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The Cunning Woman's Cup

4.48  ·  Rating details ·  60 ratings  ·  16 reviews
When Alice McCleish's gardener Brian unearths an object of great archaeological significance deep under the compost heap it is not only Alice and her burgeoning friendship with Margaret Allerton, retired Professor of Anthropology, that are affected: the family, friends and neighbours of Alice, who people the narrative, are also touched by subsequent events. Alice and Marga ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published March 7th 2014 by Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
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Average rating 4.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  60 ratings  ·  16 reviews


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Cathy Ryan
Sep 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The book opens with a haunting flashback to a period in pre Romanic Britain where we meet Mordwand of the Brigantes (the cunning woman), who survived being aborted and was raised by a wolfhound. After the hound died Mordwand became ‘the eyes and ears’ of the healer who aborted her, and learned what she could from the old woman until old age took her as well, and Mordwand found herself alone once more. Short, intriguing and sometimes distressing passages from her life begin each chapter and I lov ...more
E.L. Lindley
Jun 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Cunning Woman’s Cup is such a rich and layered read, I hardly know where to start. In any other hands, the complex structure and stories within stories might have lacked cohesion but Sue Hewitt asserts herself from the onset as a writer who is in complete control of her craft. I was in her thrall from the very first page.

The story, on the surface, is a simple one – the tale of two elderly women, Alice and Margaret, who meet by chance and forge an enduring friendship. The story ripples out f
...more
Ken
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-books
4.5 stars

I’m not part of the target demographic for this book, due to my Y chromosome, but I enjoyed it immensely. Hewitt does a great job detailing the setting—the small, rural town of Duddo near the Scottish border in Northumberland. You can feel the chill of a foggy morning in your bones and the mud squelching under your boots after a long rain. The bonds of friendship between two women, as well as the site of their chance meeting, near an ancient stone circle, form the primary threads for th
...more
Jill's Book Cafe
4.5 stars

I seem to be increasingly drawn lately to books with older characters and this book was no exception, however dealing as it does with families, friendships and relationships it also has a much wider appeal than it might initially appear.

The main character is Alice, and the book traces the development of her friendship with Margaret, her fraught relationship with her daughter in law, her evolving relationship with her grandchildren and her involvement with her neighbour Violet and garde
...more
Michael Tweed
Sep 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A gem of a book. Loved it.
Iona Carroll
Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If any reader has visited the ancient standing stones of Duddo in Northumberland, they will quickly identify with this interesting debut novel by Sue Hewitt. There is a believable mix of characters, an unfolding mystery and local rural interest. All these elements provide intrigue from the first page. Sue Hewitt’s clever approach to her novel preludes each chapter with excellent descriptive prose reaching back in time to the stones –
I was Mordwand of the Brigantes. Called Dead and cast out when
...more
Rosie Amber
Jun 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Cunning Woman's Cup is a contemporary piece of fiction woven around ancient standing stones and family dramas. It is set in Duddo, Northumberland near the Scottish border.

There is an ancient stone circle at Duddo made of 5 megaliths. We are introduced to Mordwand of the Brigantes a healing woman burned at the stake. Her story threads throughout the book in a series of small flashbacks.

Alice McCleish lives with Nipper, her dog, close to the standing stones. The small community is close and su
...more
Whispering Stories
Aug 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Alice McCleish has lived in the Northumberland countryside all of her live. She lives in Duddo, a small remote village with her house overlooking an ancient stone circle. Now alone, after the death of her beloved husband Callum, Alice only has her dog Nipper, the Border Terrier, for company.

It is whilst out walking Nipper that Alice crosses paths with retired professor Margaret Allerton. Margaret is trying to locate the nearest village for a cup of tea, but with the nearest place being miles awa
...more
Babus Ahmed
Dec 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
This contemporary fiction delves into history to tell us about an ancient cunning woman and her plight at the times of the Romans. Her story is progressed at the start of each chapter telling us about Alice and her family. Alice has lived in rural Northumberland all her life and the object linking the past and present in this novel is a cup that is unearthed in her garden by her gardener, Brian. The countryside plays a prominent and positive role throughout this mystery and family drama.

I found
...more
Tara
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was such a touching story. I loved the perspective of all the older women and how they interact. I did think it would have more about the ancient cunning woman than it did. It was only one small paragraph at the beginning of each chapter. I also don't like that very British habit of pairing everyone off at the end of a book. The other very British habit of not being able to recall anything pre Romans..... But other than those two minor flaws that no one else but myself would even care about ...more
Gretchen
Dec 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this book which I swapped at a hostel in Ecuador. Rich relationships develop. Great setting in Scotland around ancient stones. Would read anything this author wrote though it’s not my typical genre.
Clemency
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazon tells me that I downloaded this Kindle Unlimited book on the 7th March this year. I started reading the book on the 1st September. This happens frequently!

For whatever reason, I left it half a year before I read this book. Of course, most people wouldn't remember the blurb so I had no idea what the book was about and I fumbled my way through the early pages, wondering what the plot was. If I had remembered the blurb, I would have known where the story was leading.

But the blurb wouldn't re
...more
Elizabeth Lloyd
Aug 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In The Cunning Woman's Cup, echoes from long ago reverberate in the lives of a small community in Northumberland. The tragic life of Mordwand of the Brigantes is briefly told in episodes at the beginning of each chapter. Events from her life impinge into the modern day lives of the other characters in the narrative and help to clarify the spiritual dimension which they experience.

Alice McCleish is a widow, sharing her cottage with her dog Nipper near to the farm of Wyllie and Violet Turnbull, wh
...more
Rhoda D'Ettore
Apr 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Rhoda D'Ettore Reviews: I was given this book in exchange for a fair and honest review


This is an interesting tale of a valuable discovery in a woman's garden, the interactions of neighbors, and a tale of the past that eventually becomes woven into the present.

The characters are fleshed out well, with lines such as "Hand me my teeth". In one scene, a strange woman walks by a rural area and the characters ponder if she's a salesperson or a Jehovah's Witness. Some of the dialogue in this scene made
...more
Matthew Harffy
Jun 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I bought 'The Cunning Woman's Cup' some time ago when I realised it was set on the border of Scotland, in the tiny village of Duddo in Northumberland. The standing stones on the cover are ancient and are mentioned briefly in my own writing about the area, and I used to live near there too, so I was intrigued by the setting.

At first I thought the novel would be historical fiction about a cunning woman (or witch) from long ago, and there are elements of this in the book. But the main story is set
...more
Joyce Barrass
Wonderfully written, tenderly observed. Absolutely loved this story from the first page to the last! Every character is deftly and subtly drawn and the descriptions of the stunning Northumbrian landscape, flora, wildlife, history and atmosphere haunt the imagination. Liminal spaces and "thin places" are brought to life with an exquisitely sensitive touch. Equally engaging is the author's ear for the mundane comical cut and thrust of everyday dialogue: "please stop fussing and pass me my teeth,’ ...more
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