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All the Birds, Singing by [Wyld, Evie]
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All the Birds, Singing Kindle Edition

3.5 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Length: 240 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Description

Winner of the 2014 Miles Franklin Award

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 - 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.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 804 KB
  • Print Length: 240 pages
  • Publisher: RHA eBooks Adult (1 July 2013)
  • Sold by: Random House Australia
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BVR9VZQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #39,820 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Greggorio! TOP 10 REVIEWER on 2 July 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The winner of the 2014 Miles Franklin Award is an epic snapshot of twentieth century civilisation, and is certainly a unique reading experience. The story focuses on single farmerette Ms Jake Whyte in her struggle for acceptance in the rugged outback of Australia, as well as rural England. She finds herself lost at sea in the ocean of sexual harassment and soul destroying loneliness. She has a boyfriend - fellow farm hand Greg - but whilst the two are active lovers, one feels that they could be closer on several levels than they are in the book's early stages.

Jake also struggles nightly with unwanted visitors. The reader as well as the book's main character is unsure of what form they take. Is he/ she human? Is it paranormal? That sounds ludicrous in its own right of course, but the world class story telling abilities of the author are on show here and her talents are obvious right from the beginning, so whilst such a supposed feature of the plot may well sound out of place, in the world that exists inside the book's covers, she makes everything totally believable.

And that includes the characters, both good and bad. We find ourselves attached to Farmerette Whyte, and her friends and allies by the end of chapter one. And so, too, will the reader develop strong emotions for the first bad character we come across. He is truly despicable, and in the book's first emotional highlight, he gets exactly what he deserves from our heroine and more besides, a few short chapters later.

The book is not overly long, with a print length of just 203 pages.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Jake Whyte is a sheep farmer on a remote unnamed British island. All The Birds, Singing, this year's Miles Franklin award winner, opens with the discovery of a dead sheep. Something, or someone, is picking them off one by one and she doesn't think its a fox. Jake is a solitary character, avoiding everyone who lives in the local town, apart from Don, a farmer who sold her the property. Lloyd, a mysterious stranger comes to her farm and gradually Jake allows him to break down her self-imposed isolation.

But Jake has a backstory, far away in Australia, where she worked as a shearer, which is revealed in flashbacks told out of order. Jake is part of a shearing gang moving from one place to another and it becomes apparent that she's on the run from someone. Its also obvious early in the story that she's suffered a serious trauma and has left her family behind to work as a prostitute. The flashbacks slowly piece together her past, leaving the reader guessing as to what is the event that has inflicted so much suffering on her. It's only revealed in the climax, which is heart-wrenching.

This is a very cleverly constructed narrative that left me guessing all the way as to what had happened to Jake. The writing itself is plain but beautifully evokes both the rainy English countryside and the dry harshness of the Australian outback. Wyld also has a great ear for the Australian vernacular and the story reads as though she actually did work as a shearer, so accurate are her descriptions of how that incredibly skilled job works.

But the tight control over the characters and story left me feeling a bit dissatisfied. The present story in England didn't generate the same sense of suspense as the backstory, which made me eager to read the latter and skip quickly over the former.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The novel opens with Jake Whyte living alone with her sheep on an unnamed isolated island off the British coast. She has isolated herself from her past in Australia, and as the story unfolds we get some understanding of what, and why. Jake’s present life, on the island, unfolds as a straightforward narrative and is interspersed with scenes from her life in Australia, which proceed from nearest to the present to distant past.

In the present, Jake is trying to protect her sheep. She and her dog, Dog, had fifty sheep but something (or someone) is killing some of them. Jake doesn’t know whether it is the local kids, or a fox or some other creature from the woods. A man named Lloyd turns up on her doorstep, and despite thinking he may have something to do with the slaughter of her sheep, Jake lets him stay. Lloyd has his own mysteries.

‘If you have wheels, I realise, you are free.’

We meet Jake in Australia working as a shearer in the outback where the men around her consider her ‘a bloody good bloke’. Jake has a boyfriend, and for a while things seem okay. But Jake’s past intrudes, and she moves on. The reader has to be patient: we only know what Jake shares with us, and while the story is largely black and bleak, I’m not convinced it is complete. It’s hard to read but so well written I found it impossible to put down.

‘We’re not dependent on this. It’s a life choice.’

I found this novel challenging to read, both because of its content and its presentation. I found I had to really concentrate in order to make sense of Jake’s earlier life, to try to appreciate how she became who she is. I finished the book wondering how Jake’s life could have been different (and wishing it was) as well as wondering about her future.
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