The Cunning Woman's Cup
by Sue Hewitt
When Alice McCleish's gardener Brian unearths an object of great archaeological significance deep under the compost heap it is not only Alice and her burgeoning friendship with Margaret Allerton, retired Professor of Anthropology, that are affected: the family, friends and neighbours of Alice, who people the narrative, are also touched by subsequent events. Alice and Margaret find themselves questioning long-held beliefs about the material and spiritual world that surrounds them; and both women find their lives transformed unalterably by their newfound companionship. Serendipity puts Alice's nearest neighbour, the troubled Violet Turnbull, in touch with the enigmatic Avian Tyler, whose mystical 'gift' offers Violet a promise of liberation. All the while an echoing voice from long, long ago hints at the history of the locality dominated by the standing stone circle that bestrides the skyline above the small community of Duddo, while charting the harrowing story that reveals the provenance of the artefacts found beneath the compost heap.
My Review of
The Cunning Woman's Cup
The characters are fleshed out well, with lines such as "Hand me my teeth". In one scene, a strange woman walks by a rural area and the characters ponder if she's a salesperson or a Jehovah's Witness. Some of the dialogue in this scene made me chuckle a bit, just because the dialogue and characters seemed to real. How would characters in a small area react to seeing a newbie? Just as they did. Another aspect I really enjoyed was the preamble at the beginning of each chapter. They told scenes of the past which created a bit of intrigue. Who are these people? How is this related to these characters? The story of the past tackled some real issues, even from the start. The story is written in a third person, past tense which I truly enjoy and I believe allows it to flow better.
The only criticism I can give is that there is a lot of narrative and description, which might be too much for some readers and just perfect for others. I was expecting the cup to be found as per the synopsis and the other reviews. However, because this is a character driven book, the cup is not found until chapter seven. Those who like to get straight to the plot might be a little disappointed by this.
Overall, this book had a diverse cast of characters, each having their own traits and story, with an in depth look into the minds of the characters. By using letters written by one character to another, we have a unique look into the relationships and interactions of the characters. This book is listed on Amazon at over 400 pages but I finished it in three sittings.