Book Review: All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld
May 14, 2014 10 Comments
All the Birds, Singing: What it is about
From the publishers: “Jake Whyte is living on her own in an old farmhouse on a craggy British island, a place of ceaseless rain and battering wind. Her disobedient collie, Dog, and a flock of sheep are her sole companions, which is how she wants it to be. But every few nights something—or someone—picks off one of the sheep and sounds a new deep pulse of terror. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, and rumors of an obscure, formidable beast. And there is also Jake’s past, hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, held in the silences about her family and the scars that stripe her back—a past that threatens to break into the present. With exceptional artistry and empathy, All the Birds, Singing reveals an isolated life in all its struggles and stubborn hopes, unexpected beauty, and hard-won redemption.“
All the Birds, Singing: What I thought
This was a wonderful read. Jake (a woman!) keeps to herself, living alone in her farmhouse. She seems to be constantly worried that someone (in particular) has located her. But who? Some of her sheep get killed and she needs to find out who is doing this before it gets out of hand. Because of this, she has to interact with other people and slowly comes out of her shell.
In a parallel story, Jake is followed back in time. One chapter sees her just before she arrives at the farm, then, after another chapter in the current time, we go back in time to the moment before the moment before she arrives at the farm. Bit by bit, we follow her back through time and discover what she’s so scared of.
This book was set up really cleverly. I loved that every other chapter we went further back in time. At any time, you know what’s happening at that moment, but interestingly enough, the time before this often brings a new surprise. Because we go back in time, this story line felt somewhat fragmented, almost as if you were reading a new short story every time, that fitted in some way with what you’d read earlier. However, this was not a problem. The forward story line anchored Jake in place and in time, while the backward story revealed her interesting past.
The writing is very good too. The isolation of Jake at her farm feels very real and her interaction with others was clearly reluctant.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (very good)
Number of pages: 272
First published: 2014
I got this: from the publishers, Knopf, for review
Genre: contemporary fiction