Wild Wood by Posie Graeme-Evans
Atria Books, 2015. ISBN 9781476743615
(Age: 15 - Adult) Recommended for readers who enjoy time slip stories. When Jesse Marley discovers that she is adopted she is determined to go to the United Kingdom to find the place where she was born and uncover the secrets surrounding her birth. In London in the month before Prince Charles and Diana's wedding she is hit by a motor bike and taken to hospital. Unable to speak she begins to draw a castle she has never seen, a man in armour and faces of people she doesn't know. Her neurologist Rory Brandon is intrigued as he recognises the castle and together they travel to Hundredfield, a mediaeval stronghold which had been held by the Norman Dieudonne family.
The author juggles Jesse's struggles to find out what is happening to her in 1981 with the story of Bayard Dieudonne, a medieval knight in 1321. On his return to Hundredfield after fighting on the Scottish borders, he discovers that his brother Godefroi has married and is now ruling the land harshly, the people are homeless and starving and his brother doesn't seem to care. The historical background is vividly drawn and the period of the Middle Ages comes to life as the reader is drawn into descriptions of the Lady of the Forest who is supposed to appear when she is most needed and the conflict between the Catholic faith of the Normans and the pagan beliefs that many of the people from the countryside still have. Bayard's story is a gripping one, written in the first person and in the style of the language of the 14th century, and it is this that really kept my interest alive, as I read on avidly to find out what the connection was between Bayard, Jesse, Hundredfield and The Lady of the Forest.
Readers who like historical fiction and the idea of the medieval world impacting on the modern world will enjoy the descriptions of the castle and its chapel, the harsh life of the peasants and soldiers, the piety and superstition on the monks and the conflict between Norman and Briton. The struggle that is required to keep Hundredfield in the 20th century and the effort that Jesse has to make to find out about her roots is also immersing. The author brings Jesse's story and Bayard's to a satisfying conclusion while managing to keep up the suspense about the connection between the two.
I certainly will not hesitate to pick up other books by Posie Graeme-Evans.