Welcome to today’s stop, which is also the final stop, on the blog tour for Wild Spinning Girls by Carol Lovekin. Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Honno Press for my review copy.
About the Book
If it wasn’t haunted before she came to live there, after she died, Ty’r Cwmwl made room for her ghost. She brought magic with her. And the house, having held its breath for years, knew it.
Ida Llewellyn loses her job and her parents in the space of a few weeks and, thrown completely off course, she sets out for the Welsh house her father has left her. Ty’r Cwmwl is not at all welcoming despite the fact it looks inhabited, as if someone just left…
It is being cared for as a shrine by the daughter of the last tenant. Determined to scare off her old home’s new landlord, Heather Esyllt Morgan sides with the birds who terrify Ida and plots to evict her. The two girls battle with suspicion and fear before discovering that the secrets harboured by their thoughtless parents have grown rotten with time. Their broken hearts will only mend once they cast off the house and its history, and let go of the keepsakes that they treasure like childhood dreams.
Format: ebook, paperback (288 pages) Publisher: Honno Press
Publication date: 20th February 2020 Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Find Wild Spinning Girls on Goodreads
“There is a fierceness in young women: the wild spinning girls made of loss and grief and their mothers’ best dreams.”
The author creates a really interesting dynamic between the two main characters who seem, at first sight, to be poles apart. City girl Ida, a self-confessed ‘stranger to spontaneity’ and ‘the last woman in the world to act on impulse’ suddenly finds herself alone in the isolated house she has inherited from her father. “It was as though she’d landed in someone else’s life.” She’s not used to everyone knowing her business, viewing the interest of the inhabitants of the nearest village with suspicion.
Whilst Heather roams the moors with no need of a map, Ida finds herself lost within minutes. “Ida had little faith in her sense of direction because she’d never needed it. Where she came from, streets were marked, buses knew the way and until now she’d always been surrounded by familiarity. Out on the moor, as far as the eye could see, there were no landmarks to steer a course by…” Similarly, Ida views the black birds that roost around the house as an ominous presence, whilst Heather considers them guardians. And where Ida sees the clouds that dominate the sky as bleak, Heather sees them as infused with colour.
Although both women have recently lost their mothers, it doesn’t bring them together. “Neither of them had anything the other wanted. Even their grief was different.” Heather’s visits to Ty’r Cwmwl are a way of trying to retain a connection to her mother. Conversely, Ida searches for any trace of her mother in the house and finds instead only the lingering and unearthly presence of Heather’s mother. “The ghost of the wrong mother haunted Cloud House.”
I liked the skilful way the author creates a brooding atmosphere through the descriptions of both the landscape surrounding Ty’r Cwmwl and the house itself. For example, the way in which the coming of night, seen from Ida’s perspective, seems almost physically to envelop the house. “Dusk fell, unreliable and redolent with things half-imagined.” Similarly, we have dark ‘devouring’ the house and night ‘clamouring’ at the window.” In these circumstances, I think even the most sceptical might start to consider the presence of something supernatural. “Everything – the narrow lanes, the isolation, the relentless cloud and the wild black birds – leant itself to notions of ghosts.” Ah yes, those black birds that perch in the trees surrounding the house. Shades of Daphne du Maurier’s The Birds, I think.
The two young women gradually learn, to their surprise (but I have to say not to this reader’s), that they have more in common than they might have imagined – or desired. As Ida says, “Our lives have collided and it’s not our fault; it’s a mess.” Perhaps, though, they can both find ways to honour the memories, hopes and dreams of their mothers that require no magic.
Wild Spinning Girls is a thoughtful, well-crafted story about coming to terms with change and loss, and embracing the future.
In three words: Intimate, atmospheric, insightful