Weyward by Emilia Hart

It is no longer an unusual structure in historical fiction to tell the stories of people linked across time but this one is particularly well done. It tells of the Weyward women: Altha from 1619, Violet from 1942 and Kate in current times. Each woman has used the house called Weyward as a refuge and each is linked by family.

The tree stories tell of women who are abused by men and who each have a special gift of communing with and summoning nature to their aid and to exact a rough type of justice.

Altha, whose mother has died, is accused of witchcraft when her best friend’s husband is killed by his stampeding cows. He is a brutal husband who beats his wife on a daily basis and Altha can no longer stand by and watch it. Weyward is her home.

It has been a hot summer: the hottest in decades, my nother said. We roamed all over the village and splashed through the beck, and, once we tired of that, stolen away to the cooler air of the fells. There we’d found slopes and crags wreathed with heather and mist. We’d climbed so high that Grace said she could see France. . . At that moment, an osprey screamed overhead. I looked up to watch it fly, the sun tipping its wings with silver. Grace took my hand in hers, and a feeling of lightness spread through me, as though I too was soaring through the clouds.


Violet is raped by Frederick, a visiting cousin, back on R and R from the war. When it is discovered that she is pregnant she is banished to the fallen down cottage Weyward and refuses to move back to the big house once it is all over. Her father then disinherits Violet and her brother and everything passes to Frederick, chosen by their father to be the beneficiary of his death. Violet summons mayflies and other insects to live in the walls of the house and these drive him crazy until he is removed to a Home.

Her mother. This house belonged to her mother. Violet touched her necklace, tracing the W engraved on the pendant. The Weywards. Her mother’s family, she could be sure of it now.


Kate is left the cottage by her Aunt Violet who she never really knew. She uses it as her place to escape from a controlling and physically abusive husband when she is pregnant. Whilst there, she discovers her her ability to commune with nature and when her husband eventually finds her through a slip up with an email address, she summons them to attack and drive him away.

Kate has been at the cottage for three weeks now. It’s late spring , and the year is ripening. It rained last night – hard enough that she feared the roof would buckle – but today the sky is low and blue, the air hot. Hot and thick to match her blood, which seems in these last few weeks, to have slowed its pace through her veins.


The book is pacy and quite a page turner with all of the female characters very believable and likeable with me rooting for the men to be on the rough end of the stick. I think it is true to say that it is only the men who are villanous and in quite simplistic ways so that it is not difficult to predict what will happen to them, making this a feminist retelling of a story that is as old as time.

Nature and the Cumbrian countryside were described well, and this made it possible to ‘see’ the place where these stories occurred. Nature is often invoked in tales of witchcraft or strong women, and this book is no exception. There are also secret places, hidden keys and old documents to find. It’s all in there.

I am a Weyward and wild inside.

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