The World My Wilderness Paperback – 15 Jan 1988
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'Poignant and inspiring' Sunday Telegraph 'A wonderfully compassionate observation of human nature. No one can better describe the emotions of guilt and jealousy, or so exactly remember how it feels to be seventeen' Catholic Herald
* A classic writer with the mordant wit of Elizabeth Bowen and Evelyn Waugh
* Macaulay's most sophisticated novel explores the spiritual dilemmas of the postwar world
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Top Customer Reviews
Deeply affected by their exciting, peripheral activities with the Maquis in France the children become naughty and wicked, adept at pulling the wool over adults' eyes. In London, where they are sent to be supposedly smartened up and civilised, they ingenuously slip through the cracks of normality; lying, stealing and searching for their lost happiness in France where they were wild and free. Assuming things were the same in blitzed London as in France, they endanger their lives by living out a totally secret existence in an underworld peopled by deserters and small-time criminals at loose in the bombed-out sites of London.
Barbary tortures herself throughout with the guilty knowledge of her step father's drowning in France, carried out by the Maquis, which she could have prevented. In her soul she knows she let her father down.
This is a touching, atmospheric tale of a precocious seventeen-year-old lost in the world of adults and still needing the reassurances of childhood. It is today a possibly rather dated picture that can nevertheless still be related to those `young-at-sea' in our own - far from perfect - 21st Century.
Were all the collaborators bad and the Maquis always justified in the murders they committed?
Is adultery always to be condemned? What dark deeds haunt the heroine so much that she obsesses about Hell?
The heroine is a damaged young girl whose mother kept her in Vichy France during the War and then sends her back to her father - a thoroughly upper class Judge in bombed out London.
It is, as other reviewers have said both tragic and comic, but mainly it is Macaulay recording a unique time and place. - It captures exactly the same time and place that Muriel Spark did in Girls of Slender Means - but Spark wrote years later with hindsight. Macaulay wrote at the time about what she saw.