Nine years on from her well-received debut As Meat Loves Salt, Maria McCann returns to the Civil War years with an intimate portrait of rural family life.
Young cider-maker, Jonathan Dymond, enjoys a quiet life travelling between villages, offering the services of his new-fangled press. But when he receives a letter from his dying uncle hinting at inheritance disputes, he feels under pressure to unearth the truth of his claims.
As in her previous work, McCann re-creates a convincing historical setting, further embellished with home-brewed poetry of her own.
Jonathan's sour-tongued aunt Harriet proves a well-drawn villainess, while the "wilding" of the title ("a bastard tree sprung up without planting") offers clues to romantic betrayals as "old as Eden".