The World My Wilderness by Rose Macaulay was first published in 1950, her second last novel with The Towers of Trebizond being her last.
The book begins in post war France at the Villa Fraises where Maurice Michel had lived with his English wife, but Maurice had drowned and as the rumours were that he had been a collaborator it’s assumed that the maquis had dealt with him in retribution. Maurice’s step-daughter Barbary had been on the fringes of the maquis (French Resistance) along with his son Raoul and they had led a fairly wild life dodging the Gestapo and causing mayhem whenever they could. The end of the war hasn’t made much a of a difference to their behaviour.
Barbary had been very close to her mother Helen but since the birth of a son to her and Maurice she’s not really interested in her teenage daughter and decides to pack Barbary off to her father who lives in London. Barbary is appalled at the thought of going there and living with her father and step-mother, but she settles down to life there in her own way, enjoying the many bomb sites and continuing to kick against any authority, and embarking on a career as a shoplifter.
As Barbary’s father is a high flying lawyer she’s a real liability to him, she’s not going to fit into his upper middle-class London society, but she can’t cope with the ruffians of London either.
There are various wildernesses in this book which moves from rural France to the Highlands of Scotland then to the bomb sites of London, and also the wilderness that a family can be when it’s torn apart and re-made in a different guise.
I think the only other book by the author I’ve read is The Towers of Trebizond and I enjoyed that one more with its quirky characters and humour.