Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

"All the birds singing" by Evie Wyld (Vintage, 2014)

There are two storylines told in alternative chapters, both told in the first person by a female. One of the storylines is told backwards. She's homeless in Australia, becomes a prostitute, gets a proposition from a regular client and gradually ends up being help captive by him on his farm. She learns to look after sheep, escapes, taking his money. She freelances as a sheep-shearer. Someone discovers her secret.

In the other thread she owns a small sheep farm on a island off Scotland, but she fears a past enemy will catch up with her. She has a dog she calls "Dog". Each time there's a suspicious noise the author can mention it twice, noting the dog's reaction then the woman's.

There's suspense generated by seeing the consequences before the causes. The scars on her back and her attitude to fire are explained only near the end, as is, to some extent, her attitude to sex. I thought the writing was good throughout.

Other reviews

  • Tim Lewis
  • Maile Meloy (It’s swift and assured and emotionally wrenching)
  • Catherine Taylor
  • Stevie Davis (Thriller, beast-fable and fantasy, Evie Wyld's second novel is a sparky, dark yarn set in a georgic world of sheep husbandry where things have gone spectacularly awry. ... If, on the narrative level, Wyld's novel has an artificial and generic feel, poetry of wit, pity and verbal virtuosity enlivens and deepens it)

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