The lives of three women weave together across four centuries in the dazzling new book from Evie Wyld, winner of the Miles Franklin Award.
Surging out of the sea, the Bass Rock has for centuries watched over the lives that pass under its shadow on the Scottish mainland. And across the centuries the fates of three women are linked: to this place, to each other.
In the aftermath of the Second World War, Ruth navigates a new house, a new husband and stepsons, and the strange waters of the local community. She misses her life in London and her brother who was killed in the war. Her husband’s first wife died and she’s finding it difficult to step into the large gaping hole she left behind. Her presence is there… or someone’s is.
Six decades later, in the present day, the house stands empty. Viv is mourning the death of her father. Her uncle has asked her to stay in her grandmother’s empty house, so it looks like someone is living there. While there, Viv catalogues Ruth’s belongings and discovers her place in the past – and perhaps a way forward. She too senses a presence in the house.
Centuries before, in the early 1700s, Sarah is accused of being a witch. Two men put themselves at risk to help her as she flees for her life.
This is an exquisitely written multigenerational story, with the lives of three women weaved across centuries. Wyld has created complex female characters, all who are trying to survive. Each woman’s choices are circumscribed, in ways big and small, by the men in their lives. But in sisterhood there is the hope of survival and new life. Intricately crafted and compulsively readable, The Bass Rock burns bright with anger and love.
The drama takes place against the backdrop of the Bass Rock, on the Scottish coast. The setting pervades this novel, adding to the drama and tension. Disturbing themes are knitted into this gothic piece, with dark topics such as madness, psychological and physical abuse, and the powerlessness of women. But it’s also about survival and women’s friendship. The three narratives converge and you wonder how much has changed as women continued to be persecuted as witches, although under different guises.
Author, Evie Wyld wrote The Bass Rock after her father died, as she looked at herself and the women in his family through the lens of grief. The Bass Rock is compelling, powerful and thought provoking. Deeply disturbing and utterly riveting, this is one book you’ll be telling your friends to read too.