Friday, March 5, 2010

The Wilding

I've just finished The Wilding, Maria McCann's second book. It is set later in the seventeenth century than As Meat Loves Salt, and is a much more closely confined story. A young, rather naive, travelling cider maker becomes curious about secrets in his family's past, and, as he presses the harvest crop in neighbouring villages, makes shocking discoveries. There's an element of melodrama about McCann's work, but she writes so vividly, and has such a sure historical touch (without any fake archaism) that you absorb it without too much protest. As in her earlier novel, McCann is able to manipulate an almost intolerable sense of anxiety and claustrophobia. But how quickly you turn the pages! As Meat Loves Salt is probably the more original of her works, but this one, steeped in the sweet, heady draughts of fermenting fruit, is a delicious read. Be warned: the front cover is dreadful and suggests a really cheesy romantic read. I kept it well hidden when reading the book in public.