Thank you to Anne and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to be a part of the blog tour for This Wild, Wild Country and for sending me a proof copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Three women. An isolated town. A decades-old mystery.
They hate me down there, in Boldville. I can read it in their eyes, smell it on their noxious breaths. That dreaded little town hates everything about me: not just my personality and form, the clothes I wear, but the way I think.
The things that I know.
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 . . .
This Wild, Wild Country is an adventurous, compelling and unusual novel, featuring a string of brilliant female characters.
The story is told alternatively through Cornelia, Glitter and Joanna’s perspective. The location and date is initially written below so you know where and when they are in time. I found this assisted in the first introductions and I immediately grasped the characters differences. Each one has a very distinctive tone of voice and so it was easy to recall the situations and personalities etc. between chapters from the outset.
Glitter and Joanna’s separate, but combined timeline, make for an extensive view on the present day happenings in Boldville. Told from Glitter as a resident and Joanna as an outsider, and former cop-turned-investigator. The dynamic from the two seems like it shouldn’t work but it really does.
The friendship that develops between Joanna and Glitter, plus some of her hippie commune friends and relatives, is surprising yet also works so well. The two form a really great team and definitely show what being more open minded can occur. They both worked together and helped each other out across the board and it made for great reading.
Cornelia’s story provides the ‘origins’ and mentions some of the older characters when they were younger. The backstory provides history and combines the two timelines really nicely. Her voice is interspersed with her diary entries which create a fuller picture of her life. Her expedition is told through both means, fast forwarding through and also detailing parts accordingly.
Inga Vesper writes so well and I truly felt part of the narrative. Being immersed in America in both the 1930s and 1970s, particularly the latter and the hippie movement. Neither period being one I’m particularly knowledgeable on, and neither was I born, yet I feel like I was part of what was happening in Boldville. It felt like a lesson in history but also a wonderful story with great characters. The ‘baddies’ were perfectly bad and the ‘goodies’ were complete crime and justice fighting good.
The societal pressures and social injustice towards women, groups and racial minorities were unquestionably felt. The novel is filled with emotion and subtle, yet accurate, era related issues. At times these are extremely difficult and some tough topics are covered in a tactful manner, such as sexual assault and domestic violence.
The community really felt realistic and the characters truly believable. The divide between them is really well articulated and I thoroughly enjoyed the differing opinions and clashing of heads.
This Wild, Wild Country is out now from Manilla Press. You can purchase a copy using the link below, and also help to support independent bookstores.
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Until next time,