All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld
Winner of the 2014 Miles Franklin Literary Award, this book is still haunting me days after I snapped it shut and headed for the largest glass I could find to pour some plonk into. I was stirred and shaken. If you can read this book and not feel nausea rise from time to time, well hats off to you my friend. I am clearly not made of such stern stuff.
Is it worth reading – YES! But it should come with a warning. It’s tough going. The story line is heartbreaking and tragic and it is ridiculously difficult to put down.
Evie Wyld’s writing is wonderful. It is blunt, brutal and savagely evocative – yet all the while, her words are strung together on a gossamer-fine string of hope – which is why of course, you soldier on with it. Her style has echoes of Tim Winton, Charlotte Wood and Nikki Gemmell – all Australian writers I love and all authors who have penned stories, and created people, that I won’t ever forget.
This story is about Jake Whyte, an isolated, but determined woman who you follow through her time at sheep stations; to the home she grew up in Australia; to an unnamed island where she raises (more) sheep amid some very strange people and very dangerous animals. She is always running, always watchful and her past is ever-close and she wears its scars literally. You jump back and forth from location to location, always outrunning the story of how and why she came to be and when the unveiling occurs in the final chapters, well, that is just one of the times your tummy will turn and your breathing slows……
Albert Einstein said, We cannot despair of humanity, since we ourselves are human beings and I could not help but think of this line as Evie introduces us to some frighteningly, ugly souls. And we meet some folk too, who have simply made terrible mistakes and your heart rips for them with the turning of the pages and the telling of their tale.
So if you judge a book about how it makes you feel, well this one should go to top of your wish-list. It won’t make you feel fantastic, but it will take you places and make you feel things that thump at your heart and leave a scar on your mind.
You won’t forget Jake Whyte and her story in a hurry, that is for sure, so for that alone, bravo dear Evie. Bravo!
But that’s just my 2 cents worth.