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All the birds, singing / Evie Wyld.

By: Wyld, Eviem.
Material type: materialTypeLabelBookPublisher: North Sydney, N.S.W. : Vintage Books Australia, 2013Copyright date: ©2013Description: 229 pages ; 24 cm.Content type: text Media type: unmediated Carrier type: volumeISBN: 9781742757308.Subject(s): Australian fiction | Australians -- Great Britain -- Fiction | Farming -- FictionDDC classification: A823.4 Summary: Who or what is watching Jake Whyte from the woods? Jake Whyte is the sole resident of an old farmhouse on an unnamed island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. It's just her, her untamed companion, Dog, and a flock of sheep. Which is how she wanted it to be. But something is coming for the sheep u every few nights it picks one off, leaves it in rags. It could be anything. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumours of an obscure, formidable beast. And there is Jake's unknown past, perhaps breaking into the present, a story hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, in a landscape of different colour and sound, a story held in the scars that stripe her back. Set between Australia and a remote English island, All the Birds, Singing is the story of one how one woman's present comes from a terrible past. It is the second novel from the award-winning author of After the Fire, A Still Small Voice.
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Who or what is watching Jake Whyte from the woods? Jake Whyte is the sole resident of an old farmhouse on an unnamed island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. It's just her, her untamed companion, Dog, and a flock of sheep. Which is how she wanted it to be. But something is coming for the sheep u every few nights it picks one off, leaves it in rags. It could be anything. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumours of an obscure, formidable beast. And there is Jake's unknown past, perhaps breaking into the present, a story hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, in a landscape of different colour and sound, a story held in the scars that stripe her back. Set between Australia and a remote English island, All the Birds, Singing is the story of one how one woman's present comes from a terrible past. It is the second novel from the award-winning author of After the Fire, A Still Small Voice.

Excerpt provided by Syndetics

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. # Excerpted from All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

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

Publishers Weekly Review

In the searing second novel from Wyld (After the Fire, a Still Small Voice), the past takes real and imagined forms, all terrifying, in its protagonist's life. Jake Whyte, a young Englishwoman, is a sheep farmer on a desolate scrap of island very like the Isle of Wight, where the author, who was named one of the best young British novelists of 2013 by Granta, spent much of her childhood. In the present, something, or someone, is gruesomely killing Jake's sheep. Her traumatic past includes a stint as a prostitute and a relationship with the creepy Otto, who ostensibly "rescues" Jake from the streets, only to turn her into a sex slave of sorts. Jake's current fears include a man in a suit who shows up on her property, and a shadowy beast that she heard going berserk in her cottage one night. Wyld's writing is as muscular as Jake, who, when spooked, drops to the floor to do push-ups. But Jake is troubled as well as strong, running from the many tragedies in her past, including one experience that left a nasty scar on her back. It is a testament to Wyld's vivid storytelling that readers will feel determined to drag themselves through her tale's more unsavory moments to its final revelation. Agent: Laetitia Rutherford, Watson, Little Ltd. (U.K.) (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Booklist Review

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.--Strauss, Leah Copyright 2014 Booklist

Kirkus Book Review

The second novel from award-winning Australian author Wyld (After the Fire, A Still Small Voice, 2009) explores the checkered past of a self-reliant young woman, a sheep farmer. When we first meet Jake Whyte, she's tending her flock on an island off the coast of England. This is no Little Bo Peep: Jake is a tall, muscular Australian who can shear a fleece with the best of them. She's also a loner; after three years on the island, she has no friends. To understand her, we must delve into her Australian past, which Wyld alternates with her English present. In a further twist, Wyld uses reverse chronology for the Australian sections. In the Outback, Jake is the only female member of a team of shearers, contract workers moving between sheep farms. Wyld is at her best capturing their work rhythms and cheerful profanity. Jake has hooked up with Greg, a good guy, but is being blackmailed by another shearer who's found out Jake is on the run. That takes us back to her time with Otto, a sheep farmer who kept her as a sex slave. Did he also cause those wicked scars on her back? Jake had met Otto when she was a hooker and he had seemed the better proposition, but it was the wrong call. At last we reach the catastrophe that gave Jake those scars and forced the 15-year-old to leave home. The tricky narrative strategy has given Jake a past but not developed a full character. Jake has little interior, and that's true too of her English incarnation. Instead of insights, we get more mysteries. What strange beast lurking in the woods is savaging her sheep? And who is the disoriented trespasser she shelters? Wyld has ordained a permanently dark life for her protagonist, a stubborn fate that offsets the surprises and the reader's enjoyment.]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

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