Length: 240 pages
Publisher: Random House UK, Vintage Publishing
From the publisher:
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 sets off 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. But 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.
Here’s what I thought:
This book both was and wasn’t what I was expecting it to be. The story moves between the past and the present in the life of Jake, a mysterious and aloof young woman who raises sheep on an island. There is never any clear indication of the time and place is which a certain section of the book occurs, so I found myself often confused about when particular events happened and how the different sections related to one another.
Jake’s character is revealed through her interactions with other characters and her reactions to the events that take place. The ‘flashbacks’ to her past help the reader to understand how her current self, with all its peculiarities, developed through various difficult experiences she lives through while a teenager living in Australia. The defining moment of her life is only exposed at the end of the novel, and although tragic it wasn’t at all what I was expecting and thus its revealing felt very anticlimactic.
All the Birds, Singing is well-written and suspenseful, with an interesting main character, but I can’t say that I really enjoyed the book overall. I found it very hard to relate to Jake and was left with the impression that I was missing something–some underlying meaning to the events of the story–that would have tied things together in a more satisfying way.
Thanks so much to Random House UK, Vintage Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book.