It's hard to describe why I loved this book so much. It's a book full of harsh realities (and if you have idyllic visions of a life in the British countryside raising sheep, and you'd like to keep those beautiful fantasies, you might want to skip this one).
All the Birds, Singing is the story of Jake Whyte, a woman who, at the opening, lives by herself in said British countryside, trying to raise sheep on her own and keep her distance from the other farmers nearby for reasons that are made clearer as the book progresses. She has only her dog, Dog, to keep her company, and there are some unsettling things happening around her, including the suspicious deaths of some of her sheep.
The structure of the book itself is fascinating. The story is told in chapters alternating between Jake's present time in Britain and her childhood in Australia. But what's really interesting is that the chapters told in Britain are in past tense, going forward in time, while the Australian chapters are told present tense going back in time. This sounds tricksy, but it's not--it serves the story beautifully and really helps draw out Jake's character in a way a more straightforward narrative would not have done. It also leads to one of the most satisfying endings I think I've read in ages, which of course I won't share because, you know, spoilers.
Jake's life is one of hardship, and going backwards in time through her young years allows us to see the progression in a new light. She's very flawed, but compelling and believable and often sympathetic. Even the most horrific of characters gets some shading that doesn't necessarily make you like them, but helps you understand them.
Wyld also does a fantastic job of creating the natural worlds that Jake inhabits, which are night-and-day in differences between Britain and Australia.
And there are two dogs who are characters themselves: Dog in Britain and, for a while, Kelly in Australia. Clearly Wyld knows dogs and understands their best and worst traits--and that those traits often come from their all-too-human owners.
A wonderful read. My fervent thanks to the publisher for providing me an ARC via NetGalley.