TITLE: THE WILDING
AUTHOR: MARIA McCANN
Details: Historical Fiction
Set in England in 1672, a generation after the civil war, this book tells the story of Jonathan Dymond, a young cider maker. When the book starts, Jonathan's father is called from their home to the deathbed of his brother, Robin. He arrives too late though, Robin has already died and when he returns home, Jonathan's father is obviously burdened by something.
Jonathan finds a fragment of a letter from his uncle to his father in the latter's coat pocket which hints at an injustice to be put right and an inheritance. Curious and haunted by nightmares about his uncle, Jonathan travels to his aunts house, and under the guise of helping her with her apple harvest and cider making starts investigating what his uncle may have meant. A decision that will reveal family secrets and puts both Jonathan's future happiness and life in danger.
Even though Jonathan is in his twenties when the story starts, this is a sort of coming of age story. Jonathan, who has lead a sheltered life with his loving parents, suddenly finds himself exposed to hatred, cruelty and deceit, things he is ill equipped to deal with. By the end of the story, little will be left of Jonathan's innocence and although he's certainly wiser, he doesn't appear any happier for all he has learned along the way.
This was an interesting story, but it failed to captivate me. Although I didn't find it hard to read this book, I also found it very easy to put the book down and never really felt a need to go back to it. I could have done with less of the detailed descriptions of cider making.
On the other hand, I think this story was very true to the time it was set in. Nowhere did the author try to romanticise the period or the events taking place. My overall conclusion has to be that this is a well written, solid story that will probably be enjoyed by anyone who likes historical fiction.