Review published on March 13, 2017.
The childhood that Clover and her siblings enjoyed was a relaxing one, growing up in the country whilst surrounded by horses and the beautiful hills outside Oxford. This idyllic upbringing was brought to an abrupt end in November 1991 when the headteacher interrupted her history class and asked her to step outside. It was then she learnt that her mother had been involved in an ‘incident’. She had fallen from a horse and was seriously injured; just how serious would soon become apparent.
Clover’s life would never be the same again.
This first loss of her mother, the hub and heart of the family, would fracture their lives from that moment onwards. Clover sought solace in friends, lovers and drugs. The search for comfort would take her across to Ireland, to the vast ranches of Texas as a cowgirl and finally to the arms of another lover from the splintered Caucasus regions before she wends her way home to the Vale of the White Horse. She settles and raises a family, with all the ups and downs that this entails. Her mother’s condition slowly worsens as she then deals with her own crisis.
Reading this book is a raw and painful experience. Her turbulent life after her mother’s accident forms the woman she is to become: strong, independent, vulnerable and delicate. She endures the juxtaposition of knowing exactly what she wants, without always knowing the direction in which that she is heading. Clover is very open about her personal life, going into a fair amount of detail at times, not looking for judgement or approval, just being honest about what happened. The landscape where they lived is her anchor when dealing with all that life throws at her and it is something that she returns to during all the different stages of her life. I was hoping for more of the natural world and her interaction with it. It would have lifted this from a good to a great book. It’s still worth reading though as she writes with a clarity and honesty that you don’t often get.
Paul Cheney 3/3
The Wild Other: A Memoir by Clover Stroud
Hodder & Stoughton 9781473630215 hbk Feb 2017
Longlisted for the Wainwright Book Prize 2017 – find out more and read an extract
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