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The Wilderness: A Novelby Samantha Harvey
Synopses & Reviews
It’s Jake’s birthday. He is sitting in a small plane, being flown over the landscape that has been the backdrop to his life – his childhood, his marriage, his work, his passions. Now he is in his mid-sixties, and he isn’t quite the man he used to be. He has lost his wife, his son is in prison, and he is about to lose his past. Jake has Alzheimer’s.
As the disease takes hold of him, Jake struggles to hold on to his personal story, to his memories and identity, but they become increasingly elusive and unreliable. What happened to his daughter? Is she alive, or long dead? And why exactly is his son in prison? What went so wrong in his life? There was a cherry tree once, and a yellow dress, but what exactly do they mean? As Jake fights the inevitable dying of the light, the key events of his life keep changing as he tries to grasp them, and what until recently seemed solid fact is melting into surreal dreams or nightmarish imaginings. Is there anything he’ll be able to salvage from the wreckage? Beauty, perhaps, the memory of love, or nothing at all?
From the first sentence to the last, The Wilderness holds us in its grip. This is writing of extraordinary power and beauty.
An Orange Prize Finalist
A Man Booker Prize Nominee
Winner of the 2009 Betty Trask Prize
A Guardian First Book Award Nominee
Jake is in the tailspin of old age. Hiswife has passed away, his son is in prison, and now he is about to lose his past to Alzheimer's. As the disease takes hold of him, Jake's memories become increasingly unreliable. What happened to hisdaughter? Is she alive, or long dead? Why is his son imprisoned? And why can't he shake the memory of a yellow dress and one lonely, echoing gunshot?
Like MarilynneRobinson's Gilead, The Wilderness holds us in its grip from the first sentence to the last with the sheer beauty of its language and its ruminations on love andloss.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
With his memories slowly eroding thanks to the ravages of Alzheimer's, Jake Jameson, a sixty-five-year-old architect on the verge of retirement, struggles to preserve his sense of identity by building stories about his feelings and the events of his life, unaware that even his clearest recollections may not be true. A first novel. 30,000 first printing.
About the Author
Born in Kent, England in 1975, SAMANTHA HARVEY has an M.A. in philosophy and an M.A. with distinction from the Bath Spa Creative Writing course in 2005. In addition to writing, she has traveled extensively and taught in Japan and has lived in Ireland and New Zealand. She recently cofounded an environmental charity and lives in Bath, England.
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