Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Wilding by Maria McCann

The Wilding by Maria McCann
First published by Faber and Faber in 2010 (this edition by Faber and Faber in 2010)

Description (from Goodreads)
Jonathan Dymond, a 26-year old cider-maker in post-Civil War England, has enjoyed a quiet, harmonious existence until a letter arrives from his uncle with a request to speak with his father. When his father returns from the visit the next day, all he can say is that Jonathan's uncle has died. Then Jonathan finds a fragment of the letter, with talk of inheritance and vengeance...

My thoughts
The Wilding is a rather odd book. Set in England in the 17th century, a few years after the Civil War, the story begins by introducing us to Jonathan Dymond, a young cider maker. Right at the beginning of the novel, Jonathan and his family find out that Jonathan's uncle Robin is not well, so his father hastens to his bedside. But, because of the fact that he chooses to go on foot, by the time he reaches the nearby village (where Robin and his wife live), it is already too late. Soon after that, Jonathan finds a fragment of a letter in one of his father's pockets, which perplexes him and makes him want to pursue the matter and find out exactly what is going on. So, he uses the cider-making as an excuse to stay at his aunt's house and find out what exactly has been going on.

The story features the practice of cider making as a means to developing the story, seeing as Jonathan uses it as an excuse to get into his aunt's household. Which I thought was a rather original idea. I have never read anything about cider (I haven't even tasted cider, which is really quite irrelevant here) and I found the information about cider-making rather fascinating (in a learning stuff kind-of way).

The characters in this book are very well developed. We come to understand the motives behind most of the character's actions and to sympathise (or not) with them. Jonathan is a very well thought out character and serves as an excellent main character, through whom we see the whole story develop.

As for the story, it was truly excellent. There were many points in the novel that completely surprised me. I wasn't sure what I was expecting to happen while I was reading the chapters, but then, suddenly, came a revelation which I just did not expect. It's one of the things I really like in books; not being able to guess what is going to happen in the next few pages.

All in all, The Wilding is an excellent historical fiction book. It's not a very heavy read (not at all heavy, in my opinion) and is very well thought out, if a little ''creepy'' (for want of a better word) at times. A book that is definitely worth reading!

Rating: 8/10

Maria McCann is an English novelist. She was born in Liverpool and has been working as a lecturer in English at Strode College in Somerset for many years. The Wilding is her second novel, the first being As Meat Loves Salt, which is set during the English Civil War.

Read for the: 100 Books In A Year Challenge 2011

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