the author and the book
Inga Simpson has an affinity with nature. She has been a professional writer within the public service, writes non-fiction articles, short stories and of course now, Mr Wigg. Currently undertaking a PhD in English Literature in Queensland, Inga also teaches writing and is focusing on a nature writing project. I understand that she has previously written a novel but I could not find it referenced anywhere. Mr Wigg was published by Hachette Australia in 2013 and is just a small bite at 296 luscious pages.
“It’s the summer of 1971, not far from the stone-fruit capital of New South Wales, where Mr Wigg lives on what is left of his family farm, Mrs Wigg has been gone almost a year and he thinks about here every day. He misses his daughter, too, and wonders, when he’ll see her again.” (excerpt only)
Maybe it is just me or where I was at the time Mr Wigg was published, but I wonder if the book was launched in the quiet, unassuming way of Mr Wigg himself. I had heard of the book release but it certainly didn’t receive the fanfare it probably should have, as an Australian beauty.
Soft and sweet as the fruit it explores, as I read this book I had an overwhelming sense of nostalgia. Not because I grew up on a farm but because so many of the images and emotions bring the period back to life, engaging all of my senses – heart and head were pumping as I worked through the seasons with Mr Wigg. Harking back to the 70’s when life seemed to be so much simpler, yet the complexities of relationships and families are ever present, it provided a backdrop at once familiar yet different to my own life experience.
Mr Wigg is a man of routine, so much of him reminds me of all that is good about the past. There is no pretence or expansive neediness. He just gets on with it. Through all of the ups and downs of life, each day seems to bring him a gift of the land and he gives as much back. We learn a little bit more about many of the fruits we take for granted now and in a very charming way. Who knew that fruit could have such personalities!
The act of entwining a fairy tale being told by Mr Wigg to his grandchildren into the narrative gives an almost otherworldly sense to everyday life. Drawing parallels between the fruit trees he nurtures and the magic of the story gives us a real sense of Mr Wigg. You cannot help but feel that you would want this man as a Grandfather for your children. Love is infused in his daily life, whether it be the love of his wife, his children, grandchildren or his beloved orchard.
It is also a story about lost opportunities which we should all heed when going about our daily lives and the search for what we believe is important. What price do we pay for the ‘things’ we want and is it really worth it in the end? The difficulties Mr Wigg faces with his family could be our very own, not necessarily with the same players or circumstances but with raw emotion of the relationships we must deal with as a family.
A book that can cover you like a warm quilt on a Winter’s afternoon or a breathe of sweet, peach scented-air on a Summer’s day, it provides a feeling of comfort as you discover the story of Mr Wigg.
There were so many ‘little pearlers’ through the book that I had difficulty choosing just one. You really can’t go past Persimmons and Peaches talking to one another, but in saying that the advice that his mother gave Mr Wigg before he married resonated with me. ‘Don’t forget she’s her own person, son. She had a whole life before she met you.’ Then with the benefit of age and wisdom “He sometimes wondered, now, what his mother had given up, and who she had been before she became a wife and a mother.(p.272) ” A thought for us all.
most lasting image
You know when you finish reading a book, sometimes there is an image that continues to sit with you for a long time? It doesn’t always happen but when it does it really hangs on. From Mr Wigg I have so many images that still are inhabiting my mind space but one that seems to be the brightest is Mr Wigg dancing around in the kitchen “in his socks, while his dinner cooked” reminiscing about the times he would go dancing with his wife.
why it is important to read cover to cover…………………………
One of things that appealed to me was the simplicity of the cover of Mr Wigg. Its bright orange background was stunning but the font used for the title, a little inconsistent in density intrigued me. Luckily, it was explained within the last pages of the book. The font was taken from scanned images of embossed gardening labels giving them the disintegrated look that you would expect in the garden environment. To me this shows great care and thought was put into this book not just in the content but the whole design and gives it an authenticity.
For more information about Inga Simpson or Mr Wigg’s facebook page –