Reviews for Weyward

by Emilia Hart

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Three generations of women struggle against the bounds of patriarchy in this debut novel. Over the course of centuries, the Weyward women of Crows Beck in Cumbria, England, have shared a common gift: the ability to connect deeply with and seemingly communicate with nature, particularly animals. But they are also all victimized and controlled by men in a variety of ways. In 1619, healer Altha is put on trial for witchcraft after having been seen near a field where a farmer is trampled by his cows and because her own mother was suspected of being a witch due to her involvement in treating people in the village. Hundreds of years later, in the early 1940s, Violet Ayres chafes against the heavy-handed scrutiny and control of her father and struggles to learn more about her mother, Elizabeth Weyward, who died under mysterious circumstances when Violet was young. In the present day, Kate Ayres has fled her abusive live-in boyfriend before he can discover that she’s pregnant, taking refuge in her great-aunt Violet’s cottage as she attempts to rebuild her life and protect herself and her baby. Although the women's connection to nature at times feels like an unneeded dose of the supernatural in this already gripping novel, the ways in which they are subjected to the whims and cruelties of male dominance are chilling and realistic. Readers probably won't be especially surprised by some of the twists of the story, but this is nonetheless an engaging novel that captures the ways patriarchy has sought to limit women for all of history and the ways women have found to carve out freedom for themselves. Thoughtful and at times harrowing, this novel is a successful blend of historical fiction and modern feminism. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.