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The Wild Other: A Memoir

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Clover Stroud's idyllic childhood in rural England was shattered when a horrific riding accident left her mother permanently brain-damaged. Just sixteen, she embarked on a journey to find the sense of home that had been so savagely broken. Travelling from gypsy camps in Ireland, to the rodeos of west Texas and then to Russia's war-torn Caucasus, Clover eventually found her Clover Stroud's idyllic childhood in rural England was shattered when a horrific riding accident left her mother permanently brain-damaged. Just sixteen, she embarked on a journey to find the sense of home that had been so savagely broken. Travelling from gypsy camps in Ireland, to the rodeos of west Texas and then to Russia's war-torn Caucasus, Clover eventually found her way back to England's lyrical Vale of the White Horse. The Wild Other is a grippingly honest account of love, loss, family and the healing strength of nature. Powerful and deeply emotional, this is the story of an extraordinary life lived at its fullest.


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Clover Stroud's idyllic childhood in rural England was shattered when a horrific riding accident left her mother permanently brain-damaged. Just sixteen, she embarked on a journey to find the sense of home that had been so savagely broken. Travelling from gypsy camps in Ireland, to the rodeos of west Texas and then to Russia's war-torn Caucasus, Clover eventually found her Clover Stroud's idyllic childhood in rural England was shattered when a horrific riding accident left her mother permanently brain-damaged. Just sixteen, she embarked on a journey to find the sense of home that had been so savagely broken. Travelling from gypsy camps in Ireland, to the rodeos of west Texas and then to Russia's war-torn Caucasus, Clover eventually found her way back to England's lyrical Vale of the White Horse. The Wild Other is a grippingly honest account of love, loss, family and the healing strength of nature. Powerful and deeply emotional, this is the story of an extraordinary life lived at its fullest.

30 review for The Wild Other: A Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    katy ktp

    An extraordinary work. I loved every moment of it. Her connection and description of horses is remarkable. The tragedy of her mother was beyond heartbreaking. An exceptional writer.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I read the first 78 pages only. Normally I love memoirs that center on bereavement or major illness, but there’s so much going on in this book that rather drowns out the story of her mother falling off her horse when Stroud was 16 and suffering a TBI. For instance, there’s a lot about the blended family Stroud grew up in, an embarrassing amount of detail about her early sexual experiences, and an account of her postnatal depression that plunges her back into memories of her mother’s accident. “Ho I read the first 78 pages only. Normally I love memoirs that center on bereavement or major illness, but there’s so much going on in this book that rather drowns out the story of her mother falling off her horse when Stroud was 16 and suffering a TBI. For instance, there’s a lot about the blended family Stroud grew up in, an embarrassing amount of detail about her early sexual experiences, and an account of her postnatal depression that plunges her back into memories of her mother’s accident. “Horses are the source of powerful magic that’s changed my life,” Stroud asserts, so she talks a lot about real horses and chalk figures, but that’s not the same as affirming the healing power of nature, which is how this book has been marketed. This is well written, yet I couldn’t warm to the story of a posh Home Counties upbringing, which means I never got as far as the more tantalizing contents set in Ireland and Texas.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Paul

    The childhood that Clover and her siblings enjoyed was a relaxing home life, growing up in the country whilst surrounded by horses and the beautiful hills outside Oxford. This idyllic upbringing was brought to an abrupt end in November 1991 when the head interrupted her history class and asked her to step outside. It was then she learnt that her mother had been involved in an ‘incident’. She had fallen from a horse and was seriously injured; just how serious would soon become apparent. Clover’s l The childhood that Clover and her siblings enjoyed was a relaxing home life, growing up in the country whilst surrounded by horses and the beautiful hills outside Oxford. This idyllic upbringing was brought to an abrupt end in November 1991 when the head interrupted her history class and asked her to step outside. It was then she learnt that her mother had been involved in an ‘incident’. She had fallen from a horse and was seriously injured; just how serious would soon become apparent. Clover’s life would never be the same again. This first loss of her mother, the hub and heart of the family, would fracture their lives from that moment onwards. Clover sought solace in friends, lovers and drugs. The search for comfort would take her across to Ireland, to the vast ranches of Texas as a cowgirl and finally to the arms of another lover from the splintered Caucasus regions before she wends her way home to the Vale of the White Horse. She settles and raises a family, with all the ups and downs that this entails. Her mother’s condition slowly worsens as she then deals with her own crisis. Reading this book is a raw and painful experience. Her turbulent life after her mother’s accident, forms the woman she is to become; strong, independent, vulnerable and delicate. She has the juxtaposition of knowing exactly what she wants, without always knowing the direction that she is heading. Clover is very open about her personal life, going into a fair amount of detail at times, not looking for judgement or approval; just being honest about what happened. The landscape where they lived is her anchor when dealing with all that life throws at her and it is something that she returns to at all the different stages of her life. I was hoping for more of the natural world and her interaction with it. It would have lifted it from the good to the great. Still worth reading though as she writes with a clarity and honesty that you don’t often get. 3.5 Stars

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mrs Olga A Danes-Volkov

    An extraordinary book I have read this in two days,often when I should have been doing something else but I would pass it and be unable to stop myself picking it up and reading, reading. An unbelievably honest account of a life lived with the searing pain of seeing her beloved mother severely brain damaged after a riding accident this is a wonderful, unforgettable memoir. The author describes the dark places to which her grief takes her and at the end of it all it is a relief to know that she eme An extraordinary book I have read this in two days,often when I should have been doing something else but I would pass it and be unable to stop myself picking it up and reading, reading. An unbelievably honest account of a life lived with the searing pain of seeing her beloved mother severely brain damaged after a riding accident this is a wonderful, unforgettable memoir. The author describes the dark places to which her grief takes her and at the end of it all it is a relief to know that she emerges to great happiness. Her mother, who produced such varied talents as the author, her sisters, Nell Gifford, the circus owner and Emma Bridgewater the potter, must have been a remarkable woman.

  5. 4 out of 5

    rina dunn

    Non fiction is probably the genre I read least and this is the first Memoir I've read and I Loved it. I read this one as a book club pick and it was the perfect pick for me. I've always had an obsession with horses and I've been lucky enough to work with them as a career. This book is Clover Stroud's raw and brutal memoir which centres on her mother who has a tragic accident whilst horse riding and suffers brain damage. It's about how Clover deals with the loss of her Mum before she died and the Non fiction is probably the genre I read least and this is the first Memoir I've read and I Loved it. I read this one as a book club pick and it was the perfect pick for me. I've always had an obsession with horses and I've been lucky enough to work with them as a career. This book is Clover Stroud's raw and brutal memoir which centres on her mother who has a tragic accident whilst horse riding and suffers brain damage. It's about how Clover deals with the loss of her Mum before she died and the finality of her death. And gosh did this book make me feel everything. I literally felt like I was listening to an old friend tell me their life story. It's beautiful and painful And honest. I could read this author forever just based on the affinity she has with horses ❤️ honestly one of my favourite books.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Flora Baker

    As someone who suddenly lost her mother at twenty, I was intrigued to see how Stroud would manage to write about such a similarly daunting & life changing event - yet so much more complex, because her mother lived another 20 years in various nursing homes. For the most part, I really enjoyed the book and was nodding along to much of her reactions, emotions and behaviour which spiralled after her mum's accident. However, I was less convinced by the last third of the book which somehow became focu As someone who suddenly lost her mother at twenty, I was intrigued to see how Stroud would manage to write about such a similarly daunting & life changing event - yet so much more complex, because her mother lived another 20 years in various nursing homes. For the most part, I really enjoyed the book and was nodding along to much of her reactions, emotions and behaviour which spiralled after her mum's accident. However, I was less convinced by the last third of the book which somehow became focused on a series of her sexual encounters instead of any particular storyline. Structurally, I was impressed with Stroud's ability to jump around in time within each chapter.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Liz Franklin

    A beautifully written book. Honest, raw, searching, poignant and agonising in equal measures. All the more heartbreaking as Clover’s incredible, spirited sister Nell Gifford lost her life to breast cancer just before Christmas at only 46 years old. A book that will stay with me forever....

  8. 4 out of 5

    Emilie

    This book marked me on so many levels, even on some that I didn't even know existed. I felt like it was written for me. Clover Stroud I salute you, thank you so much. This book marked me on so many levels, even on some that I didn't even know existed. I felt like it was written for me. Clover Stroud I salute you, thank you so much.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    A difficult book to rate because while I could not relate to the major narrative device of horses and horse-riding, the book definitely made me think and feel a lot. Stroud's response to tragedy is to throw herself into dangerous situations, mostly related to horses and men. Some of the passages about horses are too descriptive for someone who has had no contact with them, but Stroud makes up for it in her descriptions of her interactions with people. I did find her writing about her husband at A difficult book to rate because while I could not relate to the major narrative device of horses and horse-riding, the book definitely made me think and feel a lot. Stroud's response to tragedy is to throw herself into dangerous situations, mostly related to horses and men. Some of the passages about horses are too descriptive for someone who has had no contact with them, but Stroud makes up for it in her descriptions of her interactions with people. I did find her writing about her husband at the end very cringeworthy but appreciate that when it comes to writing about emotional attachments, to each their own. A gift from Mum and Dad for my 25th.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sneezewort

    An absolutely extraordinary book........

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Cooper

    Clover Stroud grew up in the South West of England where she had an idyllic childhood as part of a very close family unit. When she was 16 her mother was permanently brain-damaged in a horrific riding accident and the family struggled to come to terms with their loss. Needless to say, nothing would ever be the same again and Clover embarks on a period of soul searching as she tries to recreate the wonder of her earlier years. Horses were always a major part of her life and this theme continues a Clover Stroud grew up in the South West of England where she had an idyllic childhood as part of a very close family unit. When she was 16 her mother was permanently brain-damaged in a horrific riding accident and the family struggled to come to terms with their loss. Needless to say, nothing would ever be the same again and Clover embarks on a period of soul searching as she tries to recreate the wonder of her earlier years. Horses were always a major part of her life and this theme continues as Clover’s journey progresses. She embraces a number of different experiences and lives life to the full as she searches for the peace which she craves. This is a memoir, written by Clover about the whole grieving process and her pursuit of happiness and some sort of resolution. I was really looking forward to reading this book but unfortunately I didn’t feel that it lived up to expectations. I felt that it started off on the wrong foot as the first few pages were a gloomy description of her life now, which did not seem entirely relevant in terms of the book that I was hoping to read. On the whole I found it dull, boring and repetitive, yet it could/should have been so good. Somehow it just lacked vibrancy and passion and, instead of coming across as redemptive it was largely just depressing. Clover had so many wonderful experiences but they somehow didn’t come alive on the written page. She also had a lot of pent-up grief, sadness, fear and frustration to discharge and I wanted this to make me cry. What I was actually given felt like a fairly pedestrian narrative which failed to stir up any emotion in me whatsoever. However, it wasn’t all bad. Clover did have some amazing experiences and a lot of interesting stories to tell about those experiences. Whilst I did not feel that the writing style necessarily did them justice, they were still interesting. Unfortunately the only word I can really think of to describe this book is disappointing, especially as I was expecting such great things. I would probably not seek out other books by this author.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Vivienne

    What a wonderfully written book of the effect Clovers Mothers tragic accident had on her life. It is told with brutal honesty. I had the privilege of being part of the staff that cared for Char and can relate to so much that was written. A very moving story that touched my heart.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bella

    I expected to enjoy this more, however I hadn’t realised how much of Clover’s story and life focussed on horses. I found it difficult to become invested in this however I became more towards to final half of the book. The writing was beautiful but it wasn’t engaging enough for me.

  14. 5 out of 5

    what.heather.loves

    "No one knows why the White Horse is there above the hill in Uffington. It's a mystery that belongs to ancient man, and we can speculate. It we are only ever guessing." Horse-mad Clover Stroud enjoyed a childhood blessed with ponies and the great outdoors in Wiltshire, with her exuberant and eccentric mother, Charlotte (known as Char), and father Rick Stroud. In 1991, when Clover was sixteen, this came to an abrupt end when Char was thrown from her horse while out riding and suffered a catastroph "No one knows why the White Horse is there above the hill in Uffington. It's a mystery that belongs to ancient man, and we can speculate. It we are only ever guessing." Horse-mad Clover Stroud enjoyed a childhood blessed with ponies and the great outdoors in Wiltshire, with her exuberant and eccentric mother, Charlotte (known as Char), and father Rick Stroud. In 1991, when Clover was sixteen, this came to an abrupt end when Char was thrown from her horse while out riding and suffered a catastrophic blow to the head. Defying the medical prognosis, Char regained consciousness, but could never be the mother Clover needed. After her mother's accident, Clover sought comfort in friends, lovers and drugs and she embarked on a journey to regain the sense of home that had been so cruelly disrupted. Travelling through gypsy camps in Ireland, to rodeos in Texas and then to Russia’s Caucasus, Clover eventually found her way home to the Wiltshire countryside. The Wild Other is an emotional account of love, loss and family, written with honesty. During traumatic times, horses and the landscape of her home county were Clover's anchor. This memoir is a reminder to live life to the fullest. Powerful but difficult reading.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ali

    I loved this book, it is Clover's memoir about how her loving mother was injured in a riding accident when Clover was a teenager. We get to know Clover through her journey through grief, involving horses, love, adventures and rebellion. Clover writes with a sensitivity and rawness to her emotions and evokes beautiful moments of life in gypsy caravans in Ireland to ranch life in the US, all whilst mourning the devastation of her family and the loss of her mother in her life. It is an inspiring re I loved this book, it is Clover's memoir about how her loving mother was injured in a riding accident when Clover was a teenager. We get to know Clover through her journey through grief, involving horses, love, adventures and rebellion. Clover writes with a sensitivity and rawness to her emotions and evokes beautiful moments of life in gypsy caravans in Ireland to ranch life in the US, all whilst mourning the devastation of her family and the loss of her mother in her life. It is an inspiring read, heartfelt and moving. As a horsewoman, mother and having lived through grief in my own life, I felt as if I knew Clover. I have bought copies of the book as gifts for people I love, it has been my best read of 2017 and quite possibly one of my favourite books ever.

  16. 4 out of 5

    cotcom

    This memoir by Clover Stroud makes for compelling reading. It is the true story of how life changed in an instant for Clover when her mother had a horse riding accident and is left permanently brain damaged. At sixteen, the home with her mother at the heart of it is broken. This is the dramatic and honest story of how Clover slowly put the pieces back together. She has to look after herself for the first time. She sets out on her new life journey, looking for peace and resolution. The book is wel This memoir by Clover Stroud makes for compelling reading. It is the true story of how life changed in an instant for Clover when her mother had a horse riding accident and is left permanently brain damaged. At sixteen, the home with her mother at the heart of it is broken. This is the dramatic and honest story of how Clover slowly put the pieces back together. She has to look after herself for the first time. She sets out on her new life journey, looking for peace and resolution. The book is well written. Stroud tells it like it is, as she overcomes adversity. The story is emotional and gripping. It is a reminder of how fragile life is and how powerful the human spirit is. It makes for uncomfortable reading in parts as the author struggles to cope. But I couldn’t put this one down.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Veronica

    I wanted to like this book as my daughter gave it to me and she loved it. Much as I found it easy to read and the author's telling of the story of her mother's accident and subsequent long-term ill health was well written and very moving at times, there were times when I wanted to slap her for her incredibly selfish and irresponsible behaviour. Her tales of her adventures in Ireland, US and the Caucasus I found incredible, in the true sense of the word! I just wonder why no photos? Considering s I wanted to like this book as my daughter gave it to me and she loved it. Much as I found it easy to read and the author's telling of the story of her mother's accident and subsequent long-term ill health was well written and very moving at times, there were times when I wanted to slap her for her incredibly selfish and irresponsible behaviour. Her tales of her adventures in Ireland, US and the Caucasus I found incredible, in the true sense of the word! I just wonder why no photos? Considering she is a professional writer her grammar was suspect at times (misuse of personal pronouns), what was her editor paid for? Disappointed.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Louise Donegan

    I’m not a horse person, and this book has a lot of horses! However, I still really enjoyed this memoir and I can only imagine that if you were a horse person this would resonate even more. Stroud has a way of beautifully describing the environment of wherever she is: I was transported back to the English countryside hedgerows, intrigued by the vast sweeping Texan landscape and fascinated by her time in the Caucuses. Stroud’s story is told through horses but is framed by her mother’s terrible acc I’m not a horse person, and this book has a lot of horses! However, I still really enjoyed this memoir and I can only imagine that if you were a horse person this would resonate even more. Stroud has a way of beautifully describing the environment of wherever she is: I was transported back to the English countryside hedgerows, intrigued by the vast sweeping Texan landscape and fascinated by her time in the Caucuses. Stroud’s story is told through horses but is framed by her mother’s terrible accident when she was 16, which becomes the prism through which all her life becomes informed thereafter. Heartbreaking and heartwarming, I look forward to reading more from Clover Stroud.

  19. 5 out of 5

    CHRISTINA

    I’ve just finished this book and my emotions are raw and I have a lump in my throat. For what was a slow starter (I almost put this book down to give up during chapter 2 due to my mind wandering through the two initial intro chapters that just ceased to grip me and they seemed to talk too much about horses). I persevered and I’m so glad I did. What a colourful life Clover Stroud has lived and what a raw and open account of it all.

  20. 4 out of 5

    MamaMiaReads

    "You Cannot Wait To Be Saved. You Have To Be The Knight." This was a really moving memoir. I like how brutally honest Clover Stroud was when writing her story. Even the uncomfortable parts, it was simply brave of her to write about. I liked her connection to horses, how she came to terms about her mother, and how she seemed to find herself. I did get lost at times due to the switching of timelines but the whole book seemed to flow nicely. I look forward to reading more from Clover Stroud. "You Cannot Wait To Be Saved. You Have To Be The Knight." This was a really moving memoir. I like how brutally honest Clover Stroud was when writing her story. Even the uncomfortable parts, it was simply brave of her to write about. I liked her connection to horses, how she came to terms about her mother, and how she seemed to find herself. I did get lost at times due to the switching of timelines but the whole book seemed to flow nicely. I look forward to reading more from Clover Stroud.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gemma

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I found this memoir beautifully written, it was raw and dark and while I don't have an experience of grief like this it still spoke to me. From my perspective Clover has a had a big life, beautiful often because of her trauma and that was relatable. She has great insight to herself and I really enjoyed knowing her fearless tales and especially reading about all the forms of motherhood in her life. I think this is a story that sticks around for a while. I found this memoir beautifully written, it was raw and dark and while I don't have an experience of grief like this it still spoke to me. From my perspective Clover has a had a big life, beautiful often because of her trauma and that was relatable. She has great insight to herself and I really enjoyed knowing her fearless tales and especially reading about all the forms of motherhood in her life. I think this is a story that sticks around for a while.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sian Langridge

    A high low, Dolly Alderton recommendation as dolly’s favourite and I can see why. I have no doubt I will come back and read this beautiful memoir again. Whilst so much happened at home, clover continued to explore and learn more about herself which is all you can hope when a traumatic experience happens to somebody.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lucie Dudley

    Such an honest, moving and poignant memoir that often brought tears to my eyes. Clover tells of how intense trauma at a young age shaped her life and future. An experience many who have experienced sudden and catastrophic events will recognise only too well. A beautifully written tale of how one incident can shape our whole world and human experience.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kelly

    I have wanted to read this book for a while having long followed Clover Stroud’s exuberant Instagram. Clover has the rare capacity to write with a confident, almost matter of fact honesty, whilst remaining entirely vulnerable and aware of her own fallibility. It’s a rare and refreshing perspective in an age of appearances. Will add ‘My Wild and Sleepless Nights’ to my tbr pile.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Abby

    4.5 stars. It took a few chapters to hook me completely. Some of that was because I didn't get so many of the pop culture and local references, plus the narrative meandered a lot in the beginning. But it was worth sticking with and turned out to be a beautifully moving memoir. 4.5 stars. It took a few chapters to hook me completely. Some of that was because I didn't get so many of the pop culture and local references, plus the narrative meandered a lot in the beginning. But it was worth sticking with and turned out to be a beautifully moving memoir.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Susannah

    Pretty good writing. We were at the same college at uni, she was quite mysterious. Little did we know the anguish and adventures inside her head! I'm quite impressed and feel that her mother and all that happened to her necessarily shaped who Clover had to become. Pretty good writing. We were at the same college at uni, she was quite mysterious. Little did we know the anguish and adventures inside her head! I'm quite impressed and feel that her mother and all that happened to her necessarily shaped who Clover had to become.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Larue Deluka

    I read The Wild Other in one sitting on a cold winters night. Clovers writing is achingly beautiful.Very moving, made me want to crawl under the covers and devour it. Wonderful writer. Wonderful memoir.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Miss RCD Foster

    Sadness mixed with warmth and sunshine Clover Stroud paints a picture that is so close to my own childhood, not the specific experiences but the memory of feeling which is warm and fuzzy. This is a facinating memoir filled with adventure.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Katy Wheatley

    This was absolutely mesmerising. My daughter has been reading Clover's latest book and has been raving about it. I realised I had a copy of this kicking about and decided to give it a go. I absolutely devoured it. It's raw and devastating and I was utterly immersed in it. It's such a powerful read. This was absolutely mesmerising. My daughter has been reading Clover's latest book and has been raving about it. I realised I had a copy of this kicking about and decided to give it a go. I absolutely devoured it. It's raw and devastating and I was utterly immersed in it. It's such a powerful read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Julia Croyden

    Very good, moving book on the effects of trauma.

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