‘This is a novel of secrets and revenge within a seventeenth-century English family. Longlisted for the Orange Prize 1672. A generation after the Civil War, Jonathan Dymond, a cider maker, has so far enjoyed a quiet life. But when he discovers a letter from his dying uncle, hinting an inheritance and revenge, he is determined to unravel the mystery in his family. Under the pretence of his cider business, Jonathan visits his newly widowed aunt and there meets her unruly servant girl, Tamar, who soon reveals that she has secrets of her own…’
I purchased The Wilding because I have seen it around rather a lot lately, and one of my favourite bloggers (Jane at Beyond Eden Rock) gave it a four-star rating. For me, <i>The Wilding</i> was rather a slow starter. After reading many of the reviews of McCann’s <i>As Meat Like Salt</i>, I was expecting that her prose would blow me away, but I was left a little disappointed by it. There was nothing wrong with her writing, per se, but it just didn’t tick many boxes for me.
Oddly, there was no real sense of history for the most part; I felt as though the story could have easily been transplanted into almost any place or time period without many of the details having to be altered. I ultimately found the story very hard to connect with. Generally when reading historical novels I feel swept away at points, but I did not have that experience here. The relationship between Jonathan and his parents felt too close for this period too; they were forever smothering him and making loving physical contact, which is far removed from the historical realism which I’ve read in and around this period to date.
There is little vividness in the sparse descriptions given, and so little depth to the whole. At no point did I feel compelled to keep reading, and could happily have given up on it and moved on to another tome at any point. There was no real consistency in <i>The Wilding</i>, and whilst it isn’t an awful novel by any means, it’s not one which I would recommend. The pace was rather slow, and the plot twists predictable. I am left with rather a disappointed feeling.