Jesse Marley calls herself a realist; she’s all about the here and now. But in the month before Charles and Diana’s wedding in 1981 all her certainties are blown aside by events she cannot control. First she finds out she’s adopted. Then she’s run down by a motor bike. In a London hospital, unable to speak, she must use her left hand to write. But Jesse’s right-handed. And as if her fingers have a will of their own, she begins to draw places she’s never been, people from another time—a castle, a man in armor. And a woman’s face.
Rory Brandon, Jesse’s neurologist, is intrigued. Maybe his patient’s head trauma has brought out latent abilities. But wait. He knows the castle. He’s been there.
So begins an extraordinary journey across borders and beyond time, a chase that takes Jesse to Hundredfield, a Scottish stronghold built a thousand years ago by a brutal Norman warlord. What’s more, Jesse Marley holds the key to the castle’s secret and its sacred history. And Hundredfield, with its grim Keep, will help Jesse find her true lineage. But what does the legend of the Lady of the Forest have to do with her? That’s the question at the heart of Wild Wood. There are no accidents. There is only fate.
Posie Graeme-Evans is the internationally bestselling author of five novels, including The Dressmaker and The Island House. She has worked in Australian film and television for the last thirty years as a director, commissioning executive and creator/producer of hundreds of hours of drama and children’s series, including the worldwide smash-hit McLeod’s Daughters and Daytime Emmy-nominated Hi-5. She lives in Tasmania with her husband and creative partner, Andrew Blaxland. www.posiegraemeevans.net
Interview with the Author:
Hi Posie, and thank you for dropping by on your Wild Wood Tour to discuss your father, Frank Graeme-Evans, and why he inspired you to write your latest novel. My family have a lot to do with what inspires me, so I thought it only appropriate that I ask you this very important question.
Angela, you’ve asked me a very interesting question: why was “Wild Wood”, my new book, dedicated to my father – and how much influence has he had on my writing?
The first answer is simple – and it’s not. It was about time because all my books (so far) have been dedicated to members of my family (and “Wild Wood” is my sixth novel.) It’s a chance to say to each of them, formally, how profoundly I love them and how grateful I am for all that I’ve been given.
But love, though it is profound always, is not simple. And it comes in many forms. My father was a complicated man but he was also a genuine warrior – a man, perhaps, from another time; I think there was a part of him that relished living on that sharp edge between life and death. He ran away to Europe to fight in 1939 like so many of his compatriots, at an age – 21 – when young men today are still behaving like adolescents and often treated like children. And he became a fighter pilot. Every day Frank got into his plane and expected he would not return; understood that, today, might be the day of his death. But Frank survived, and he came home where so many of the men, the boys, he knew did not.
My dad was not a story teller – that was my mother (she was a novelist too) – but in the character of Bayard de Dieudonné in “Wild Wood” I feel there’s a glimpse of the young man he was, going off to war. He’s there in Maugris, as well. But not Godefroi. Godefroi has no honour and he’s hard. My father might have been a hard man, and tough, but he was honourable in his behaviour. And he had a favourite saying, one that really does influence me when I think about what it must have been like to live that life in war: “Never trust a sword to a man who can’t dance.”
To me, unpacking the layers of those words, there’s the obvious: you have to move like a dancer, or “dance” in the Muhamed Ali sense, to fight with a sword. Yes. True. But there’s also the Bushido-like aspect: the perfect warrior can fight and write poetry equally well, and dance gracefully in his elegant clothes. That’s present in the code of Chivalry too, developed in C13th France. But a warrior remains, in the end, a man who is trained to kill and has the courage or the controlled rage to actually take another person’s life.
But just as love has many aspects, so too does destruction; and the cruelty that rides in its train.
There’s psychic death as well as physical death. The corporate world, for instance, breeds sociopaths who’ll scale the siege ladder to the executive suite equipped with different, invisible weapons. Pitiless, remorseless, conscienceless, lies are their knives, and narcissism the poison of choice. My father could not stand the corporate world. He had the directness of a child and would not play those humiliating, dominance games. Those aspects of his personality found their way into “Bear” in The Island House.
However an aristocratic code such as chivalry will often have empathy for its own kind but despise those who stand outside their gilded world; peasants, for instance – those whose labour pays for the wonderful weapons, the glorious clothes. Godefroi, in “Wild Wood” is the other face of that kind of warrior. The one who destroys people by starving them of what they need: the slow death dealt out with no mercy or compassion, when a man, or a woman, has outlived their usefulness to the master. Again, my father had no time for such people. He was, in his way, profoundly democratic and merciful.
So yes, because I seem to write about war so much, my father is there in my head and in parts of the male characters I write. I hope he’d be pleased he’s at the front of “Wild Wood”. I am.
By Angela S. Walton
Hundredfield! Does it exist? It just has to, somewhere.
Posie Graeme-Evans’ description of Hundredfield castle is painted so vividly in my mind that it now breathes a life of its own…
I just love how the author managed to weave back and forth through time in such a way that it never lost connection with the reader. What link could Hundredfield, built in 1068 by a brutal Norman warlord, possibly have with the young Jesse Marley, who lives almost one thousand years later in the year 1981? Jesse has travelled all the way from Australia to England to find her birth mother. When she is struck down by a motorcyclist, her quest takes a back seat, or so it seems.
Bed ridden with severe head trauma and her right arm in a sling, Jesse is right handed but must try to communicate with her left hand. When the young neurologist Dr Rory Brandon discovers pictures drawn perfectly in Jesse’s left hand, Jesse has no recollection of ever drawing them. Truth be told, she can’t even draw. The pictures of people from another time and a tower brooding over a castle are the least familiar to Jesse, but not to Dr Brandon. In fact, he knows this castle well.
What prompts Rory to start hypnotising Jesse from her pictures alone? Why is it imperative that he take his patient all the way to the Scottish border? Is Jesse prepared to play a part in the unravelling of hidden truths imposed by such a mysterious and magical place and its surrounds? What is her connection to the lady of the Forest? And most of all, will she ever find the one person she has come all this way to meet?
Although I was unfamiliar with Norman warlord history, I was indeed fascinated by the clever way Posie used this as the effective backdrop to the storyline. The characters held their presence well. I even found myself googling and educating myself about the Normans and how they came to be. For a novel of over four hundred pages, I found Wild Wood an entertaining read. When I thought I had the story worked out, there was a twist around certain corners that had me scratching my head until the very end. Well done Posie and well researched. Although I may never have the opportunity to travel to England and Scotland, my mother’s birth place, you certainly took me there for a time, and I thank you. Off to the library to borrow another of Posie’s books, and looking forward to getting lost in future books written by the author.
Please visit the following sites and follow Posie on her Wild Wood Blog Tour:
http://www.carpelibrum.net/ 24th of March
http://turnersantics.blogspot.com.au/ 31st March
http://rowenaholloway.com/ 3rd of April
http://1girl2manybooks.wordpress.com/ 10th April
http://writenotereviews.com/ 13th of April