and her great-great-grandmother Violet in the 1930s. It’s like taking two epic journeys at once! The adventurous spirit of the story is captivating, and Daisy’s solo trek and Violet’s historical journey kept me enthralled from beginning to end. Their warm connection, resilience, and the family secrets Daisy uncovers are deeply moving and relatable. Fiona Valpy’s vivid descriptions made me feel like I was right there with them, experiencing every moment.

Thanks to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for this ARC

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This book is an absolute gem. Imagine being whisked away to the stunning landscapes of Nepal following the parallel adventures of Daisy in 2020 and her great-great-aunt Violet in the 1930s. It's like taking two epic journeys at once!I loved how adventurous it was. Daisy's solo trek and Violet's historical travels had me hooked from start to finish.Their connection was really heartfelt. The stories of resilience and the family secrets Daisy uncovers are deeply moving and relatable.And the writing's vivid descriptions made me feel like I was right there with them, experiencing every moment.Highly recommended for fans of historical and contemporary fiction alike!

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3.5 stars. I was so excited to request the ARC of this book as I have been in an Everest reading kick. To my delight, that was one of the things the author did really well in this book. Her writing on Sherpas and Nepalese culture was beautiful. I also really enjoyed the botany talk. Told in dual timelines starting in 1929 and 2020 we follow two women in the same family trying to find themselves through personal struggle. The only reason I can’t give this a higher rating is that I felt like the 2020 storyline fell flat. We know what happens in the characters past to push her to travel to Nepal, but it was only a brief explanation and her struggles were never fully explained. Without a complete backstory I felt like I couldn’t fully root for her character and was left wanting more in that timeline.

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This book follows two timelines in 2020 from Daisy`s POV and 1927 from Daisy`s great -aunt Violet's POV. This was my first novel by this author and I quite enjoyed it -- The descriptions of the areas in Scotland and Nepal, the people and the characters were quite vividly written and helped to keep me equally intrigued with both timelines, I enjoyed the focus on women in botany and the profession of gathering information on plants-- I also enjoyed the adventure of following in Violet's foots steps of Violet`s past to lead to Daisy's future. The authors notes at the end and her dedication to the research and accuracy is to be applauded as she combines well truth with fiction. The parallels between the timelines was well done also-- though memories of 2020 and the intense pandemic years is not looked fondly upon as it is still too close for a comfort to read about for many people but it is a reality of history that we must face.

Thanks to Netgalley and Lake Union Publishing for this ARC. This is my honest review.

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This is the first book I've read from Fiona Valpy but it won't be the last! What a delightful. compelling and overall amazing story this is.
There's a great attention to details providing a strong sense of place and time. You really feel as if you're there, breathing the fresh mountain air and smelling those gorgeous flowers. I must admit it took me a while to get into the story, but a few chapters on and I was hooked. This said, I wasn't entirely convinced I wanted to relive those dreaded early months of the pandemic; in fact I have avoided any published work on the matter ( be it fact or fiction ) so far. Here it somehow is pivotal to the story-line and I found it only marginally disturbing, but I think I would have liked it best if it had been set at a later date.
The characters are inspiring and the research behind them is praiseworthy. They'll stay with me for a long time and having learned they were mentioned in a previous work, I'll go and read it asap!
Great quotes, too! My favourite ( basically the book explained in a few words ) : Journey far, but travel within.
May I recommend watching the documentary that the author shoot while on location researching for the book. So inspiring.
I think this story would make an amazing film.
Thank you to Lake Union, the author and NetGalley for an early copy.
#TheSkyBeneathUs #NetGalley

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This was my 7th Fiona Valpy novel and I believe it’s her best yet! Not only was it wonderful to change settings, but it was great to revisit Daisy, whom I’d ‘met’ two books previously, in The Skylark’s Secret.

What a spectacular cover!

The writing between the covers is just as inviting and compelling. Valpy’s story is made so much more immersive because of her ‘boots on the ground’ experience. I loved my armchair visit to Phortse, a remote village in the Himalayas.

Valpy introduces readers to two characters who are at a crossroads, unsure of what to do next. They’ve lost sight of where they were going and who they used to be. Violet Mackenzie-Grant thought she had choices; after all, she was attending the Edinburgh School of Gardening for Women in the 1920s. Unfortunately, she discovers that her level of self-determination is realized by someone else who wields power over her. She ultimately sacrifices her position in society for love and discovers it’s really a plan of salvation.

Violet’s great-granddaughter, Daisy Laverock, is struggling, too, and decides that finding her Auntie Violet (who’d gone missing) would give her life direction. I got swept up in a beautiful story about two people who allowed the wind to change their lives instead of living with regrets. They learned to put one foot in front of the other and reach a place where they could see the sky. In doing so, they left behind the people they’d become and found exhilaration and liberty in re-finding their former selves.

Highlighted quotes:
💜“It’s only when we stop clinging on to the plans we’ve made that we step on to the middle way - the way of the unknown. We call this the sacred path of the warrior.”
💜“Sometimes in the river of life you just have to throw your heart in and dive in after it.”
💜“Life falls apart; and maybe some things can’t be mended, but perhaps they can be reshaped into something even more beautiful.”
💜“I wasn’t playing all the wrong notes. I was playing all the right notes, just no necessarily in the right order.”
💜“Journey far, but travel within.”

I won’t forget this bookish journey! Days later, the setting and people are still fresh in my mind.

I was gifted this copy by Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley and was under no obligation to provide a review.

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This is the kind of book that inspires you to take a moment to write down memorable quotes. Inspiring, in fact, is a good word for the book as a whole. I loved that the main characters, Violet and Daisy were women who prove to be indomitable spirits.
Part of me really didn't want to relive the early days of the pandemic, but the time in which this book takes place comes to feel very. important as the narrative goes on. The book actually tells two parallel stories: one that begins in 1929 and the other that takes place in 2020. I became fond of both first person narrators (one through her journals) because of their struggles and the ways in which their trials and tribulations changed them. I won't spoil the ending but I will say it was a satisfying, believable one.
A small quibble: Sometimes the shift from the past to the present (and vice versa) was confusing, especially once the setting in which they find themselves intersects. I had to stop and think back to what had happened the last time the time shifted. That said, I wouldn't change a thing. This is a very popular genre these days (parallel narratives) because it works!
Thanks to the publisher for providing a digital copy via NetGalley.

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Yet another gripping book by Fiona.
The book creatively moves from the 1920's to 2020 when Covid was rife throughout the world.
The description of the landscapes both in Scotland and Himalaya was magical; also the descriptions of the various seeds plus plants.
Great believable characters who through the pages we feel the love, strengths, friendships, communities and determination.
I loved the history content especially about Sherpas and their beliefs around the world's tallest mountain range.

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