Vinny’s Wilderness | Book Review
Author: Janet Shepperson
Publisher: Liberties Press
Jumping from June back to March and working its way forward again, Vinny’s Wilderness is a reflection on the past few months leading up the present situation of divorcee, teacher and mother, Vinny. As she watches her garden being uprooted, the reader is left filling in the blanks as to why her ‘wilderness’ is being inexplicably destroyed.
Vinny tutors the well-to-do Alex Masterson’s son Denzil, who is struggling in the lead up to his eleven-plus exam. Vinny’s modest lifestyle is thrown into question as she sees with jealously and disdain, the lavish life that Alex leads; yet, Vinny’s life becomes helplessly entwined with Alex’s as they develop an unlikely friendship that transcends their class-based prejudices.
Vinny’s Wilderness dwells strongly on the past. Even whilst Vinny recollects the past few months of her life, we get further flashbacks and revelations from her childhood. The novella meditates to a large extent on the (ultimately pointless) parental tendencies to perfect for their children, the life they missed out on, as both Vinny and Alex watch their children approach their teenage years with apprehension.
These unavoidable qualms of life are paralleled consistently with the simplicity of nature as the novella jumps between life’s problems to Vinny’s quiet moments spent in her beloved garden.
Shepperson’s novella is a light read that leaves the reader intrigued from start to finish. Bringing her characters to life in the backdrop of current day Belfast, Shepperson maps a familiar landscape.
By Kaity Hall