2007: 60. The World My Wilderness

“The villa, facing south, stood above the little town and port, on the slope between the sea and the Foret de Sorede.”

The World My Wilderness - Rose Macauley

I bought this book because it was a Virago Modern Classic, started out bored by it, and ended up thinking it was pretty interesting.  The book is set in 1946,  in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War.  It starts in Southern France, where an English girl named Barbara Deniston (called Barbary) has spent the war running amok with the resistance and the maquis, while her divorced mother has been happily living with her collaborator husband.  Now that the was is over, Barbary’s posh father wants her to come back to England, and take her place in society.  However, Barbary has no understanding of boring, placid English life after her wild times in France, and the novel details her attempts to make sense of her life in England.

The book was a mixed bag.  The main character is extremely unsympathetic - she is a feral wild child, who has no sense at all.  The book is better when dealing with her divorced parents, or her wry brother who stayed in England.   However, it is an interesting portrait of the post-war years, touching on a topic that isn’t too often discussed, i.e. how hard it would be to return to “normalcy” after the upheaval of war, particularly being occupied.  The book isn’t great art, but that aspect of it was thought provoking enough to make it worth while.

Recommeded for:  People interested in post-WWII England or France, and how people went back to their ordinary lives; people who like novels with dry and brittle 1930’s divorced characters. 


Date/Place Completed: 4/27/07*, D.C.

Categories:  Fiction, Virago Modern Classics


*My list has gotten a little out of order, because I needed to return some library books.  Free books is worth disorder, don’t you think??

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017