Mr Wigg is the first novel by Australian author, Inga Simpson. Beginning in the summer of 1970-71, it recounts a year in the life of a recently widowed elderly farmer, Mr Wigg. With his son forced to sell the family’s wheat farm, Mr Wigg retains the farmhouse, his wife’s rose garden, the vegetable patch and the orchard he has maintained throughout his married life. And despite urging by his son, he is determined to resist moving into town. Although he misses his wife terribly, Mr Wigg’s life goes on, and he spends his days tending his orchard, listening to the cricket, baking with his grandchildren and telling them wonderful stories. And watching as the land he once farmed becomes a vineyard. As Mr Wigg’s year progresses through the seasons, he harvests fruit, preserves and bottles, and looks back on his life with his wife and children, still bewildered by The Year That Everything Went Wrong and his estrangement from his daughter. It may seem that not much happens in the novel, but if the mild intrigue about what came before does not spur the reader on, then Mr Wigg’s interactions with his trees and his grandchildren, and his special project, will. Simpson carefully crafts her novel to gradually reveal her characters and plot. The feel of the seventies is firmly established by the mention of popular songs, sporting and world events. Simpson delights readers by having Mr Wigg attribute to his beloved fruit trees thoughts and feelings, emotions and attitudes, dialogue and movement so that, in short, these fruit trees have character. Simpson’s descriptive prose is beautiful (“Birdsong rushed to fill the space the night left behind”) and often mouth-watering (“Mr Wigg broke open the ripest of the fruit, crimson juice spraying up his wrist and onto his shirt. The seeds nestled in neat rows like damp jewels.“), so much so that latent or lapsed enthusiasts might well feel compelled to head for their preserving pans and pickle jars. Mr Wigg is a novel that stays with the reader well after turning the last page, as Simpson touches on issues both topical and historical: ageing and independence; the Vietnam War and conscription; the chain of inheritance; survivor guilt; grief and regret; doing so with intelligence, warmth and humour. There are many interesting tidbits on fruit, history and viticulture. Blacksmithing, quite a bit of cricket, exploding bottles of cider, pickles, ice cream, a fruit dryer and a marvellous fairy tale all feature. This delicious novel is an absolute pleasure to consume and fans will look forward to Simpson’s next novel, Nest.