Author: Emilia Hart
Publication: February 2, 2023 by The Borough Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism
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Three women. Five centuries. One secret.
In 2019, Kate flees an abusive relationship in London for Crows Beck, a remote Cumbrian village. Her destination is Weyward Cottage, inherited from her great Aunt Violet, an eccentric entomologist. As Kate struggles with the trauma of her past, she uncovers a secret about the women in her family. A secret dating back to 1619, when her ancestor Altha Weyward was put on trial for witchcraft…
Interweaving the stories of three women across history, Weyward is a novel about gender and control. It is a celebration of nature, female power and breaking free.
Content warnings: sexual assault, domestic abuse, physical abuse, abortion, pregnancy, suicide attempt
Although it took me a couple of chapters to really get into this book, once I did it was hard to not keep wanting to listen to the story. How could I not have ended up loving it? It had witchcraft with a compelling kind of magic, nature and capable women finding their strength throughout.
Weyward is told through three different points of view by Kate, Violet and Altha. First we’ve got Kate in 2019. When we meet her she’s running away from her abusive husband and ends up going to Weyward Cottage, which she inherited from her great-aunt. Then we have Violet, a teenager in 1942. All she wants is to be in nature, surrounded by the trees and insects, despite her controlling father’s will. And lastly we got Altha from 1619. She’s on trial for witchcraft after being accused of killing a farmer from her village. The fact that she is known for her healing skills and close connection to nature makes things not look good for her.
Usually when there’s a book with different point of view there’s always one that sticks out more than the others but with this one I can’t really pick one favorite. I loved Kate, Violet and Altha equally and really felt for them. All three of them go through horrendous things (see content warnings) and eventually come out on top but not without its damage, of course. But even so these women were amazing and powerful and I loved reading about them.
The magic in the story was subtle and entwined in the power of nature and animals which is something that I adored. Another thing I loved was Weyward Cottage, itself. In all three points of view, the cottage is or ends up being a safe space for Kate, Violet and Altha. It becomes a home for them and as the reader it felt a little bit of the same.
The narrators of the audiobook were Aysha Kala, Helen Keely and Nell Barlow. I really enjoyed that there was a different narrator for each of the main characters, it made each women stand out that much more. I also have nothing negative to say about the way that the narration was done. They all did a fantastic job, in my opinion and would love to listen to more of their work if they have any.
Weyward by Emilia Hart is a powerful and mysterious novel connecting three different women from the same family line across the centuries. On the backdrop of an old cottage with a wild garden, the story unravels their family secrets and kinship to nature.
About the author:
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.