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Review: All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

All the Birds, Singing, is marvellous.  I woke up this morning and thought, “I can read that Evie Wyld book!”  Then I got home from work and felt the same.

It’s been a while since I felt that much enjoyment just from the words the author uses and the scenes she paints.

The story is about two mysterious strands in Jake Whyte’s life, past and present.  Jake has settled on a remote British island, but is fleeing from something in her childhood/early adulthood in Australia.

The mystery of the present involves the deaths, one by one, of Jake’s sheep.  There is menace on the island regarding who she can and can’t trust out of her fellow sheep shearers,

It’s got the subtle hallmarks of a proper mystery too, with all sorts of red herrings laid out in sight on the way.  Although like Jake herself, the book is very much: “Here I am.  I’m not going to explain myself, or fit myself to anything.  I’m just here.”  Characterisation is sparsely drawn, reflecting Jake’s wariness of the world, but effective.  She doesn’t dwell over much on others’ motivations or histories, just tells it as she sees it.

I do admire it when an author makes every moment count, and that’s true of this book, which is quite short at just over 200 pages, but intense.  And boy, does it get intense.  But there are some lovely moments of humanity, and a lot of the tenderness that the reader really needs from a book so as not to become overwhelmed comes from the moments with the animals – the way Jake cares for her sheep, and the way she and her dog rely on each other.

The most interesting thing about this book was the way in which it tackled the problem of current Western literature being largely about addressing the problems of the middle classes, using the language of the middle classes.  How can we use language differently, to convey different ways of thinking, without producing a piece of art that feels in some way curtailed or limited?  In finding a solution to this problem, All the Birds, Singing excelled.

 

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10 Comments

  1. Oh that sounds just lovely! I’ve browsed through several reviews of this book but I love how you’ve shared your excitement about reading it. I’m definitely going to read it when I’m done with my current library haul!

    • There’s so much I want to read at the moment just through reviews on people’s blogs! This was a good read though, as it was not too long, but contained a lot to provoke thought. And it was exciting too!

  2. I have been thinking of you. Wondering how the house situation is going and thinking about how you seem to whip up such wonderful meals and always be doing some of the great things life has to offer! Good to see your review! I like authors who write imagery with their words. Of course I would! Take care, Denise!

    • It was hot dogs all round tonight (with salad and home made dressing)! I do have lots of mundane nights, especially in the summer, when it’s too hot to put the oven or hob on.

      • The hob is the bit on the top of the cooker that boils  and fries stuff.  Trying to think what you might call it in the USA, or anything else that we might call it… and failing!

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  3. Sounds like you really enjoyed this book! At 200 pages it’s appealing to me – I’m struggling with my current 500-pager!!!

    • I get cross sometimes with unnecessarily long books. My time is precious! What book is it though?

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