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Book
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Edition:
First American Edition.
Publisher, Date:
New York : Pantheon Books, 2014.
©2013
Description:
231 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
"From one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists, a stunningly insightful, emotionally powerful new novel about an outsider haunted by an inescapable past: a story of loneliness and survival, guilt and loss, and the power of forgiveness. Jake Whyte is living on her own in an old farmhouse on a craggy British island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. Her disobedient collie, Dog, and a flock of sheep are her sole companions, which is how she wanted 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, 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."-- Provided by publisher.
Notes:
Previously published: London, Jonathan Cape, an imprint of Random House Group Limited, 2013.
"A novel"--Jacket.
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LCCN:
2013033090
ISBN:
9780307907769 (hardback)
0307907767 (hardback)
Other Number:
852457478
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"From one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists, a stunningly insightful, emotionally powerful new novel about an outsider haunted by an inescapable past: a story of loneliness and survival, guilt and loss, and the power of forgiveness. Jake Whyte isliving on her own in an old farmhouse on a craggy British island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. Her disobedient collie, Dog, and a flock of sheep are her sole companions, which is how she wanted 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, 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"-- - (Baker & Taylor)

Living in voluntary isolation with only a disobedient collie and a flock of sheep for companions, a woman on a storm-battered British island struggles with memories about her haunted past and endures fear of an unknown assailant that has been targeting her sheep. - (Baker & Taylor)

Living in voluntary isolation with only a disobedient collie and a flock of sheep for companions, a woman on a storm-battered British island struggles with memories about her haunted past and endures fear of an unknown assailant that has been targeting her sheep. By the award-winning author of After the Fire, a Still Small Voice. 30,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)

From one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists, a stunningly insightful, emotionally powerful new novel about an outsider haunted by an inescapable past: a story of loneliness and survival, guilt and loss, and the power of forgiveness.

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. - (Random House, Inc.)

Author Biography

EVIE WYLD grew up in Australia and London, where she currently resides. She has won the John Llewellyn-Rhys prize and a Betty Trask Award, and she has been short-listed for the Orange Award for New Writers, the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize, and the Costa Novel Award.

- (Random House, Inc.)

First Chapter or Excerpt

All the birds, Singing

A Novel


By Evie Wyld

Random House LLC

Copyright © 2014 Evie Wyld
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-307-90776-9


CHAPTER 1

Another sheep, mangled and bled out, her innards not yet crusting and the vapours rising from her like a steamed pudding. Crows, their beaks shining, strutting and rasping, and when I waved my stick they flew to the trees and watched, flaring out their wings, singing, if you could call it that. I shoved my boot in Dog's face to stop him from taking a string of her away with him as a souvenir, and he kept close by my side as I wheeled the carcass out of the field and down into the woolshed.

I'd been up that morning, before the light came through, out there, talking to myself, telling the dog about the things that needed doing as the blackbirds in the hawthorn started up. Like a mad woman, listening to her own voice, the wind shoving it back down my throat and hooting over my open mouth like it had done every morning since I moved to the island. With the trees rattling in the copse and the sheep blaring out behind me, the same trees, the same wind and sheep.

That made two deaths in a month. The rain started to come down, and a sudden gust of wind flung sheep shit at the back of my neck so it stung. I pulled up my collar and shielded my eyes with my hand.

Cree-cra, cold, cree-cra, cold.

"What are you laughing at?" I shouted at the crows and lobbed a stone at them. I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand and breathed in and out heavily to get rid of the blood smell. The crows were silent. When I turned to look, five of them sat in a row on the same branch, eyeing me but not speaking. The wind blew my hair in my eyes.

* * *

The farm shop at Marling had a warped and faded sign at the foot of its gate that read FREE BABY GUINEA PIGS. There was never any trace of the free guinea pigs and I had passed the point of being able to ask. The pale daughter of the owner was there, doing a crossword. She looked up at me, then looked back down like she was embarrassed.

"Hi," I said.

She blushed but gave me the smallest of acknowledgements. She wore a thick green tracksuit and her hair was in a ponytail. Around her eyes was the faint redness that came after a night of crying or drinking.

Normally the potatoes from that place were good, but they all gave a little bit when I picked them up. I put them back down and moved over to tomatoes, but they weren't any good either. I looked up out the window to where the farm's greenhouse stood and saw the glass was all broken.

"Hey," I said to the girl, who when I turned around was already looking at me, sucking the end of her pencil. "What happened to your greenhouse?"

"The wind," she said, taking her pencil to the side of her mouth just for a moment. "Dad said to say the wind blew it in."

I could see the glass scattered outside where normally they kept pots of ugly pink cyclamen with a sign that said THE JEWEL FOR YOUR WINTER GARDEN. Just black earth and glass now.

"Wow," I said.

"Things always get mad on New Year's Eve," said the girl in an older voice that surprised both of us. She blushed deeper and turned her eyes back to her crossword. In the greenhouse, the man who normally ran the shop sat with his head in his hands.

I took some oranges and leeks and lemons to the counter. I didn't need anything, the trip was more about the drive than the supplies. The girl dropped her pencil out of her mouth and started to count oranges, but wasn't sure of herself and started again a few times over. There was a smell of alcohol about her, masked by too much perfume. A hangover then. I imagined an argument with her father. I looked up at the greenhouse again, the man in it still with his head in his hands, the wind blowing through.

"Are there nine there?" she asked, and even though I hadn't counted as I put them in the basket I said yes. She tapped things into the till.

"Must be hard to lose the greenhouse," I said, noticing a small blue bruise at the girl's temple. She didn't look up.

"It's not so bad. We should have had an order over from the mainland, but the ferry's not going today."

"The ferry's not going?"

"Weather's too bad," she said, again in that old voice that embarrassed us both.

"I've never known that to happen."

"It happens," she said, putting my oranges in one bag and the rest in another. "They built the new boats too big so they aren't safe in bad weather."

"Do you know what the forecast is?"

The girl glanced up at me quickly and lowered her eyes again.

"No. Four pounds twenty please." She slowly counted out my money. It took two goes to get the change right. I wondered what new thing she'd heard about me. It was time to leave, but I didn't move.

"So what's with the free guinea pigs?"

The flush came back to her face. "They've gone. We gave them to my brother's snake. There were loads."

"Oh."

The girl smiled. "It was years ago."

"Sure," I said.

The girl put the pencil back in her mouth and her eyes fluttered back down to her crossword. She was just colouring in the white squares, it turned out.

In the truck, I found I had left the oranges in the shop. I looked out of my rear-view mirror at the smashed greenhouse and saw the man inside standing up with his hands on his hips looking at me. I locked the doors and drove away without the oranges.

It started to rain heavily, and I turned up the heating and put the wipers on full speed. We drove past the spot I usually stopped to walk Dog and he sat in the passenger seat and stared at me hard, and every time I turned to look at him he put his ears up, like we were mid-conversation and I was avoiding his look. "So what?" I said. "You're a dog." And then he turned around and looked out the window.

* * *

Midway home it caught up with me and I pulled over into the entrance to an empty field. Dog gazed stoically out the window, still and calm, and I pressed my thumb into the bridge of my nose to try and take away the prickling, clung on to the skin of my chest with the nails of my other hand to melt away that old thudding ache that came with losing a sheep, a bead of blood landing in an open eye. I cried drily, honking and with my mouth open, rocking the truck and feeling something grappling around inside me getting no closer to coming out. Have a good cry; it was the kind of thing Mum'd say to a triplet in the hope a visit to the hospital wasn't necessary. Like the time Cleve fell out of a tree and cried it out, and we found out later he had a broken arm. But there was nothing good in my crying—it prevented me from breathing, it hurt. I stopped once my nose began to bleed, cleaned it up with the shammy I used on the days the windows were iced on the inside and drove home, calmly. On the Military Road near to the turning home, some teenagers fondled about at the bus stop. When they saw me coming one of the boys pretended to put something in his mouth, another mounted him from behind and humped him while he mimed throwing a lasso. The girls laughed and gave me the finger. As I rounded the corner the boy with the lasso dropped his trousers and showed his white arse.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from All the birds, Singing by Evie Wyld. Copyright © 2014 Evie Wyld. Excerpted by permission of Random House LLC, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Trade Reviews

Booklist Reviews

Jake Whyte, the female protagonist in Wyld's riveting second novel (following After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, 2009), lives alone on a bleak island off the British coast. A sheep farmer, Jake finds that her primary companion is her dog, named simply Dog. Trouble arises when someone, or something, begins killing Jake's sheep one by one. At first, Jake suspects local teenagers or a wild animal, but it quickly becomes clear that the entity, real or imagined, is far more mysterious. Jake's vivid tale unfolds in a double narrative. As events in her life on the island move forward chronologically, episodes from her prior life are revealed in reverse, incrementally uncovering the menacing details of her past. These include the time she spent working as a shearer at a sheep station in western Australia, a harrowing turn as a prostitute, and the traumatic events that lie at the root of Jake's perpetual transience and isolation. Jake is both haunted by the past and struggling with the present, and the intensity of Wyld's sharp novel grows as the two threaten to collide. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Library Journal Reviews

One of Granta's Best Young British Novelists, Wyld earned both John Llewellyn Rhys and the Betty Trask nods for the haunting page-turner After the Fire, a Still Small Voice. A woman living on a craggy speck of a British island suddenly finds her sheep are vanishing one by one. Is the culprit man or beast?

[Page 67]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Library Journal Reviews

Wyld (After the Fire, a Still Small Voice) has masterfully created a novel with an unusual structure that nevertheless feels natural, a dark, eerie undertone that delivers gripping suspense, and subject matter that can get grim and even hard to read yet never makes the story feel depressing. The heroine is Jake, who in the present-day arc of the novel has removed herself to a remote British island, where she tends to a flock of sheep in self-imposed isolation save for the company of a dog named Dog. The novel also has a past arc, that moves backward, building toward a climactic conclusion. From her youth in Australia, Jake carries emotional and physical pain, as evidenced by the scars that cover her back, and that hurt lurks like an evil presence, a force that stalks her even in her remote island refuge. VERDICT The intermingling of past and present story lines takes some acclimation, but trust Wyld, she will quickly draw you in; a true pleasure to read. [See Prepub Alert, 10/14/13.]—Shaunna E. Hunter, Hampden-Sydney Coll. Lib., VA

[Page 116]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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