Preview Reviews: The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld

Preview Reviews: The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld

The lives of three women weave together across four centuries in the dazzling new book from Evie Wyld, winner of the Miles Franklin Award. Read on to find out what our Preview readers thought of this masterpiece:

The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld is amazing, powerful, thought provoking. I couldn’t put it down. A wonderful story spread over three timelines is brilliant. I’m loving books that are doing this lately & is something that has gotten me back into reading. Being a father of two daughters I’ll definitely be getting them to read this when they are older. It does make you stop & think about how you treat women in your life. Going from the 1700-1950-2000 it shows how we want change but still don’t have it as much as we want. Thank you so much Better Reading for my advance copy. – Terry, NSW, 5 stars

Beautifully descriptive writing draws you into the interwoven lives of three women across different time periods and the significance of Bass Rock in the Scottish highlands. These women live troubled lives and as the the story unfolds we come to understand how these women are linked and how they battle and survive their terrible circumstances. The use of multiple timelines successfully conveys the unfortunate reality that violence and abuse of women has been going on for far too long. – M Manalo, NSW, 4 stars

The Bass Rock is the third novel by Evie Wyld and focuses on the stories of three women who lived hundreds of years apart. I did enjoy this book but it was not an easy read which meant it took me some time to get through. The differing timelines were sometimes confusing but I liked that all storylines connected to Bass Rock (the location and narrative in general was beautifully described). At points this was a disturbing read particularly with the themes of violence and control exhibited against women, maybe not a summer time beach read and one you need to be able to have time to think about. Thankyou to Better Reading for this preview copy #BRPreview. – Emma, VIC, 3 stars

The Bass Rock, written by Miles Franklin Award-winning UK-Australian author Evie Wyld, explores the experiences of three women as their lives weave together across four centuries. In the early 1700s, Sarah stands accused of being a witch and flees for her life. In the slow years after the Second World War, Ruth moves to a large, haunted house to take care of her new husband and his two sons (who are both traumatised by the recent death of their mother). Decades later, Viviane is mourning the death of her father and cataloguing the belongings of her grandmothers seaside house. Whilst I applauded the use of Bass Rock as a connector to the geography and backdrop of the story, I found the dual timeline hard to follow at times, which ultimately resulted in it being difficult to connect with the characters and storylines. However, there is no doubting that Evie Wyld is a talented writer and I look forward to reading her other novels. Thank you to Better Reading and Penguin Books Australia for this advanced copy. – Kate, VIC, 2 stars

Based on the blurb this sounded like the type of book I would really enjoy, but I found the shifting of time periods was quite confusing for the first half of the novel and I didn’t quite know what was going on until I made a concerted effort to learn who fit in where and what time period they were from. I did find this potentially got in the way of my overall enjoyment of the novel, despite finding some of the threads and events in the novel grabbing me and leaving me curious as to where their storyline was headed. Overall not bad, but perhaps my current state of baby brain made a novel that skipped between time periods too difficult to follow for me right now. – Ash, ACT, 3 stars

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.The story illustrates the struggles of these three different women through the disrespectful, physical and psychological abusive relationships they have. I found the story extremely fascinating and well written but I’d prefer the chapters to have been marked in such a way to make it easier to follow. Characters in certain chapters were unnamed and I was lost as to their connection to the story, for that reason I am giving it a score of three instead of four. – Gloria, SA, 3 stars

an interesting and enthralling read that will have you hooked. – Kate, NSW, 3 stars

I enjoyed following the stories of the main characters and felt invested in them. Though there were suggestions of how they entwined as people and with their environment I really wasn’t sure how it was all going to culminate. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book. – Shannon, NSW, 4 stars

Narrated in multiple time lines The Bass Rock is dark and evocative. A story of three women living decades apart yet their lives are interwoven and uncannily similar in their oppression. Set in the sea side town of North Berwick in Scotland and with a backdrop of the Bass Rock it lends an ethereal feel to the story. The change in time is not heralded by a chapter heading however Wyld makes it easily recognisable by the change in prose to adapt to the era. A thought provoking read. Highly recommended for Historical Fiction fans. – Veronica, NSW, 4 stars

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. – Kylie, QLD, 3 stars

I found The Bass Rock rich in story telling and descriptive text. Wyld has an extremely haunting aspect to her writing as an overall arch, but I somehow found the novel as a whole lacking. While the three different time periods worked as stand alone, I found the format in which they were presented as a whole confusing and hard to keep up with. There was no way to delineate the different time periods, they just jumped from one to another. I also found the minor characters of Betty & Maggie more interesting than the main characters. I can see the storyline that Wyld was trying to achieve but just found the substance lacking. She did portray the level of violence against women over the centuries effectively, I just don’t feel the character development packed enough punch and substance to fully engage the reader. – Mel, NSW, 2 stars

Well written with believable characters, I found it easy to read and would recommend to my friends. – Lynette, NSW, 4 stars

While written quite beautifully, with an interesting premise, I found it quite jarring how much the story fluctuated between each timeline, making it easy to lose track of which character you were following and I felt disrupted the flow of the story. I did like how each story converged to a main theme, tied together by the physical place, lending a kind of magical realistic feel. – Vivian, NSW, 3 stars

I thought the book was written well, in terms of the fact that it was easy to read and I kept wanting to read it. In terms of the actual book I thought it was a bit disjointed and couldn’t work out how some sections were connected, I kept waiting for the connection to be made so was a little disappointed when I had finished the book and still felt a puzzled. This may have been because I read the book whilst traveling and maybe missed some crucial points. – Leanne, WA, 2 stars

I usually love a story with intertwined narratives however unfortunately it let this one down. Difficult to follow but somewhat redeemed by the beautiful writing. – Emma, VIC, 3 stars

‘The Bass Rock’ was a surprising and interesting read. There are brilliant descriptions of landscapes, seascapes, situations and people. At times, the book is bleak – just like Bass Rock. However, the subject matter is important. The connections and themes across decades and centuries are cleverly stitched into the story telling. Throughout the book there are ‘reveals’ which helped me put the puzzle together. However, there were some things I couldn’t work out so they will remain a mystery and my puzzle has small gaps. I was left thinking about the themes long after I finished the book. – Sandra, ACT, 3 stars

Bass Rock is a somewhat bleak setting for the stories of the three women explored in this novel. There is sadness woven through their stories but they are survivors. Some concentration required due to the timelines. – Kelly, QLD, 3 stars

THE BASS ROCK -The characters and their relationship to each other slowly take form over the telling of the intricate and subtle story. This book is not plot driven, it deals with trivial and often inconsequential details of each scene, in roughly three different time lines. For this type of book to interest the reader the prose must be magical and poetic and this is indeed the case. It conjures up brilliantly scenes of a dysfunctional and disturbed, small coastal Scottish community and shocks the reader by showing how a newly arrived family can be effected by various obnoxious local characters. The violent episodes that regularly occur, support the main contention that all males have an animal side that will materialize in the form of the rape, brutality, and or psychological abuse of females, without exception. Any reader will be disappointed by expecting that all or any loose ends of the story will be tied up. Reading it was akin to visiting the dentist but I found that I was wanting to make repeat appointments. – Debbie, VIC, 4 stars

A post-war wife attempting to measure up and fit into her new family. A Scottish coastal village whose surface belies a less-than-wholesome past. A house that holds the echoes of the evil deeds. A twenty-first century granddaughter uncovering the past. And an eighteenth-century girl branded with the taint of her mother’s unconventional lifestyle. Wyld weaves their stories together and immerses the reader in an enthralling tale. – Marianne, NSW, 5 stars

The Bass Rock covers 3 different timelines and 3 different women and how their lives are affected by the Men in their lives through control and/or violence. I found Ruth’s story the saddest and the things they would do to women if they were emotional or considered not stable was terrible. I did struggle to follow the switching between timelines and felt that this could have been improved with headings of the chapters. Thank you to Better Reading for the opportunity to review. – Virginia, NSW, 3 stars

The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld is a well written and enjoyable read that weaves together the lives of three women across the span of four centuries. Each womans complicated and troubled life is set against the backdrop of the Bass Rock on the Scottish mainland. As each story unfolds links between the womens lives emerge as well as the similarities in their stories. Each woman dealing with controlling and violent men and surviving by the power of there female friendships and bonds that help them to heal. I look forward to reading more by this author. – Rebecca, NSW, 4 stars

a wonderful bk that flows through three different time periods. Each one is brought to life by the interesting characters and the haunting plot. riveting, i could not put it down. – Kristy, NSW, 4 stars

Thank you Better Reading for my Advance Proof. Evie Wyld has created a sweep of vivid flawed women struggling to battle through the disappointment of disrespectful and violent relationships. Despite living hundreds of years apart they all become victims, under different circumstances, of men. This is a reminder that physical violence and psychological abuse continue to happen and this book explores the many ways it is perpetrated on women.The use of bass rock as a connector for the stories provided a dramatic unsettling backdrop for the unfolding events. I also liked the slightly speculative feel created by ghosts of women past and the camaraderie of women helping each other. My favourite scene was ‘the beach picnic’ – this was a gothic and frightening moment with superb tension. I liked the different time periods and I’m generally okay with shifting time frames but I would have preferred a better marker or indicator as I found the Roman numerals confusing. A small icon or logo connected with each time period would have made it easier to follow. Overall the impact of parts of this novel was more powerful than its entirety which had so many interesting but unresolved threads. – Tundra, ACT, 3 stars

I found this novel a long arduous read. It was at times hard to follow, trying to decipher which character was in play. None of the characters appealed and the story felt damp and dreary like the Scottish coast line. – Dianne, SA, 1 star

I like this kind of book historical fiction. Great characters and lovely outdoor setting. Loved the story was well written and will read it again. – Beth, TAS, 5 stars

The Bass Rock is my kind of complicated book. It began slowly, but before I knew it, I was so enraptured, I stayed up half the night to finish it. It is a tale in three parts. The first in the 1720s where a young, suspected Witch is being transported to the coast in Scotland. The second in the years after WW2 where Ruth finds herself stepmother to two young boys in an isolated house near the sea. The third, fifty years later where Viviane is cataloguing the contents of her grandmothers’ home by the sea and unearthing family secrets. I loved the way the stories wove in and out of each other, revealing a little more with each turn. The stories are of women, but also of the power of men, over women and children and sometimes other men. I give it five stars! – Daniella, QLD, 5 stars

Clever! Thoroughly enjoyed the back and forth of the different timelines, and seeing how the timelines were interweaved as the novel progressed. Quite dark and disturbing material, however it wasn’t oppressive due to some of the unique and quirky characters. A novel that gets your brain ticking. Well crafted. – Regina, NSW, 4 stars

It took me a while to get into this book and I found, early on, that I enjoyed reading about Ruth’s story more than the others. There is a nasty undercurrent of subtle and not so subtle domestic violence throughout the book in each of the womens’ lives which I found interestingly, voyeuristically. The relationship between Viv and her sister was also fascinating. Evie Wyld writes beautifully and was able to ensure you engage with each character without actually connecting. – Abi, NSW, 3 stars

This was a book I was looking forward to reading but I got to page 8 and was not impressed. I love reading books about the past and how it affects the present but found this one confusing and rather irritating. The characters did catch my attention and the story just didn’t work for me. Unfortunately I can’t really say much more except it is the type of story that could have been great but fell short. – Donna, TAS, 1 star

“The Bass Rock” is an interesting novel – absorbing reading, but I find myself unsure of the point it was making. Perhaps that all men are capable of violence, and reflexively turn it on women. A thread running through the novel is the violence men visit upon women. There are few decent men in this novel. Even the most mild seems to need little, if any, provocation to turn violent. Confront your husband about his affair? Leave him because of his cheating? How can you expect anything but violence and sexual abuse? And yes, perhaps the point of the novel is the entitlement of men, and the abusive way they round on the nearest woman at even the mildest frustration. But simply showing us that doesn’t bring anything new to the discussion. I found the novel frustrating in the end – absorbing to some extent, but ultimately each story felt inconclusive. There was nothing for me in this litany of abuse. No hope, no new insights, no clear path for any of the women. I’m not sorry I read this. It’s challenging, and an interesting exploration of how lies or half truths can undermine victims. It just feels that it’s missing something. – Lorraine, ACT, 3 stars

The Bass Rock This is a read that stayed with me after I’d finished reading it. I flipped the sequences around in my head, picking out the important messages. The pace was spot on for me, the mood and plots intertwined without feeling disjointed. It unfolded in a way that made me wanting more but the storytelling enveloped me. The characters were all in pain, their emotional journeys were realistic and beautiful thought out. This style of writing was descriptive and atmospheric without being heavy to read. I really loved this book with its subtle shocks dropped in. – Kellie, SA, 5 stars

Very raw and real. A possibly very accurate tale about a families story, told over a number of years and generations. The timeline of the story is at times hard to follow, however it adds interesting perspectives to the story. At times I felt as though the authour could have pulled more out of the characters and their stories and it felt as though some of the characters just dissapeared from the storyline without a true ending. Overall- a good read. – Heidi, NSW, 3 stars

2 1/2 stars. Very vivid and detailed story telling that creates a disturbing picture of the lives of not only the three main women, hundreds of years apart, but of those close to them. I found the change in time lines confusing and lost track of who was in each time period as the stories blended to create a thread. I preferred the minor characters, Betty and Maggie, to any of the others, and overall felt underwhelmed and not clear about who had been murdered and the purpose of the bass rock. Thank you to Penguin and Better Reading for the advanced reading copy of this book. – Pamela, QLD, 3 stars

I was left somewhat confused by The Bass Rock, by Evie Wyld. I feel like I missed something. There’s a darkness to this story in its dealings with violence towards women. I liked that it delved into different forms of that violence and abuse, psychological and physical. The ways women have been judged throughout history when men want to lay blame – she’s a witch, she’s hysterical and mad, she’s not normal. It’s all very topical. I didn’t dislike this story, but I can’t say I really liked it. – Alice, NSW, 2 stars

The stories of Ruth and Viv drew me in, particularly Ruth’s, the second wife clearly married as a replacement rather than for love. This not a light summer read but is a character driven study of women trapped in their life by circumstance, men and personal issues. I found the character of Sarah not as deeply drawn as the others and not as clearly linked as the other two. This story has many layers and well worth rereading – Juanita, NSW, 4 stars

This book as left me confused. I appreciate the weaving of the stories of the women together but it was just too convoluted. It was hard work and that is not what you want from a book. – Janelle, NSW, 2 stars

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 novel that, for me, demanded too much effort for too little reward. – Dominique, SA, 1 star

The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld is a compelling and well written story that touches on some very serious issues regarding the power and dominance of men. Three women Sarah, Ruth and Viv from very different backgrounds and time periods have lives that are linked to each other and the house that lies in the shadow of Bass Rock. I found it to be confronting and at times confusing as each woman’s story is told concurrently. It was quite dark and it could be distressing for some readers as themes of violence, madness and sexual predation are interwoven in the lives of the women . The psychological and physical damage that is done to the women and children in the book is not always spelt out and a lot of the horror comes from the imagination of the reader. The Bass Rock, whilst thought provoking, was not an uplifting or happy book and is certainly not suitable for everyone. – Janelle, NSW, 4 stars

What a heavy, dull and boring book! I understand that at times books can be very serious but this one unfortunately took itself too seriously. Set in chapters within chapters 3 women in different eras are intertwined. I am not sure whether this was a clear stroke of genius which I didn’t get, or a need to make a certain page count. I felt the characters all to be unremarkable, not relatable and unlikeable. I tried hard to understand the point of the book or what is was trying to explore but came up with nothing. I may be completely missing the point and I am sure that others will love this novel, but yep I will of file this one under ‘good opportunity to try something different’. – Katarzyna, VIC, 1 star

Evie Wyld is an author who has mastered the art of intertwining rich and interesting storylines together. The Bass Rock tells the story of three very different women from different time periods and it does it in a beautiful and unique way. Each of the storylines – Sarah from the 1700s, Ruth a stepmother in the 1950s, and Viv fifty years later – delivers both an individual story as well as adding to the plot as a whole. It was a pleasure to read. Each woman’s story is connected to the other but they were strong voices in their own right. I grew to really feel for each of the women as I read The Bass Rock. I was worried about them (especially Sarah) as we got to see their lives and the tough times they faced. It’s a book that will keep you thinking about the characters long after you’ve read the last page. – Kate, QLD, 3 stars

Three women, three different time periods but their lives are still connected. 1700s A young girl Sarah is accused of being a witch and is taken in by a priest and his son who are trying to save her. 1950s Ruth a step mother and replacement wife to Peter is living in a large house overlooking the Bass Rock. The children are at boarding school and her new husband is often away so she is left to herself with the ghosts of the old house. 2000s Vivienne is sorting and cataloguing the remains of her grandmothers seaside house. Her mother has suggested it would be a good ‘job’ for her as she is at a loose end after the trauma of losing her father. Each woman’s place is intrinsically linked to those that came before and to the Bass Rock A multigenerational, multi layered story that grips you from the start. How are these women’s lives connected and what significance does the Bass Rock have? A truly wonderful piece of work by Evie Wyld. – Karyn, ACT, 4 stars

“The Bass Rock” was an intriguing read. It was a dark and mysterious book with a curious story line that intertwined generations. It was like reading a finely woven tapestry, all the pieces came together to reveal how the stories connected. There was an undercurrent of melancholy throughout the novel as it touched on topics that might be considered taboo. It had a real air of feminism to it and a cast of thought-provoking characters. It’s the kind of book you keep reading page after page as you find yourself connecting the dots and becoming absorbed in the story. – Belinda, VIC, 2 stars

Such an interesting book set in Scotland with a lot of different characters some good some bad, Maggie is a great character as is Viv poor Ruth is stuck is a strange marriage ( no spoilers ) I really enjoyed this book – Deborah, NSW, 4 stars

Evie Wyld’s ‘The Bass Rock’ weaves the stories of three complicated women living at a damp and cold Scottish town in three different times in history. A suspected witch, on the run from a town of angry villagers. A replacement wife, always in the shadow of the deceased ‘real’ mother of two boys and unable to measure up to ‘perfect’ wife of a misogynist businessman. A scattered and lonely middle-aged woman, set to return to an ancient family home to catalogue any precious ancient heirlooms left at the property before its sale. The landscape remains the same over the centuries and the power struggle between man and woman change as little as the waves that crash upon the lichen covered rocks. There are ghosts who waft into the story, unobtrusive spectators of a scene in which woman fall to the mercies of arrogant man. The reader joins the untouchable onlookers, without their wisdom or knowledge. Wyld writes lyrically of the characters and landscapes. It is the women’s emotional and relational journeys that drive the story. The witch-hunt and following escape reek of power and fear not unlike ‘The Crucible’. Ruth’s post war, newlywed drama reads like a sweeping historical saga. My favourite is Vivien’s modern storyline. It is reminiscent of ‘Eleanor Oliphant is completely Fine’ in its humour and poignancy. The different tales are woven together to depict horrific violence against women, some of the mysteries in the struggle for identity, and the battle for respect in human relationships. – Amy, NSW, 4 stars

This gave me a headache. Trying to follow along the storyline was hard! I’m left confused and disappointed in the story as a whole. Reading should be enjoyable not a task. – Shayla, NSW, 1 star

The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld was a great read. The stories are fascinating and seeing how the are woven together is brilliant. Really enjoyed it – Elizabeth, NSW, 5 stars

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            Publisher details

            The Bass Rock
            Author
            Evie Wyld
            Publisher
            Penguin
            Genre
            Fiction
            Released
            26 March, 2020

            Synopsis

            The lives of three women weave together across four centuries in the dazzling new book from Evie Wyld, a Granta Best of Young British NovelistRuth, in the aftermath of the Second World War, is navigating a new marriage and the strange waters of the local community.Six decades later, Viv, still mourning the death of her father, is cataloguing Ruth’s belongings in the now-empty house.As each woman’s story unfolds, it becomes increasingly clear that their choices are circumscribed, in ways big and small, by the men who seek to control them. But in sisterhood there is also the possibility of survival and a new way of life. Intricately crafted and compulsively readable, The Bass Rock burns bright with anger and heart – a devastating indictment of the violence that men have inflicted on women throughout the ages.
            Evie Wyld
            About the author

            Evie Wyld

            Evie Wyld grew up in Australia and the UK. She now runs Review, a small independent bookshop in London. Her first novel, After the Fire, A Still Small Voice, won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and a Betty Trask Award. In 2011 she was listed as one of the Culture Show's Best New British Novelists. She was also shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. In 2013 she was listed as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists. Evie's second novel, All the Birds, Singing, was published in 2013. It was longlisted for the 2014 Stella Prize and the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, and shortlisted for the Costa Novel Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. She is the winner of the 2013 Encore Award, the Jerwood Fiction Uncovered Prize and the 2014 Miles Franklin Award.

            Books by Evie Wyld

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