Jonathan Dymond is a young gentleman with no cares, who makes a living by taking his unique portable cider-press round the countryside, and pressing cider apples. When a note comes to his father from his dying uncle, things change. His father arrives to late to hear his Uncle's last wishes, and is willing to let it be forgotten. But Jonathan finds a scrap of the note that hints of dark secrets, and is plagued by nightmares of his Uncle. So our protagonist finds himself driven to investigate the mystery. Taking the cider press to help his Aunt Harriet with her apples is a convenient way to get into the household for a while, and there he meets Tamar, an unusual beggar-girl who has been hired as a maid by her aunt, and seems to know somewhat about the mystery of Uncle Robin's dying wishes.
The novel is set in 16th centry england shortly after cromwell's civil war (a period which McCann
has obviously well researched for her first novel 'As Meat Loves Salt
'). The setting works really well for the novel, with hints of the recent violent past still resting below the surface. And the practice of cider making seems to tinge the story with the scents of sweetness and underlying rot.
It has to be said that I did not rate this novel quite as highly as McCann's first novel, but then again I gave 'As Meat Loves Salt
' a 5 star rating and cried continuously over it. It has to be hard first novel to live up to. Nevertheless McCann's writing is still brilliant, and the mystery was completely riveting. Highly recommended.See my review of Maria McCann's first novel:
← As Meat Loves Salt