Published by Headline Review
Available in ebook and Paperback (5 April 2018)
Source: ARC review copy
Harriet Evans is a favourite author and I’m delighted to be taking part in the publisher blog tour to celebrate publication of The Wildflowers. Congratulations to Harriet, because this has recently been announced as a Richard and Judy Book Club Summer Read for 2018.
My thanks to Headline for the paperback proofs and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in the tour.
| About the Book |
Tony and Althea Wilde. Glamorous, argumentative … adulterous to the core.
They were my parents, actors known by everyone. They gave our lives love and colour in a house by the sea – the house that sheltered my orphaned father when he was a boy.
But the summer Mads arrived changed everything. She too had been abandoned and my father understood why. We Wildflowers took her in.
My father was my hero, he gave us a golden childhood, but the past was always going to catch up with him … it comes for us all, sooner or later.
This is my story. I am Cordelia Wilde. A singer without a voice. A daughter without a father. Let me take you inside.
| My Thoughts |
Oh my goodness. What a complex and damaged family the Wildes are. The Wildflowers is an epic family drama, spanning several decades, from 1940 to 2015. Set mainly in Dorset and London, it tells the story of a family gradually being torn apart by actions from the past.
Anthony and Althea Wilde are well known and respected actors, Tony more so, as he is considerably older than Althea. To say that he gets around, is putting it mildly! His long suffering wife Althea is well aware of his affairs, although she is guilty of the odd indiscretion too. Their children, Benedick (Ben) and Cordelia (Cord) initially have an idyllic childhood, spending their holidays at the family’s holiday home the ‘Bosky’ on the Dorset coast. The Bosky is actually a character in its own right – over the decades it plays host to every main drama and event in the Wilde’s lives.
The story moves between time frames constantly, one moment we are in the 1940s with Tony as a young child orphaned during the war and then we could be in the 1970s. Although I sometimes found this a little frustrating (only because I was taken away from a timeline and desperately wanted to know what happened next!) it was easy to follow and having this structure built up a complete picture of all the Wildes – flaws and all.
The book is a rather impressive 544 pages, and although my proof copy was only a few pages shy of this, I was stressing as to whether I would finish it in time for today’s blog tour post (I actually finished it last night) but for all its length, it is a thoroughly engrossing story and one which I never got bored with.
There are some fabulous characters to get to know, Tony’s eccentric Great-Aunt Dinah (who I think was my favourite) and her rather creepy friend Daphne. The Wildes themselves of course – the parents so self obsessed and apparently unaware of the torment their children are suffering and also, the neighbours at the Dorset home, in particular Madeleine Fletcher. Madeleine is a very unhappy and rather feral 7 year old child when she first comes across the Wildes and her infiltration into their life will have a huge impact on all of them. Madeleine is obsessed with the family and keeps an exercise book hidden away in which she diligently records every aspect of the family’s life during their visits each year, including noting what they wore and overhead conversations. I initially found this quite disturbing and more than a little stalkerish. Interspersed throughout are extracts from Madeleine’s book and its through these that we see the real Madeleine.
I am deliberately trying to keep this review as vague as possible, it really is such a sweeping story encompassing events and reactions that to give away spoilers would be unforgivable.
There are secrets, indiscretions and betrayals galore in this story. I enjoyed it very much. If you’re looking for a book that you can fully immerse yourself with vividly drawn and convincing characters, then look no further.
If you need another incentive to buy this book, the Kindle version can currently be downloaded from Amazon UK for just 99p.
| Author Bio |
I live in London with my partner and our two daughters. I love books. We all love books in fact. My favourite authors are Elizabeth Jane Howard, Rosamunde Pilcher, Dorothy Whipple, Nancy Mitford and of course Georgette Heyer. OF COURSE. His favourite books are non-fiction ones about the Second World War and obscure medicine, Ursula Le Guin, Richard Feynmann, Brian Aldiss. The 6 year old likes Tom Gates, Clarice Bean, Katie Morag, and Daisy and the Trouble with… The one-nearly-two year old likes Each Peach Pear Plum, Alfie, Mog, and Maisie, and also lying down on the floor screaming if you hand her a spoon the wrong way or if her cup isn’t blue, etc.
The books I love are ones that take you into a different world and wholly absorb you, about families and secrets and magical places. I write the books I want to read, that’s the most important thing of all. I LOVED writing The Wildflowers as it is mostly set in Dorset by the sea, one of my favourite places in the world. I really hope you enjoy it if you get the chance to read it. If you’d like to get in touch I’d love to hear from you. Please visit my website: http://www.harriet-evans.com/
I was fortunate enough to have been sent an early proof of The Wildflowers by Headline a few months ago before receiving the proof with the final cover. Both covers are stunning and its hard to choose a favourite!