All My Wild Mothers: Victoria Bennett

A remarkable, sell-out event took place in our little bookshop one July evening as Victoria Bennett travelled all the way from Orkney to Okehampton to hold the audience spellbound with her talk about All My Wild Mothers: Motherhood, Loss and an Apothecary Garden.

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.

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.

Lyrical and beautiful and feels like a haven in a cynical world – exactly the book we all need to read right now‘ Catherine Simpson

A book of passionate resistance to everything in modern life that wants us to stay neat and small and fearful‘ Tanya Shadrick