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The World My Wilderness

Rose Macaulay

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Fiction, Classic fiction (pre c 1945)

Macaulay's most sophisticated novel explores the spiritual dilemmas of the postwar world. One of the most evocative novels of London immediately after the Second World War.

It is 1946 and the people of France and England are facing the aftermath of the War. Sent by her beautiful, indolent mother to England, Barbary Deniston is thrown into the care of her distinguished father and conventional stepmother. Barbary has spent her childhood years in the sunshine of Provence. During the War, she ran wild with the Maquis, experiencing collaboration, betrayal and resistance. In peacetime the young woman has been taken away from all she knows and placed into the drab austerity of postwar London life.

Confused and unhappy, she discovers the flowering bomb craters around St Paul's Cathedral. Here, in the bombed heart of London, with the outcasts living on the edge of society, she finds an echo of the wilderness of Provence and is forced to confront the wilderness within herself.

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Rose Macaulay

Rose Macaulay (1881-1958) was born in Rugby, Warwickshire. She studied Modern History at Somerville College, Oxford and wrote her first novel, Abbots Verney in 1906. She was introduced to the London literary scene by her childhood friend Rupert Brooke, and her friends included Ivy Compton-Burnett, Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, Rosamond Lehmann and Elizabeth Bowen. Macaulay became celebrated writer who published over thirty works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry in her lifetime, including Crewe Train and The World My Wilderness. She won the James Tait Black Memorial prize for her final novel, The Towers of Trebizond (1956) and was awarded the DBE in 1957.