Cover Image: The Bass Rock

The Bass Rock

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Member Reviews

This was a really interesting story - told primarily through three main storylines with other stories of women interwoven. It was hard to follow at times everything that was going on but it was really interesting. I loved how they used witchcraft as a tool for showing male abuse. It was a really heartbreaking look at the toxic relationships we can be in and the dangers of them but also the beauty in women supporting each other.
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This is a beautifully written book with a strong message. It works through centuries of women's discomfort and rage, and I really appreciated the views we were given into these characters' lives. While this might be someone else's perfect book, I can recognize that it just wasn't meant to emotionally connect with me. I went into it expecting something a little more atmospheric and ended up feeling let down by the description and language that I wanted from this kind of story. There were moments of really beautiful prose, but something held me back from connecting completely with the characters beyond a universal sense of womanhood.
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this had a lot going on and was such an intense read. a really great examination of the trauma women go through, and how we've been going through it forever now. it was really devastating and i admire the way Wyld really made me *feel* for these characters, although things did feel a bit jumbled at times and i wish perhaps the chapters had been labeled by narrator.
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The setting was absolutely spectacular. The large house on the North Berwick shore with the Bass Rock looming in the view from the windows.

This is my first Evie Wyld novel and I found the writing to be an unusual and artistic blend of feminine angst, magical realism, and gothic melodrama – there is even a wee ghost.

Of the three women protagonists, I found Ruth’s story to be the most compelling. Her loneliness. Her husband’s abominable treatment of her…

Vivienne’s character was troubled, and reading her authentic voice was downright disturbing at times. She seemed deeply unhappy, drank to excess, and didn’t eat well. Her actions and thoughts were told in almost a stream of consciousness technique. Her interactions with the quirky Maggie felt almost ominous.

It bothered me that the women in this novel turned to drink at the slightest provocation. I don’t mind a drink or three myself, but their drinking seemed over excessive and made them seem weaker than they were.

Although this is not a crime novel, it did contain many crimes within its pages.

The theme of this novel covered several topics such as loss, loneliness, misogyny, and crimes against women over the years. It has an overall dark and unsettling tone, and reads as feminist fiction.  It expounds on the centuries of hurt that men have inflicted on women. It portrays men as mostly selfish and predatory. Perhaps I’ve been lucky, but tarring all with the same brush made it seem as though the author belabored the vilifying of men.

The writing itself was beautiful in places. The atmosphere and pathos were astounding.

I realize that this story might not be for everyone. The tone, the subject matter, are not to everyone’s taste. This is award-winning, literary fiction, deserving of acclaim, yet it leaves this reader with an uncomfortable feeling. Perhaps it was meant to?

3.5 stars rounded up
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I have to say that I had high hopes for The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld. However I found that, although I was well into it, I couldn’t really relate to any of the characters. Usually I thoroughly enjoy a storyline alternating between characters and timelines but, I found this narrative too disjointed to got to know the personalities. I loved the descriptions of the locations but, unfortunately I gave up half way through. Just not for me.

My thanks to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for the opportunity to read the book.
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I liked this!

Reading about violence against women is always hard but Wyld did it tastefully and in an impactful way. Really liked the characters and sense of setting and place.
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The Bass Rock created a major buzz when it was first released. Reading around I realized I wasn't quite ready yet in September. I needed a little bit more time after moving, I needed to make sure I was settled before I read something I suspected would be unsettling. I was correct, for once. The Bass Rock is a shattering, brilliant book. Thanks to Pantheon and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 It doesn't happen often that I have as strong a visceral reaction after finishing a book as I did when I finished The Bass Rock. I sat with the tension and I could feel it racing through my body. With the danger of entering TMI territory, I ended up throwing up. I had read the final third of the book in one, almost frantic go, propelled forward by the story until the final sentence. I may have entered TMI territory but I intend to stay far away from spoiler territory. However, that final chapter was a gut punch. Throughout the narratives of Wyld's main three women, we get the stories of anonymous women throughout time, running, cowering, trusting, fighting. Almost like punctuation, they relentlessly enforce and emphasize Wyld's themes. Violence against women permeates this novel and although for some readers it could be too much, it is a testament to Wyld's writing and intent that it never feels sensational or purposeless. 

The Bass Rock is divided into four sections, one dedicated to each of the three main characters, Sarah, Ruth and Viv, and one to the unnamed women of the past. These stories intertwine here or there, ghostly touches that connect one woman to the next. All three women are haunted, all three women are struggling with issues unique to their time-period and timeless issues. Whereas Ruth and Viv's narratives are from their points of view, we're slightly more distant from Sarah as her story is told to us through a boy. It was an interesting choice to put us at a remove from her, since her time period is already so distant to most. What it does is draw a different response from the reader, make them look at her sideways. Viv is something of a "messy" character, often self-sabotaging yet good at heart. Through her we also meet her sister, mother and a stranger, Maggie. The latter is a revelation. She is definitely, maybe, probably a witch. Her wildness allows Wyld to make her anger, frustration and despair palpable and audible and there was on specific speech of hers I had to sit with for an hour or so to let it sink in. Ruth is very controlled and on edge when we first meet her. By the end she is no less on edge but some of her control has slipped. She reacts more, emotes more, tries to build connections to the women and the world around her. As The Bass Rock crescendos towards it conclusion, the tension in all three narratives ramps up. You will hope for the best for all these women, while understanding that "the best" is hard to define.

Evie Wyld writes brilliantly. Whether it is Maggie's frantic, heavy speeches or the quiet yet stormy sea, Wyld is able to write it all. This book will suck you in and it will hold you in suspense throughout. Mixing a Gothic atmosphere with historical fiction and contemporary drama, Wyld finds a great balance. The Bass Rock is not an easy book and it will prove tough to some readers, but God is it rewarding. Whether it is recognizing the urge to break something or feeling the fear of a threatening text, The Bass Rock will resonate with you. All of Wyld's women deal with loss, sadness, anger and hope. They all desire to do better, to make a difference, to wake up good , to be free and safe. Reading this book felt like a high-stake situation, it felt like I was on the edge of something. As a reader you have to be aware of this tension and you have to guide yourself through it, take a breath whenever you can. But you will never be able to resist going back to The Bass Rock. Like the rock in its title, this novel has a magic pull, an elemental charisma, which has catapulted Evie Wyld to the top of my list of authors.

The Bass Rock is a book that will shake you. It won't allow you to be comfortable or safe at any point during its 368 pages. Approach it carefully, but approach it nonetheless. The Bass Rock is immensely rewarding.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group for this e-ARC. I wanted so badly to love this book. Unfortunately, despite the interesting enough synopsis and stunning cover design, I had to DNF this book at around 35%. I made multiple attempts to power through, but the pacing and detachment I felt toward the characters made it too much of a chore for me to continue. I think there is a lot to enjoy in this story, and certainly in the hands of a different reader it will be much loved, but in my particular experience neither the diverging timelines nor the overall plot—though even at a third of the way through I had not a glimpse of a larger narrative—were enough to grab me.
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I wanted to like this book but it's just not for me, its very dark without much payoff at the end it was quite hard to finish
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Wow-what a powerful book! Set in a coastal area of Scotland, the book connects three women from three different timelines (the 1700s, post WW2, and modern-day) and leaps from one story to another.  Throughout the book, there is an ambiance of danger, fear, confusion, and pervasive violence. In each of these atmospheric and visceral sections, we connect with women navigating their lives with limited information and the threat or experience of violence hovering near. While it's menacing and tense, there are also wonderful/ complex connections of sisterhood throughout- of women finding women they trust to help and learn from.  But this is absolutely a horror story of everyday violence, misogyny, and mental anguish from living a life of limited options.

This book was powerful, frightening but rich in detail and insights. It left me reverberating with fear and anger. I won't soon forget it.
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There was much to enjoy here, but I found I couldn't connect with it. I'd read more from this author in the future though.
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“The Bass Rock’s color looked, from where she stood, as white as the bones. She thought of the birds on its pate, unsettling and landing again.”

Disturbing, dark and gritty. A novel set within the Scottish east coast that intricately weaves three women living within different time periods.

This story primarily focuses on toxic masculinity and trauma. The writing was gorgeously descriptive and atmospheric, but I felt more invested in one of the timelines than I did the others. I think I set my expectations for this one too high before going in.

If you enough gothic literature I would say give this one a go.
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A powerful novel which looks at the lives of various women scatered through the centuries - Viviane, a troubled 20th century soul[ Ruth stepmother to two young bys in the wake of the loss of her brother in WWII; Sarah, a young woman accused of witchcraft - interspersed with vignettes of various women who have been the subject of male violence and subjugation.

In the course of their stories (and before the reader enters their lives) Viviane, Ruth and Sarah are all subjected to various forms of male violence and coercion and there is much in their situations that will drive the reader to impotent rage. The men in their lives are self-centred, domineering and abusive. The exceptions are Antony lost to the violence of war and Viviane's father, the likely victim of abuse at boarding school.

There are few examples of men behaving honestly in this portrayal. Besides the violence, there is betrayal and deceit. Women have to find ways to survive and receive little support from men.

Wyld deliberately omits some detail and the reader is left to fill in the grotesque gaps. The violence is often graphic but also understated. The women are not just victims but fighting for a sense of self. Maggie, a friend of Viviane's, is the only one to state openly her rage at the violence meted out to women and describes the murder of women as the work of a serial murderer. She fears being regarded as a madwoman for expressing her views and the threat of being consigned to a 'sanatorium' is a constant threat to Ruth.

Their stories are separated by time but linked by location. The Bass Rock stands as silent witness to the outrages performed in the book. Yet, there is beauty in this story. Viviane's story is darkly comic and Ruth's story lyrical in its description of the landscape in the midst of a family saga but then they are survivors. 

Ruth and Viviane both find solace and support in the company of women. And there lies the hope.
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The Bass Rock made so many favorites lists and I went into it suspecting it may make mine too! But alas... Honestly, this book was perfectly fine but I missed whatever bowled over so many other readers. What does The Bass Rock promise to do? Follow three women in different points of time as they navigate life especially in their opposition to men in their life. What does it do? Exactly that! I don’t feel like I have any reason to be disappointed but it lacked anything truly exceptional for me.

As the story followed each woman, I was sucked into that singular story and felt “wow, yes... this is the story I want a full novel from” but then would get ripped away onto the next focus. The multiple viewpoints from different points in time is a big trend right now but honestly, it doesn’t usually do anything for me and it didn’t do anything for me here. I’m interested to read other takes on it but for me, it felt like the White Feminism “we are the daughters of the witches you couldn’t burn” quote made into an okay novel. Not bad but not the “gothic masterpiece” I had set myself up to expect.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with an e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Thank you Netgalley, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group and Evie Wyld for free e-ARC in return of my honest review. 

I was looking forward to read The Bass Rock, as the premise is very intriguing, however, I was a bit disappointed. Even though I loved the structure of the book, I was lost in the story and the characters. I saw how they must be entwined but I fail to understand the connection and the meaning of it all. I enjoyed some characters and believe they were very well developed, at the same time it was hard to understand their importance within the plot. I assumed it was character-based story at first, but it did not make sense and the plot played a very significant role too. At the end, I cannot say what the book was really about - was it about women abuse? Just abuse? Women power and strength to live through it all? Women supporting women? 

At the end, I assume it was all together, however, I cannot say I personally enjoyed the execution.
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The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld takes place over several hundred years. This is the story of three women: Sarah, Ruth and Vivianne. Young Sarah is being persecuted by men who suspect her of being a witch. Many years later, after the end of WWII, Ruth is newly married to a widower, has become the stepmother of two young boys and has relocated with her new family to an unfamiliar part of Great Britain. Sixty years later, upon Ruth’s death, Vivianne has been tasked with sorting through her house in order to put it on the market. All three storylines are linked in several ways but the main similarity is the way women are treated by the men in their lives. Nothing seems to have changed from the era of witchcraft to modern times. The Bass Rock presents the reader with three interesting and well-developed female roles. There is food for thought here. Highly recommended. Thank you to Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group and the author for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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DNF @ ~20% (just couldn’t get into it so please ignore the star rating). I enjoyed the writing but just wasn’t connecting the narrative threads and didn’t feel invested enough to want to read more.
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The Bass Rock is a story made up of three timelines all set on the coast of Scotland near a natural landmark called, you guessed it, the Bass Rock. The first timeline is contemporary, following Viviane who, almost forty years old and feeling unmoored, takes a job from her uncle to catalogue and pack the belongings from the family home, a large empty manor, so that it can be sold. The second timeline follows Ruth, recently married and the last real inhabitant of the manor, shortly after the end of WWII. The final timeline is during the time of the plague, told from the perspective of a village boy after his father takes in a young woman set to be burned as a witch. We aren't given an exact date of this timeline but you can make an educated guess given the subject matter.

The three timelines have more than one thing in common, notably grief and loss, and sexual violence and how it's changed—or rather hasn't changed—over the course of history. The most obvious commonality, however, is certainly the landscape itself, given that all the timelines are set, more or less, on the same plot of land. Being the shared element, the landscape becomes almost a character of its own. Its gray skies, perpetual damp and slow pace seep into every page and make for a wonderful atmosphere. And through the shared space, the characters of the past continue to haunt those in the present.

The overtones of sexual violence can make for a dark read but also provide a new frame for the, usually, female experience. One that considers the projection of others onto women and how antiquated attitudes toward female sexuality can seem rooted in the very ground around us, emerging in the present from the superstitions and hate of centuries past. The Bass Rock is more thought-provoking than your usual historical fiction, if you can even call it that, and the setting makes for a wonderful winter read.
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After multiple attempts it is unfortunate that I am unable to finish this book. I usually love a gothic tale, but I found myself unable to really sink into the story or the characters, it felt very slow paced and I just didn't look forward to picking this up - reading should never feel like a chore!
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I was drawn to this book by the name, reminding me of the huge outcrop in the sea off Dunbar. But unfortunately for me that was the best thing about it. At this time, it was too unremittingly bleak for me.
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