Weyward by Emilia Hart – Book review

Weyward is a wonderful mix of both a family drama spanning centuries and covering the lives of three women and an epic feminist read with a focus on women’s inner power. It looks at how that power was turned against women and called witchcraft…

Opening sentence: Ten days they’d held me there.

The Weyward women

We have chapters from Altha in 1619 – on trial for witchcraft when we first meet her, Violet in 1942 – fighting against the restrictive life prescribed to her as a woman in a rich family and Kate in 2019 – fleeing an abusive relationship.

Weyward cottage in Crows Beck, Cumbria is the physical place that ties our characters together. Each woman faces a very different crisis but as the story unravels, we learn just how they are all linked and what the women mean to each other.

I loved the themes coming through in Weyward and found it to be really engaging and satisfying, as well as very emotional, to read.

We never thought of ourselves as witches, my mother and I. For this was a word invented by men, a word that brings power to those who speak it, not those it describes.

There was such descriptive language used to convey the Weyward women’s affiliation with nature and I loved the nod to Daphne Du Maurier’s wonderful The Birds when nature comes to the aid in a dramatic fashion.

I had nature in my heart, she said. Like she did, and her mother before her.

Weyward is a hugely enjoyable read and you find yourself rooting for all three women as they all deliver little twists in their narratives that lets their true spirit shine. Although witchcraft does indeed play a part in the story, for me, this is a tale about women who don’t fit into the pigeonhole someone else has created for them, and how, when pushed to their limits, their inner strength will come through.

If you like the sound of Weyward, I can also recommend Cackle by Rachel Harrison and Hex by Jenni Fagan – both brilliant reads on women’s power and the narrative of witches.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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