All My Wild Mothers
Motherhood, loss and an apothecary garden
Publisher: John Murray Press
Published: 2nd Feb '23
Available, normally delivered within 3-6 days.
An intimate weaving of memoir and herbal folklore, All My Wild Mothers is a story of re-wilding our wastelands, and the transformation that happens when we do.
'Lyrical and beautiful and feels like a haven in a cynical world - exactly the book we all need to read right now' Catherine Simpson, author of One Body: A Retrospective, When I Had A Little Sister and Truestory
'A book of passionate resistance to everything in modern life that wants us to stay neat and small and fearful' Tanya Shadrick, author of The Cure For Sleep
An intimate weaving of memoir and herbal folklore, All My Wild Mothers is a story of rewilding our wastelands and the transformation that can happen when we do.
At seven months pregnant, Victoria Bennett was looking forward to new motherhood and all that was to come. But when the telephone rang, the news she received changed everything. Her eldest sister had died in a canoeing accident.
Five years later, struggling with grief, the demands of being a parent-carer for her young son, and the impact of deeper austerity, life feels very different to the future she had imagined. A move to a new social housing estate in rural Cumbria offers Victoria and her family a chance to rebuild their lives. Constructed over an industrial site, at first the barren ground seems an unlikely place to sow the seeds of a new life.
She and her son set about transforming the rubble around them into a wild apothecary garden. Daisy, for resilience. Dandelion, for strength against adversity. Red campion, to ward off loneliness. Sow thistle, to lift melancholy. Borage, to bring hope in dark and difficult times.
Stone by stone, seed by seed, All My Wild Mothers is the story of how sometimes life grows, not in spite of what is broken, but because of it.
'An exciting new voice in nature writing' Cal Flyn, Sunday Times Writer of the Year, and author of Islands of Abandonment and Thicker Than Water
All My Wild Mothers is an impossibly moving memoir of gardens, herbalism, and the rigours and rewards of care. It asks what we might be willing to sacrifice for an artistic life, and what we lose of our selves when we attend to the needs of others before our own. It heralds the arrival of an exciting new voice in nature writing. -- CAL FLYN, Sunday Times Writer of the Year, award-winning author of ‘Islands of Abandonment’ and ‘Thicker Than Water’
All My Wild Mothers is a stunning meditation on the joy of nurturing (and of getting your hands dirty). It is a love letter to mothering and nature and mother nature, which bursts with wisdom, humility and hope. The writing is lyrical and beautiful and feels like a haven in a cynical world - exactly the book we all need to read right now. Victoria Bennett's writing is challenging and thought-provoking yet comforting and reassuring. What a wonderful book. Do read it. -- CATHERINE SIMPSON, author of 'When I Had A Little Sister'
Exquisitely written, this spellbinding book is rich in traditional plant wisdom and the author's lived experience. The garden Victoria Bennett creates with her young son becomes the setting for the most moving portrait of a mother and child I've ever read: how tenacious of life and beauty they both are, even as officials keep appearing to forbid their every attempt at making things grow. This is a book of passionate resistance to everything in modern life that wants us to stay neat and small and fearful. -- TANYA SHADRICK, author of 'The Cure for Sleep'
Witnessing a mother nurture her son and her garden so tenderly while grappling with grief and the responsibilities of a carer was an unexpectedly beautiful and life-affirming experience. A memoir written with tremendous care for the reader too. -- JINI REDDY, author of 'Wanderland'
A fascinating, tangled read on gardening as resistance and using ancient ways to heal in the modern world.
All My Wild Mothers is a beautiful bruise of a book. Full of technicolour pain and joy -- a bruise which you cannot help but press on and a compelling story that grabs at your heart. Victoria Bennett offers us a picked-to-the-bone honesty with the rare skill of capturing important truths we have always known but never realised until we read her words.
All My Wild Mothers wrests nature writing from the 'lone enraptured male' and shows how our care for the natural world is inseparable from our care for each other. Family, community, soil and plants are nurtured together in this tender and moving memoir. Clear-eyed yet lyrical, Bennett shows us how grief and love, worry and delight, health and fragility move through each of our lives as inevitably as nature's seasons of loss and renewal. -- SAMANTHA CLARK, author of 'The Clearing'
Prismatically beautiful in its honesty and telling, this book is a radical act of quiet rebellion. Staking a claim of belonging, loving and nurturing on unsure, uncertain ground - whether that's a life, home or land - and making a bewitching alchemy of it.
Celebrating the strength, wisdom and resolve of women that carry the cradle of care, wounds and joy, this is a work about the precarity of rural living, and the wild magic of knowledge earned in the face of that. It is a wonderful book. An apothecary of love.
Dimensions: 218mm x 146mm x 38mm