Wednesday, March 15, 2023

March Read: Weyward by Emilia Hart


I first saw the cover of this book months ago, and immediately knew it would be a novel I had to read as soon as it was published. I can't tell you how much I love this cover. Absolutely stunning. 

I'm happy to say the novel was just as good as the cover promised. Women becoming empowered, to be strong and fearless in the face of adversity always resonates with me. 

This novel is told in three voices: Altha, Violet, and Kate. Three generations of women from the Weyward family; each with a powerful connection to nature, particularly crows. Altha's story takes place in 1619, Violet in the 1940's, and Kate in present day England. 

Kate is married to Simon, an abusive man who has cut her off from everyone she knows. He locks her in their posh apartment, monitors her phone, and has complete control over her. He wants a child, and Kate is terrified of getting pregnant. When she discovers she is pregnant, she is forced to act on her carefully laid plains to flee and disappear from her life with Simon. 

Kate runs away to the small village of Crows Beck, where her Great Aunt Violet has left Kate her cottage. Named Weyward Cottage, Kate arrives to discover a squat little place full of Violet's things, and a wild garden. And crows. Lots of crows. Kate is fearful of the cottage and the surrounding woods, which seem to be full of bees, birds, insects, and wild flowers. Yet she can't help but be aware of a strange buzzing in her chest; and a heightened sense of hearing that connects her to nature. 

Violet's story takes place near Weyward Cottage in 1942. Living in Orton Hall with her overbearing father and her younger brother Graham, she is a teenager who has not been allowed to leave the grounds of the estate her entire life. She's completely naive to the world and longs to leave. Her father is an ogre who refuses to speak of their mother and believes Violet is just like her. When cousin Frederick visits on leave from the War, Violet's life takes an unexpected, violent turn. 

Altha lives in Weyward Cottage in 1619, and is the ancestor of Violet and Kate. She's been accused of witchcraft and the murder of a local man, who early one morning was trampled to death by his cows. She is positive she will be found guilty and hung as a witch. Her trial drags on while Altha recalls her life with her mother, also a healing woman who tried to stay under the radar of watchful eyes. 

All three women are connected not only by blood, but by their gifts, handed down each generation to another Weyward female. Each woman's journey to embracing her gifts and using them to empower themselves is the center of this novel. 

I absolutely loved reading each women's story. All three women have compelling lives; I found Violet's to be the most fascinating. The descriptions of nature, flowers, gardens, insects, and the woods resonated with me mostly because of the upcoming Spring months. I thought a lot about flowers blooming, the earth waking up again,  and growing my garden. It was a great reminder of how everything works in sync, and that we are a part of the natural world. To put down the phone and to take a walk and inhale fresh air. 

The novel reads quickly, but I found myself lingering. I didn't want it to end! 

Anyone who is a fan of Alice Hoffman, or Sarah Addison Allen will want to read this novel. I certainly hope Emilia Hart writes more; I will definitely read whatever she writes. 

Rating: 5/6 for a novel about three women from the Weyward female line who learn  to appreciate and embrace their gifts and use them to live their true lives. Is it witchcraft or just a powerful connection to the natural world? 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

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