1933. Cornelia Stover is headstrong and business-minded – not the kind of woman the men of Boldville, New Mexico, expect her to be. Then she stumbles upon a secret hidden out in the hills . . .
1970. Decades later, Joanna Riley, a former cop, packs up her car in the middle of the night and drives west, fleeing an abusive marriage and a life she can no longer bear. Eventually, she runs out of gas and finds herself in Boldville, a sleepy desert town in the foothills of the Gila Mountains.
Joanna was looking for somewhere to retreat, to hide, but something is off about this place. In a commune on the outskirts a young man has been found dead and Joanna knows a cover up when she sees it. Soon, she and Glitter, a young, disaffected hippie, find themselves caught up in a dark mystery that goes to the very heart of Boldville, where for too long people have kept their eyes shut and turned their heads away. A mystery that leads them all the way back to the unexplained disappearance of Glitter’s grandmother Cornelia forty years before . . .
A captivating, atmospheric new novel from the lauded author of The Long, Long Afternoon, This Wild, Wild Country simmers with secrets, lies and terrible betrayal, unravelling the lives of three women at the mercy of their times.
Hi and welcome to my review of This Wild, Wild Country!
There I was, I had sworn to myself I would not be accepting any more ARCs this summer and then Anne Cater at Random Things Tours waved This Wild, Wild Country at me. Having thoroughly enjoyed The Long, Long Afternoon on Audible, how could I possibly refuse early access to Inga Vesper’s second novel?
Well here we are, I couldn’t and I have no regrets whatsoever cos I had an absolutely fantastic time with This Wild, Wild Country.
This Wild, Wild Country takes us to a small town in the New Mexico desert, with three protagonists telling the story in a dual timeline. In 1933, Cornelia is no spring chicken but she’s plucky and tenacious and no man (or woman for that matter) will tell her what to do. Almost forty years later, everyone in town still talks of mad Cornelia, the Indian she associated with, her mysterious disappearance. Her granddaughter Glitter is just as scrappy as she was. Tired of conformity and capitalism, Glitter is a flower power girl, looking for peace, love and freedom, but lately she’s been having this funky feeling, like things are not as groovy as she first thought. Our third protagonist is Joanna, an outsider who inadvertently ends up in the thick of things but is perhaps best suited to see things clearly in this dusty little town.
This Wild, Wild Country takes its reader to two very interesting time periods in American history. From the aftermath of the gold rush to the hippie movement, I can’t say I was very familiar with either and I felt that I learnt quite a few things along the way. For example, I had never considered that the idea of free love might be harmful to women in the hippie community, but Glitter’s story made me reconsider. Abuse and domestic violence are definitely a theme, as well patriarchal condescension, but the manner in which our female main characters deal with it all is admirable and despite the heavy themes, This Wild, Wild Country did not feel like a heavy read.
Let’s not beat about the bush further: I bloody loved everything about this novel! I had pretty high expectations but they were exceeded. The atmospheric small town setting, the Zeitgeist that was rendered so well, the well-rounded characters, the intriguing mystery, the satisfying ending, the evocative writing, … I could go on and on, but why don’t you just find out for yourself? Need I say it? Highly recommended!
This Wild, Wild Country is out now in digital formats, hardcover and audio.
Massive thanks to Bonnier Books UK (Manilla Press) and Random Things Tours for the chance to join the tour! All opinions are my own.