Winner of the 2014 Miles Franklin Award
Who or what is watching Jake Whyte from the woods?
Jake Whyte is the sole resident of an old farmhouse on an unnamed island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. It’s just her, her untamed companion, Dog, and a flock of sheep. Which is how she wanted it to be. But something is coming for the sheep – every few nights it picks one off, leaves it in rags.
It could be anything. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumours of an obscure, formidable beast. And there is Jake’s unknown past, perhaps breaking into the present, a story hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, in a landscape of different colour and sound, a story held in the scars that stripe her back.
Set between Australia and a remote English island, All the Birds, Singing is the story of one how one woman’s present comes from a terrible past. It is the second novel from the award-winning author of After the Fire, A Still Small Voice.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Evie Wyld was named in Granta’s 2013 list of Best Young Novelists, and All the Birds, Singing demonstrates why. This beautifully written, skillfully plotted tale tells the story of a woman whose journey in life goes from shearing in remote Western Australia to farming on an English island, all to escape a traumatic past that refuses to stay buried.
In the searing second novel from Wyld (After the Fire, a Still Small Voice), the past takes real and imagined forms, all terrifying, in its protagonist's life. Jake Whyte, a young Englishwoman, is a sheep farmer on a desolate scrap of island very like the Isle of Wight, where the author, who was named one of the best young British novelists of 2013 by Granta, spent much of her childhood. In the present, something, or someone, is gruesomely killing Jake's sheep. Her traumatic past includes a stint as a prostitute and a relationship with the creepy Otto, who ostensibly "rescues" Jake from the streets, only to turn her into a sex slave of sorts. Jake's current fears include a man in a suit who shows up on her property, and a shadowy beast that she heard going berserk in her cottage one night. Wyld's writing is as muscular as Jake, who, when spooked, drops to the floor to do push-ups. But Jake is troubled as well as strong, running from the many tragedies in her past, including one experience that left a nasty scar on her back. It is a testament to Wyld's vivid storytelling that readers will feel determined to drag themselves through her tale's more unsavory moments to its final revelation.
Not complete. Bones are there for great novel
This book had an interesting character and suspense throughout. The author seemed to move back and forth through time and did it well. However the ending was one of those incomplete ones. So much more could have been explained and more detail given around some very interesting relationships and circumstances. I was very disappointed.
Would be more satisfying if it was finished
Good story with strong prose and I even enjoyed the unique sequencing of events. My one major complaint is that the ending was so abrupt that it felt unfinished, like the final chapter was somehow scrubbed from existence. This book felt more like a novella than a novel.
All the Birds, Singing
One of the best books in the history of literary fiction. Full stop.