Source: Review copy
Publication: 2nd February 2023 from
My thanks to The Borough Press for an advance copy for review
Kate flees London – abandoning everything – for Cumbria and Weyward Cottage, inherited from her great-aunt. There, a secret lurks in the bones of the house, hidden ever since the witch-hunts of the 17th century.
Violet is more interested in collecting insects and climbing trees than in becoming a proper young lady. Until a chain of shocking events changes her life forever.
Altha is on trial for witchcraft, accused of killing a local man. Known for her uncanny connection with nature and animals, she is a threat that must be eliminated.
But Weyward women belong to the wild. And they cannot be tamed…
Three generations of women; each finding their circumstances more than challenging. Each has suffered at the hands of a man and each, through no fault of their own has been banished. It is Kate, in 2019, who will find out more about her ancestors and through what she learns, will finally find the means to deal with her situation.
Altha was tried as a witch in 1619 after a herd of cows trampled a neighbouring farmer. Violet was born into a strict household during the Second World War. Her mother dead, she found her father to be harsh and unrelenting and when her cousin Fredrick comes home from battle she ends up being
In 2019, Kate knows nothing of her female heritage, but she does know that her great aunt Violet has left her a cottage in Crows Beck, a village in Cumbria. She so badly needs to flee her home and so, keeping the existence of her inheritance a secret from her partner, she flees there. It is while she is making a home in Weyward cottage that she unearths some of the history of her great aunt Violet and discovers what binds these three women together.
Emilia Hart’s Weyward is a delightful read and the cottage that links each of these women provides a strong and enduring bond between the ages. Though born into very different circumstances, each woman finds herself in Weyward Cottage needing help and finding it through their connection to the land and the nature that surrounds them.
Weyward is a story of the resilience of women in the face of astonishing misogyny and is also an engrossing and well told story which holds the interest and keeps the reader wanting to know more. Told in different ways, through letters and diaries, first and third person narratives, the story is always clear about whose voice we are hearing from and that makes it a distinctively told story.
Weyward offers an alternative history to that told by the male victors. This is history as told by Gaia; a history of how women’s powerful connection to nature is the wheel that turns the earth and makes things flourish.
Verdict: Verdict: Emilia Hart’s Weyward tells a compelling story of the resilience and the power of women and of how, in the face of adversity, they find an inner strength and connection that is palpable; enough to overcome an adversity that we see all too clearly has not changed over centuries. It weaves its own spell on the reader and though elements of it are familiar and there’s not really any doubt as to whether Kate will prevail, this is still a satisfying and evocative read.
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Emilia Hart is a British-Australian writer. She was born in Sydney and studied English Literature and Law at the University of New South Wales before working as a lawyer in Sydney and London. Emilia is a graduate of Curtis Brown Creative’s Three Month Online Novel Writing Course and was Highly Commended in the 2021 Caledonia Novel Award. Her short fiction has been published in Australia and the UK. She lives in London.