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All the Birds, Singing

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  12,295 ratings  ·  1,986 reviews
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 disob
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published April 15th 2014 by Pantheon (first published June 20th 2013)
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Average rating 3.62  · 
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 ·  12,295 ratings  ·  1,986 reviews

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Nov 23, 2013 rated it really liked it

jake whyte is an australian who has emigrated to a remote island off the coast of england to live alone on an isolated sheep farm, with only a dog for company. jake whyte has nothing in common with this similarly-named individual

because she could probably snap him in half over one of her muscular thighs.

jake is a tall, big, strong woman with a troubled past, a deeply scarred back, and very good reasons for staying hidden. her only human contact is with don, the man from
Apr 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owned
If you mix The Village and Memento with some of the most beautiful writing I've read in a long time, you have this book. A mesmerizing, expertly-crafted story that does everything right. Wyld takes a stale story structure--alternating chapters telling two stories--and turns it on its head. It's inventive and engrossing and absolutely wonderful. This is one of those 'why didn't I read that sooner?!' books. Highly recommend anyone who enjoys good literary fiction, and even mystery/suspense. An eas ...more
Violet wells
Really surprised by what a compelling page turner this novel is. I enjoyed a lot of the writing in Wyld’s first novel After the Fire, a Still Small Voice but structurally never quite found it cohesive. It was perhaps one of those examples of a young writer overreaching herself, trying too hard to be literary. The structure of All the Birds, Singing, on the other hand, is inspired and ensures Wyld can exact every accelerated heartbeat of tension out of her story.

The novel juxtaposes two timeline
Aug 21, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
More like a cacophony than birds singing
Disjointed storyline that jars.

I like a broken timeline, putting the past in perspective with the present, but with this novel it was like jagged edges. It was almost as if the author had written a linear narrative but taken to the manuscript with scissors and reconstructed the fragments. Rather than a slow suspense-building reveal, with the sins and horrors of the past coming to torment the present, it skated around shards of story poking through the fabr
Feb 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2014
Thanks to Goodreads and Knopf Books for the advance copy.

All the Birds, Singing is a mythical masterpiece. Thick with brooding imagery, this novel reminds me of Cormac McCarthy's prose.

I was hooked from the very first sentence:

“Another sheep, mangled and bled out, her innards not yet crusting and the vapours rising from her like a steamed pudding.”

Evie Wyld, one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists, tells the story of Jake Whyte, a young woman on the run from her past. Believing she’s esc
Ayelet Waldman
This book is almost fantastic. It builds beautifully, but what it builds to ultimately disappointed me.
Bleak, unsettling, strange and wild: All the Birds, Singing is a weird and wonderful novel. The ambiguously-named Jake Whyte - actually a young woman, despite her name and profession - is a sheep farmer who lives alone on an isolated, windswept English island. When the story opens, she is standing over the body of a sheep that seems to have been ravaged by some predator: perhaps the work of local kids with nothing to do, or maybe something more sinister. Half the book deals with Jake's deliberat ...more
So, here's the thing. This book is graphic. Horrifying depictions of animal death abound. And I'm a huge animal lover, so the way I get through reading that kind of stuff is to desensitize - I'm able to sort of turn the emotional side off long enough to read about graphic descriptions of sheep in agonizing pain. The problem is, doing that sort of deadens my emotional reaction to the rest of the book, too. I felt like I wasn't able to engage with this novel the way I was supposed to - what was pr ...more
Apr 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Laura by: Maria
*While I tried to avoid any major spoilers (which was not easy, by the way) there are a few plot points mentioned which could probably be called minor spoilers., because I have a LOT of thoughts to get out about this novel. Seriously, I don't think I can sleep until I do.

First, I have to comment on the cover of my edition, because it's perfect and brilliant. This is a book with teeth alright, sharp fangs that latch onto the reader and draw blood, because this is a novel that's intense, painful,
[3.5] I wonder what people who read more thrillers will make of All the Birds, Singing. You may not have expected this to be a psychological thriller set on farms, what with the author being one of the Granta Best Young British Novelists, who looks very cool and works in a London bookshop, and the book's pretty cover with twee wonky lettering. (A case of coverflip? It's not something I see a lot of in my reading but this seems like one, and it suits the protagonist very poorly. The Australian co ...more
Dec 25, 2014 rated it really liked it
Engrossing, lots of physicality to the prose. Wanted more from the ending but this is damn fine novel.
Jul 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2016
Birds. I hate birds. Birds in Australia can be menacing and hostile. They’re loud. Here, they are omnipresent. Watch for them in this story. They are there when something happens. Are the birds a god of some kind? Or are they warning of something threatening?

This is atmospheric and beautifully written. The mysterious tone builds and builds and is sustained throughout the novel. We watch traumas and fears manifest into something real by our damaged and unreliable narrator.

I kept asking myself:
Feb 28, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: public-library
This is a rather dark, unsettling story about a young woman who is raising sheep on a remote British isle with a dog as her companion. Her name is Jake Whyte and she lives in a state of fear and suspicion. She has her reasons. Do they have anything to do with the hideous scars on her back?
Nov 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
How does one make their choices in life? Are there those that feel as if they’re made for us? For Jake, a strong woman, to choose to live her life on an isolated sheep farm is to try and stay at a distance from her past. She is alone with Dog her animal companion. Her fear creates an inability to imagine, let alone participate, in the human interactions that surround her. Going to the pub to familiarize herself with the neighboring farmers carries far to great the risk of more humiliation and pa ...more
Aug 13, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: general-fiction
The best thing about this book was that it was short. The story started in the middle then sometimes went forward in the present, and then at other times it went backwards in the past. It was too disjointed and utterly confusing to let me get really invested in the story.

There moments where I was worried by the sanity (and as a result her reliability) of Jake, and I was also uncertain if the book was a mystery, fantasy or horror - it sort of touched on all of these but the book didn't seem to k
Jülie ☼♄ 

This is a powerful and affecting story about a very damaged soul, haunted by a tragic, inadequate past.
It is a journey through the nightmare that was to become Jake Whyte's life as she ran from the relentless pursuit of her past, finally seeking refuge in the safe isolation and seclusion of her own sheep farm, far, far away from her haunting past...or is it?

It seems that some lives are just destined to follow a relentlessly tragic path, and Jake's life appears to be traversing that very course,
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lyn Elliott
What ever were the judges thinking when they gave All the Birds Singing the Miles Franklin Award. Perhaps the novelty of an English writer using an Australian character as a centre piece won their attention. The Australianness is indicated at the start by throwing out a string of Australian words, like the birds currawong and white galah. White galah? There is no such thing. Galahs are pink and grey. We have a couple of white cockatoos but no white galahs.

Some books grab you in from the first fe
lucky little cat
Feb 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: aussiephiles and lit fic readers
Recommended to lucky little cat by:
Winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Prize, 2014
Holds up well to a second reading, too! Remarkable brief novel about a tough-as-nails Australian émigré with a past. Chapters seamlessly alternate between the present (what

There's no substitute for a really good sheepdog.

is savaging her sheep on her isolated English farm?) and the past (how did she get to be so bitter and aloof?) Wyld simultaneously moves us forward and backward in time, and it works. Suspense and dread build steadily in both narratives, as does the possibility of grac
I was zipping along with this book, tension building, mysteries abounding and then suddenly! I got caught up on Lloyd.
I know why he was there but I don't think I ever understood why he stayed and that kept buzzing around in the back of my mind. Why is he still there? Why?

I liked that Jake's present and past were intermixed but as a listener, I was confused by this because it took awhile to figure out which span of time I was in when they changed, as there were no immediate cues.

The reader was re
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing

When I finished reading Evie Wyld's first novel, After the Fall, a Still Small Voice, I knew I would be reading every other novel she would write. Some readers like to go to the peaks of forbidding mountains, some to dense jungles or the bottom of the sea. I like the fierce environments of Australia.

All the Birds, Singing takes place both in Australia and on the West coast of England. Lots of sheep, raising and shearing of; plenty of people who are more feral than the animals. Jake Whyte is a wo
The writing is certainly lyrical and atmospheric, but I had no real fondness for this book. I did admire Wyld’s successful interweaving of her two narratives: Jake Whyte’s lonely present life as a shepherdess battling unseen forces on an English island, and the retreating story of her sheep-shearing career in Australia, eventually giving the reasons why she’s been on the run more than once. I also enjoyed the parallels between her two lives, such as living with one strange man and a dubious dog. ...more
Aug 25, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook

I decided to listen to the audiobook version of this novel after Evie Wyld was awarded the 2014 Miles Franklin Award, largely because before the announcement I'd heard of neither the author nor her work.

Evie Wyld is a young English-Australian writer and this is her second novel. It's part thriller, part psychological portrait and totally focussed on the central character, Jake Whyte, a reclusive Australian woman who raises sheep on an unnamed island off the west coast of England. Jake is haunte
BAM Endlessly Booked
Dec 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, traded
Very well-crafted novel, but I'm not enjoying it. The author has a tight grasp on her timelines, flipping not only between past and present, but also spooling her past line feeding off one element to spark the next chapter. It's just an unpleasant plot. I felt dirty and poor reading this, which I admit means effective voice. Then it suddenly becomes a YA book. So my rating is simply from my enjoyment level, not from the craftsmanship. ...more
Jake Whyte lived alone with her only companions being Dog and her sheep. She was happy that way, with a tragic past she badly wanted to forget, and she had no desire to be around people. Don, the neighbour she bought her farmhouse from, was the only person she spoke to from one day to the next, and she even had trouble talking to him.

But she kept losing sheep to something, she was sure it wasn’t the local kids, and the damage done was too bad for the foxes. It seemed something evil, something sh
Diane S ☔
Apr 10, 2014 rated it liked it
3.5 A novel that takes place on two continents, Australia where Jake originated from, and England where she ends up as a sheep rancher. Their is a pervasive sense of foreboding, tension and fear, from her past, where did she get those horrible scars on her back, and her present, where something is killing her sheep. It begins in the present and than in alternate chapter, her near past. It isn't until the ending that some of our questions are answered.

In the present Jake is a reticent women, does
The down side to reading literary fiction is that I almost always finish the book wondering what the heck the ending is supposed to mean. It's like there's an unwritten rule that, in order for a book to be considered literary fiction, it must have as confusing an ending as possible. It must contain no trace of a conclusion, and must be fraught with symbolism that only the cleverest of readers will understand, after a lengthy consideration.

So basically, the ending sucked.

Otherwise, I kind of enjo
Jessica Sullivan
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
This is one of those books where the pacing and atmosphere get full credit for the constant feeling of tension and foreboding.

Jake Whyte lives and works on a sheep farm on a remote British island. Independent and self-sufficient, she mostly keeps to herself, harboring a secretive past. When her sheep begin getting killed in gruesome ways, Jake becomes paranoid that it's more than just the local foxes. Is it local kids? Someone from Jake's past who has come to find her? Or could it be a mysteriou
Apr 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jake Whyte, the main character in this novel is running from her past. Clearly, something unspeakable has happened to her to make her leave her family home and run away first to Darwin and then after getting into a dangerous situation there run further south to Post Hedland to work as a roustabout and shearer and finally to flee to a small island off the west coast of England to become a sheep farmer with only a dog for company.

All this becomes quite evident early in the book as the author weave
Aug 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
All The Birds, Singing is the second novel by British-Australian author, Evie Wyld, and winner of the 2014 Miles Franklin Literary Award. The first narrative starts with Jake Whyte, currently living on an unnamed British island, finding a second of her sheep dead and mutilated, and wondering whether foxes, some other wildlife or the local teens are to blame. Jake’s isolated existence, with only her dog, Dog, and her herd of sheep for company, puzzles the locals.

The second narrative starts some
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