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The Bass Rock

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  3,394 ratings  ·  565 reviews
The lives of three women weave together across centuries in the dazzling new book from the Granta Best of Young British Novelist and author of All the Birds, Singing

Surging out of the sea, the Bass Rock has always borne witness to the lives that pass under its shadow on the Scottish mainland. And across the centuries, the fates of three women a
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published September 1st 2020 by Pantheon Books (first published February 4th 2020)
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Angela Vaux I'm sure you have found out by now but just in case... it mentions early in the book that she was found dead in the woods with a cigarette between her…moreI'm sure you have found out by now but just in case... it mentions early in the book that she was found dead in the woods with a cigarette between her fingers and an empty bottle of gin beside her.
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Average rating 3.79  · 
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Evie Wyld's writes a ambitious haunting gothic novel set amidst the Scottish North Berwick coast, with its eerie wildness and the formidable presence of the Bass Rock, bearing witness through the ages of endemic misogyny and toxic masculinity, over which society operates a collective amnesia right up to our contemporary times. Running through the veins of this unsettling and disturbing novel is the barely suppressed rage of what has been done to women through history, the silencing of their voic ...more
Adina (taking a break from literary fiction)
I do not really know how to rate and review this novel. It is marketed as a gothic novel and in my opinion it fails to be one. On the other hand, it succeeds to be a good chronic of violence against women through history and of how badly they were treated if they dared to fight back.

The Author presents the story of three women, Sarah, Ruth and Viviane. In 1700’s, Sarah is accused of witchcraft and has to flea together with a family that helps her. The 2nd narratives takes place after 2nd WW2 wh
Amalia Gkavea
''The crow takes off and flies to the top branches of the monkey puzzle tree. It yells at me from there.''

Three women, three different eras. Sarah, Ruth, Viviane. Witchcraft, abusing relationships, loss, depressions, danger in every corner. Shadows and omens. And the wild beauty of the Bass Rock witnessing everything. The relationships between women and men, the cruelty against the former, the violence of the later, the betrayal, the naivety.

But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't bring m
Kylie D
The Bass Rock is an account of the lives of three women, separated by time, whose lives revolve around a small town in Scotland. The three timelines are woven around them, detailing their lives, but I found that they jumped about a bit too much and was sometimes confused as to where I was up to. The consequence of this was that I didn't feel a connection with any of the women, and I didn't receive a great deal of satisfaction from it. It's not a bad book by any means, just not my cup of tea.

My t
Violet wells
For me this novel was clumsy, overly contrived and consistently mistakes melodrama for dramatic tension. I couldn't help recalling Virginia Woolf's observations about Jane Eyre, how Charlotte's (feminist) anger had disrupted the artistic integrity of her writing at times. I think you can times that by ten here. Wyld seems a writer with the equivalent of road rage, so angry that it's often as if she's cataloguing masculine crimes rather than dramatizing them.

The Bass Rock is about male violence
Nov 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley-books
The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld takes place over several hundred years. This is the story of three women: Sarah, Ruth and Vivianne. Young Sarah is being persecuted by men who suspect her of being a witch. Many years later, after the end of WWII, Ruth is newly married to a widower, has become the stepmother of two young boys and has relocated with her new family to an unfamiliar part of Great Britain. Sixty years later, upon Ruth’s death, Vivianne has been tasked with sorting through her house in orde ...more
Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
Now winner of the 2021 Stella Prize


This book must be one of the most anticipated of 2020, written seven years after the author’s second novel, which like her first was a prize winner (in this case the Miles Franklin award) and received a number of prize short and longlistings.

Originally scheduled to be published in 2016 it was described on its acquisition by Jonathan Cape (Bookseller 21st June 2016) as telling the stories
Aug 29, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5000-2020
By the time I reached the end of this book I felt I deserved a medal. The author could not have made it more difficult to read if she had tried.

Three separate timelines, too many characters and constant jumping backwards and forwards meant I was constantly having to remind myself who was who and where we were. It also never gave any individual character chance to become well rounded enough to matter, although since most of them were distinctly unpleasant I guess that did not matter.

The unpleasa
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“There is such stillness in that small wood where my grandmother died that it catches my breath, I feel I am looking up into space or into a deep high-ceilinged crevasse. ‘Hello!’ I call, just to hear if my voice echoes back. It does, three times.”

The Bass Rock is the third novel by award-winning British-Australian author, Evie Wyld. In post-war Britain, newly-married Ruth Hamilton finds herself in an oversized house in a village in North Berwick, Scotland. She tries, when they are home from boa
While it ranges across the centuries, the novel always sticks close to the title location. Just as the louring rock is inescapable in the distance if you look out from the Edinburgh hills, there’s no avoiding violence for the women and children of the novel. It’s a sobering theme, certainly, but Wyld convinced me that hers is an accurate vision and a necessary mission. The novel cycles through its three strands in an ebb and flow pattern that seems appropriate to the coastal setting and creates ...more
Bass Rock off the North Berwick coast, stands dark and brooding through the ages, looming over the humans nearby who live their lives, loving and hurting each other before passing on.

This novel tells of the lives of three women and their treatment by society and particularly by men. In the 1700s there is Sarah, a teenage girl accused of being a witch and therefore blamed for all the misfortunes of the village. After being raped and abused she must then flee from her home to escape being burnt at
This novel reads at times like The Girl on the Train meets Rebecca. ...more

This is paced over three time lines and can become a little confusing. I really had to sit quietly with this book to be in tune with it all.

Although it’s called The Bass Rick it’s nothing about a rock, it’s around the area of Scotland.

It has a gothic feel to it because of the first story about Sarah in the 1700’s being accused of being a witch.

You later realise it’s also based around a house.

It’s very cleverly done with eerie feels if wonderment.

In the beginning though you really need a quiet
(3.5) The Bass Rock is a small island off the east coast of Scotland, uninhabited but for a large colony of gannets; the three intertwined stories in this book are not about the rock but rather take place in its shadow. In the 17th century, a small group leave their community in order to protect a girl accused of witchcraft. In the 1940s/50s, Ruth struggles to adjust to life as a housewife and stepmother. 60 years later, Ruth's granddaughter Viviane volunteers to clear out her house, which is no ...more
Kali Napier
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aww2020
In many ways this book should not have ticked all the five-star boxes for me -- it is a multi-period novel where I was much less invested in one strand, eager to get back to the other two.
Yet every page belongs.
Even the pages that weren't part of Stories I, II, II. They were almost more powerful in their non-identification, their ghostly vagueness. They are stories embedded in the places the characters in Stories I, II, III tread. Where we all tread. The reason I give this 5-stars is because i
Jennifer (JC-S)
‘In the memory, which is a child’s memory and unreliable, the eye blinks.’

This novel is set in North Berwick, a small town on Scotland’s Firth of Forth, south-west of the Bass Rock. This is a coast with history, with both beauty and violence. A perfect setting for Ms Wyld’s novel.

The novel opens with a small girl finding the body of a woman in a suitcase on the beach. Her mother tells her to come away, but the girl has already seen inside the suitcase. The girl we meet as a woman, Viv, will tell
Olivia (Stories For Coffee)
The Bass Rock is such a harrowing yet beautifully composed novel following the lives of three women and how the historic violence against women courses through their worlds. It's heartbreakingly relatable and shined a mirror to my own experiences while also highlighting other mistreatments that women face on a daily basis from loved ones and complete strangers. This was a wonderous character study of three women from very different walks of life whose worlds are interconnected through the darkne ...more
Evie Wyld’s The Bass Rock is a powerful indictment of male violence against women, a denouncement of misogyny and male toxicity in all its forms, whether it is the “everyday sexism” women have to put up with on a daily basis or, in its most extreme incarnation, rape and femicide.

The novel’s message is conveyed through three interlocking narratives. In the early 18th Century, Alice, a young woman suspected of being a witch, is on the run from the men who want to kill her. In the years after the S
Claire Fuller
Wonderfully subtle and magnificently savage. The Bass Rock follows the stories of three woman on the North Berwick coast: Sarah who in the eighteenth century has been pronounced a witch and is running away; Ruth, grieving for her brother dead in the war, and struggling to make a new life for herself, with a new husband, step sons, and the presence of a ghostly girl in her house; and Viviane, who in the present day has come to the house to clear it of her dead grandmother's belongings. The novel ...more
Michael Livingston
A powerfully bleak book about men's violence against women. Wyld flits across three time frames, with strong links between the most recent two - it took me a while to join all the dots, but everything clicked in the end. It's a really grim book - there's barely a hint of hope or happiness amidst a steady stream of male brutality that ripples across generations.
Gloria Arthur
The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld

With elements of darkness, violence & madness, this is a disturbing and captivating tale. It’s a story of the lives of three different women, across centuries and set against the backdrop of the haunting Bass Rock.

Ruth is newly married and has moved to a large house near the sea in a village at North Berwick, Scotland to take care of her husband’s two sons. Her husband is frequently absent and she feels like a replacement wife as he was recently left a widow. Ruth feels
Amanda - Mrs B's Book Reviews

‘She did not much like the rock; Fidra and Craigleith she saw as charming additions punctuation in the grey North Sea, but something about Bass Rock was so misshapen.’

The release of Miles Franklin award winning author Evie Wyld’s latest novel has been described by her publisher Penguin Books Australia as ‘a major publishing event’. This statement definitely caught my eye. The Bass Rock is an intricate tapestry of three powerful stories, all defined by the pe
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This might be the new Ghost Wall?! I know. I KNOW.

Of all the books for which I’m sad because the pandemic will fuck up their first-week sales, The Bass Rock may be the one for which I’m the saddest. Evie Wyld is a great writer—her last book, All the Birds Singing, was subtle and scary about female vulnerability without sacrificing characterization or style to a political end, and The Bass Rock does the same thing. It has three narrators in three different time frames, but all in the same p
Renee Godding
Oh dear, unpopular opinion incoming...
I was so ready to love The Bass Rock but it just left me completely cold. Although Evie Wyld is undoubtably an incredibly talented author, the characters, the jumpy narrative and the heavy handed themes just didn’t do it for me. Despite the strong and almost oppressive atmosphere (which is a compliment to the author for conveying this so well) I didn’t find myself caring about the characters at all and reading about them became a chore.
More in-depth thought
Dominique Wilson
Dec 04, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A disappointing book. There is no doubt that Wyld can write beautiful descriptive sentences. However, whilst I normally enjoy stories that fluctuate between different timelines or different points of view, I found the constant back and forth between the timelines of this novel at first confusing, then tedious and irritating. As a result, I did not connect with any of the characters except Betty, and could not remember from one day to the next what I had read previously. A self-consciously clever ...more
lucky little cat
Much buzzed about, and worth reading. Smart and engrossing multi-century narrative of the many women groomed, wooed, brutalized, discarded, locked away, murdered, and occasionally rescued* on one Scottish shoreline estate.

Wyld's women try to save themselves by being canny or caring, hiding in the wardrobe, taking the high road, carrying lucky hare's teeth, or just plain old staying sozzled all day long. Sisters, brothers, a stepmother, a housemaid, and one very mystical itinerant (view spoiler)
Cheshta Choudhury (bookbeliever)
The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld is a book that made my blood boil and left a bitter after-taste. No, I didn't dislike it, on the contrary, I liked it a lot. What I didn't like though, is the fact that I could relate to so many women in this novel where all they got was pain, wounds, trauma, and disrespect. This is a book that will make you question the condition of women in this era.

The book tells the stories of 3 women, all situated in the North Berwick region of Scotland but dispersed across time.
Disappointing stuff. I feel like the story had so much potential from the blurb - the story of three women linked across hundreds of years by a remote Scottish island- and the comments in early reviews about the male violence against women was something that I found intriguing, but the pacing was off (painfully slow, even) and because of combination of shortish chapters and split timelines I felt like none of the characters were memorable or had any depth because we spent so little time with the ...more
Connie G
The North Berwick coast of Scotland, with its view of the Bass Rock, is the setting for the three timelines showing men physically and emotionally abusing women. In addition to the three main stories the book also tells about boys being abused in boarding school, and has snapshots of anonymous women falling victim to misogynistic violence. Men blamed women for their male anger and lack of control. Others labeled women as witches or regarded them as possessions. The book was relentless in its dep ...more
Anna Baillie-Karas
I loved this. A gripping story of 3 interesting women in the 18th century, 1950s & today. Brooding setting in coastal Scotland, large gothic house & possible ghosts but Wyld grounds the story in everyday life, with strong writing, dark humour & real, unvarnished characters. Controlled tension develops into a theme of domestic violence. Wyld perfectly captures its nuances & insidiousness in just a few scenes. Powerful, it will stay with me.
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