The #TFBookClub reads ‘A Map of the Sky’, set in NORTH YORKSHIRE

3rd November 2019

Thank you for joining us as we read A Map of the Sky by Claire Wong, set in NORTH YORKSHIRE, near the Cleveland Way (November/December 2019).

We hope you enjoy reading this uplifting and life-affirming novel, taking us on a delightful journey through NORTH YORKSHIRE with the eyes of eleven year old Kit, eyes raised skywards….

We will be chatting about the book throughout November and December 2019, so if you are reading it with us, please come and join the dialogue!

The #TFBookClub is your book club – we are here to help you discover new titles that will transport you to interesting locations via top literature for some exceptional #literarywanderlust.

As you read, please come and chat and share your thoughts in several ways:

  • Here on our dedicated blogpost, leave your thoughts in the Comments section below
  • On TWITTER using #TFBookClub
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  • And once you’ve turned the final page, we’d love it if you could write your own review, which you can do on using the Add A Review tab. Help us to build the #TFBookClub and the TripFiction website!


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  1. User: lapsapchung

    Posted on: 27/01/2020 at 9:12 am

    I’m so sorry to be so late to comment on this book, it somehow got buried under a pile of Christmas paperwork and only came to light when I was tidying up last week. So I read it this weekend – and what a treat it was, a sheer joy to read.
    For the first few pages I thought the book was set in the 1950s, Catherine seemed like a very old fashioned mother with a rather old fashioned relationship with her children – then somebody mentioned the wi-fi password and I was catapulted into the 21st century.
    Kit, the main character, is a rather grown up 11 year old – some of the other commenters have mentioned it surprising that he can relate so easily to adults but I have a “grown up before her time” 11 year old granddaughter so I could thoroughly understand his character.
    I loved the descriptions of the coastline and could picture clearly the various places they visited. Although there was no real suspense or excitement in the book, just like Kit I didn’t manage to guess the reason for the family’s sudden move north and apparent division until it was all revealed.
    A very relaxing, satisfying read.


  2. User: JessicaRabbit31

    Posted on: 11/01/2020 at 6:44 pm

    At the forefront of this novel is Kit an 11 year old boy and the story is depicted through his eyes. He’s a dreamer and always sees the best in everyone and is incredibly eager to please. You can’t pick any fault with his character. As an avid reader he is inspired by King Arthur to go about his own quest.

    The writing style is enjoyable and it is what I would class as easy reading. I uprooted when I was 13 and moved down south so I can totally empathise with him being a southerner and moving up north and generally feeling a little bit lost.

    Although the concept of this story was pretty promising it seemed to lack any excitement for me, I felt that Kit’s quest could have been a bit more developed and as much as I enjoyed this as a nice quick but enjoyable read I can only award three stars as I found it to be mediocre at best.


  3. User: Claire Broomsgrove

    Posted on: 04/01/2020 at 6:07 pm

    Apologies for the late review. I enjoyed this gentle read more than I thought I would from the books description. I thought Kit was a wonderful character I could imagine a small boy full of aspirations and ideas. I particularly enjoyed his relationship with Bert, the birdwatcher, I was so pleased they eventually found their albatross at the end of the book. I could feel myself by the sea and the rugged Yorkshire landscape, quite a difference from the confines of London, I thought the children adapted well, it would have been interesting to meet Kits father. His mother Catherine did appear to be work obsessed and selfish, perhaps portraying the the difficulties of modern family life. A pleasing book.


  4. User: Melanie Daniels

    Posted on: 22/12/2019 at 8:27 pm

    Hi. Sorry, I am much later in finishing this book than I had hoped – partly because December is such a busy month, and partly because (unfortunately) I just never properly got into this novel. I wanted to read it as I love the North Yorkshire coast and have spent a lot of time there, however, somehow the plot wasn’t gripping enough to keep my attention. Although this was a short novel with a gentle and undemanding storyline I struggled to read it and found that I just couldn’t concentrate. To be fair to the novel, perhaps the demands of planning Christmas with a young family contributed to my short attention span, but overall the plot just didn’t keep my interest. The storyline meandered along, the characters grated on me a little and unfortunately I just didn’t ever really warm to this book in general and wasn’t ever really motivated to keep turning the pages.


  5. User: Margie Hunter

    Posted on: 18/12/2019 at 2:56 am

    I enjoyed this story, and while I didn’t feel the Yorkshire location as much as I thought I would, I could easily imagine Askfeld and the sea, cliffs, and pathways around it.
    I agree with the comment made earlier that this could be a cautionary tale about adults who fail to communicate with the young. Lack of communication has been fueling novels forever. Poor young Kit has been left in the dark to imagine all sorts of things.
    This is a book that might appeal to younger readers, too, a good book for readers finding their way into the adult library stacks. The story isn’t complex, and middle grade readers would find a lot to relate to in Kit.


  6. User:

    Posted on: 09/12/2019 at 1:01 pm

    When I heard what the subject of this novel was, another story about a boy trying to understand and cope with what’s happening around him, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, came to mind. A Map of the Sky turned out to be a gentler, less complex read, but nonetheless, an enjoyable one. Perhaps it should be seen as a cautionary tale about not trusting the young, who often see things more clearly and with less self interest than adults.
    Eleven year old Kit made an engaging main character whose efforts to help those around him may have been misguided, but he was hardly to blame when his parents kept the truth from him. My only criticism of the character, and I admit I don’t know any eleven year old boys very well, was that maybe he was a little too grown up for his age.
    I found the various supporting characters interesting and well conveyed and the writing style very easy and pleasant to read.
    Catherine the mother, was rather a tiger mum, (with the best of intentions, of course), but there was an indication that she had learnt from experience towards the end of the book. I liked the hopeful ending.
    I agree with readers who have said they didn’t feel a strong sense of place, although I can’t put my finger on exactly why it seemed missing. Overall, I was glad I read the book and would probably read more by the author.


  7. User: Sara Hill

    Posted on: 07/12/2019 at 4:54 pm

    I loved it. It was such a change to see the world through the eyes of an 11 year old boy. Uprooted from his London home with his elder sister and his mother leaving their father back in London, Kit has no friends of his own age and finds that he gets on well with adults Beth and Bert who live in the boarding house. Kit has a series of adventures where he tries to help Beth (who has an mystery illness as well as being pregnant) to draw a map of all her favourite childhood haunts.haunts. I enjoyed his attempts to help Bert see the elusive albatross and also his efforts to help Maddie, (another long term guest ) to sort out her problems.
    As the summer progressed Kit’s relationship with his sister Juliet grew stronger and it was interesting to discover the real reason why they had been uprooted to Yorkshire.
    I did like the happy ending


  8. User: Janine Phillips

    Posted on: 06/12/2019 at 10:27 pm

    I haven’t received a copy yet x


  9. User: Lesley Morton-Evans

    Posted on: 05/12/2019 at 12:03 pm

    Firstly thank you for my copy.
    It was a typical December Yorkshire coast day, the fret wasn’t lifting whilst I devoured the story in almost one sitting and it amused me that Claire Wong made mention of the coastal fret in the novel. However, apart from the description of Whitby, the book wasn’t as strong on location as I’d hoped. Having said that, I did enjoy the story. I very much liked the main character Kit and found it refreshing to view the World through his 11 yr old eyes. At times I felt the story was set in an earlier era as he didn’t seem to be the usual child of our times, his innocence and desire to solve everyone’s problems was endearing.
    Nevertheless, the story did cover modern-day issues of family communication problems, peer-group bullying and the pressures parents face in the current world. It also highlighted how children should not feel excluded.
    I liked Claire Wong’s style of writing and found it an easy read which left me satisfied. Maddie’s description of the ruins at Whitby “beautiful even if they aren’t as they used to be” I’ll hang onto. Thank you Claire.


    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 05/12/2019 at 12:50 pm

      Thanks for your thoughts on our current TripFiction Book Club read, Lesley. And you read it while in Yorkshire, and experienced the same sea fret that the author talks about in the story. The essence of TripFiction! Glad you enjoyed the book…look out for the next one in Jan/Feb.


  10. User: Rachel Hall

    Posted on: 24/11/2019 at 10:09 pm

    Enchanting & quietly compelling look at the changing world from the perspective of an 11 yr old boy.

    A Map of the Sky is Claire Wong’s second novel and is an utterly beguiling and quietly compelling look at the changing circumstances and upheaval in the life of an eleven year old adventure loving young boy. Keen for all to be right with the world around him, Christopher Shackleton Fisher (‘Kit’) is confused by the problem of his family’s strange behaviour and their sudden relocation weeks earlier than planned to Yorkshire without his Dad. These are just some of the mysteries that he endeavours to solve in the summer ahead as the Fisher’s stay at rural Askfeld Farm Guest House whilst awaiting delivery of the furniture for their new home in the neighbouring village. But with his mother, Catherine, busying herself on her laptop and handing over her old job and his soon to be sixteen year old perfectionist sister Juliet (‘Jules’) having withdrawn into studying and seeming lost her sense of humour as she awaits her GCSE results, Kit is wondering how and when everything changed.

    With asking questions recategorised as bad behaviour overnight and a shorter and sharper response each time he asks his mother when his father is joining them, Kit is instructed to ‘be helpful and keep out of trouble’. Inquisitive, well-intentioned, sociable and somewhat precocious, it doesn’t take Kit long to make friends with the fellow guests (both elderly and eccentric) and the chronically ill and heavily pregnant young woman, Beth Garsdale, who together with husband Sean, owns the guesthouse.

    Although it takes Kit a while to grasp the exact implications of Beth’s health issues (chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia) as they talk about books and adventures he makes short work of discovering her ambitious plan to create a local map of her favourite childhood haunts for her impending arrival. But with some memories blurry and Beth largely confined to the guesthouse Kit is certain that he can help with rediscovering the lookout points, where to skim stones and secret pathways that she clearly remembers. Helping the two elderly guests he grows fond of could present more of a challenge however, as irascible former teacher Maddie Morley’s prepares for the final leg of her ‘pilgrimage’ and disgraced professor and birdwatcher, Bert, seeks to restore his reputation.

    As Kit sets out to visit the locations and present his findings to Beth to paint on her map, he finds his efforts thwarted by Sean who he fears is intent on keeping him away from his wife and his mother’s thinly veiled scepticism of Beth’s invisible illness, batty Maddie and rambling elderly birdwatcher, Bert, spoiling his missions. Even if he can’t be the gallivanting, all-conquering hero and solve the strange happenings in his own family, might Kit be able to help his new friends? And, as his adventures play out and Catherine and Jules find themselves caught up in his schemes, will Kit finally reunite his fractured family?

    The story is entirely relayed from Kit’s perspective and captures perfectly the frustration that comes with not being privy to the whole truth about his families move, his father’s absence and the cloud of despondency surrounding Juliet. From adults avoiding issues, changing the subject and providing ever more cryptic answers to Kit, and him getting the wrong end of the stick and misconstruing eavesdropped conversations, there is plenty of excellent social observation and character insights.

    I was surprised to find that the novel is published by Christian publishers, Lion Hudson, as there is nothing overtly preachy or even a single reference to God in the story. Whilst the novel is clean and free of profanities it does touch up several modern issues that are typically thought of as first-world problems, such as peer pressure, social media and buckling under the pressure to be perfect and hence feels very timely.

    An uplifting and sensitively handled story with excellent characterisation and depth. Whilst the pace of the novel is leisurely and a few aspects of the story proved predictable I was impressed that there were still a couple of unexpected surprises to come in a moving denouement.



    • User: Julie Ryan

      Posted on: 30/11/2019 at 5:29 am

      Really enjoying this book so far. The author captures the worry of 11 year old Kit perfectly as he tries to make sense of the world around him.


    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 24/11/2019 at 10:20 pm

      Thanks, Rachel, for such a considered and positive comment about ‘A Map of the Sky’. Really glad you enjoyed our current #TFBookClub read, and thanks again for taking the time to participate.
      TF’s Andrew


  11. User: Sue Dawson

    Posted on: 23/11/2019 at 10:50 am

    I loved this tale as it was simply told I think. We forget that children need to be told what is happening in their lives, if not told they make things up to fit with what they think they know and usually get it very wrong as a consequence. Kit was told to be helpful so he was he just got it bit wrong as he didn’t have all the facts.


    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 23/11/2019 at 4:08 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment on the current #TFBookClub read, Sue, and glad you enjoyed it. Communication is so important, eh….whatever the age!
      TF’s Andrew


  12. User: Harriet Steel

    Posted on: 21/11/2019 at 8:38 am

    Unfortunately, I didn’t get a copy, so I may be a bit late to the party. Bev’s review is encouraging and I too know parts of the N Yorkshire coast quite well, but as the Kindle edition is almost the price of a paperback, I think I’ll wait until it comes in at the library.


    1 Comment

    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 23/11/2019 at 4:06 pm

      Hello Harriet
      Oh dear, so sorry you haven’t received your copy of the book yet. I’ll chase the publisher again and hopefully you’ll receive it soon….in time to join the #TFBookClub party.
      TF’s Andrew


  13. User: Bev

    Posted on: 17/11/2019 at 3:50 pm

    A different style of writing, seeing the world through the eyes of an 11 year old. I hope I don’t inadvertently put in any spoilers here.
    It is an easy read with a storyline that keeps you guessing. I wonder what others think of CATHERINE, the mother?
    Also, Kit develops a relationship with Beth, which I also wonder about. When I got to the end I understood the need that Kit had. I’m also interested in what other readers think.
    I found it surprising that an 11 year old boy had the confidence to develop the relationships he did with the adult characters.

    I am familiar with parts of the N Yorkshire coast and one of the reasons I wanted to read this book was because it is set there. There is good descriptive passages about the sea and sky, but in terms of sense of place it was not enough to Make me feel I was there.



    • User: andrewmorris51

      Posted on: 23/11/2019 at 4:13 pm

      Thanks for the thoughtful comments on ‘A Map of the Sky’, Bev.

      Looking forward to hearing what other readers think of the book, although possibly not one of the best #TFBookClub reads, and a shame that the sense of place isn’t stronger.

      TF’s Andrew


    • User: Sue Dawson

      Posted on: 23/11/2019 at 10:56 am

      Bev, I thought Catherine was typical of a lot of very driven mothers in that she didn’t make time to tell her children exactly what was happening but on the other hand she had brought them up to be confident and able to respond to adults in positive way and as Kit was at a loose end he turned to the only people available and they just happened to adults who to him needed help.


Enter the 2021TripFiction 'Sense of Place' Creative Writing Competition!

A story in which the location plays as important a role as the rest of your words.

2,500 word maximum, 750 word minimum

Judges include Victoria Hislop and Rosanna Ley

First Prize of £1,000 / US$1,350

Prizes total £1,750 / US$2,362 

Winning entry published on TripFiction site and publicised on Social Media

Entries close 6th November 2021