All the Birds, Singing: A Novel
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From one of Granta’s Best Young British Novelists, an emotionally powerful, award-winning novel about an outsider haunted by an inescapable past.
Jake Whyte has retreated to a remote farmhouse on a craggy British island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds, with only her collie and a flock of sheep as companions. But something—or someone—has begun picking off her sheep one by one. There are foxes in the woods, a strange man wandering the island, and rumors of a mysterious beast prowling at night. And there is Jake’s relentless past—one she tried to escape thousands of miles away and years ago, concealed in stubborn silence and isolation and the scars that stripe her back. With exceptional artistry, All the Birds, Singing plumbs a life of fierce struggle and survival, sounding depths of unexpected beauty and hard-won redemption.
Outside.’ The growl was a deep one from down in his guts. I pulled back the curtain and looked out. ‘Turn the light off,’ I said quietly. Lloyd flipped the switch and came to stand next to me. I closed my eyes for a moment to try and get them used to the dark, then looked again. ‘The human eye senses movement before all else,’ said Lloyd, and I stared at him. ‘What?’ he said. ‘I read it in National Geographic.’ Out the window, nothing moved. ‘Someone’s watching the house, I can feel it,’ I.
The ground which he’d taken with him from the pub. I hoped nobody had seen. He read out, in a booming voice, ‘“Your puppy should learn his name right away. Say his name often in a gentle voice.”’ ‘Dog is four years old, and he knows he’s Dog already,’ I said. ‘You’re just pissing him off. He’ll bite you.’ Lloyd carried on, ‘“It is imperative you teach your dog not to bark when working. Yell NO! at him harshly. If he does not listen, grab him by the nose and say NO! firmly.”’ ‘He is going to.
Shear there’ll be something better.’ We load it up anyway and when we’ve driven back to the house, I help throw it all into the paddock. ‘All good fertiliser,’ he says, but I’m not sure I believe him. Kelly sits on her behind and when we’ve finished chucking them in, she goes to investigate, comes back with fleece sticking to her muzzle and a hacking cough from eating hair. I think about the earring that night when Otto comes to me and bends me over the bed. I think about how he took my little.
Pulled a colour photograph: Don, looking much the same as he did now, the oilskin coat the same, the boots. A different shade of shirt on underneath the oilskin and a thicker quality to the white hair at the side of his head, but that was all. The woman next to him could have been his daughter, her blonde hair in a ponytail, a long beaked nose and her mouth open, laughing. Her hand rested on the head of a small dark child, who held a fistful of her turquoise bomber jacket in his paw. The boy wore.
Hold on to it with both hands because of the shake in my arms. ‘Where’s the lamb?’ I asked, looking at the empty dog bed by the stove. We both listened but there was no other sound from the house. 30 I’m stealing looks at Denver Cobby, the half-Aboriginal kid from the year above. He is outside the gates, smoking and talking with another boy. He doesn’t care that anyone can see him, and because of that the teachers don’t ever hassle him. He’s that cool. I’m pretending to be really into.