Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #SouthAfrica Drama The Wilderness Between Us by @PennyHaw

Today’s team review is from Terry. She blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Terry has been reading The Wilderness Between us by Penny Haw

The Wilderness Between Us by [Penny Haw]

4 stars

A close-knit group of friends set off on a hike in the remote, mountainous Tsitsikamma region of South Africa. Three couples, one father and his daughter. From the beginning there are problems; one person falls ill, and another takes no notice of the rangers’ weather warnings, leaving them stranded in various locations.

This interesting and highly readable drama centres around Clare, the daughter, who has anorexia, and Faye, the wife of Derek, whose own insecurities manifest themselves in the psychological abuse he bestows on Faye; he uses a version of the ‘gaslighting’ technique, lying to her about things she has said and done in order to make her doubt her own emotional stability. Although I understood the situation, I did find it frustrating that she was such a complete doormat and appeared never to have stood up for herself about anything in her entire married life.

Clare’s story was most compelling; how the anorexia began, the reasons behind it, the way in which it took hold and the repercussions. Clare’s self-awareness made her likable, and I thought the whole subject was dealt with sensitively and intelligently, while still making for a good story in which I was totally engrossed.

I liked that this was set in South Africa, not a part of the world I know much about, and I enjoyed the occasional South African/Afrikaans word, even when I wasn’t sure what it meant. I thought there could have been more of a sense of desperation, fear and hunger, considering the precarious situation everyone was in, but the intricate emotional dynamics kind of made up for this, from a reader’s point of view. I particularly liked Faye’s feeling of connection with her environment, near the end.

I had a few issues with some of the content (such as a few instances of the word ‘convince’ that should have been ‘persuade’ – it’s one of my pet peeves!), but nothing major. I enjoyed this book; it’s a thoroughly good read – and the cover is gorgeous!

Desc 1

Faye Mackenzie and her friends’ anorexic daughter, Clare are thrown together when a flood separates them from their hiking group in the remote, mountainous Tsitsikamma region of South Africa. With Clare critically injured, Faye is compelled to overcome her self-doubt and fear of the wild to take care of the younger woman, who opens her heart to Faye.

As their new friendship takes the women on an unexpected journey of discovery, the rest of the group wrestles with the harrowing aftermath of their own near tragedy. When the hiking party is reunited, their number is reduced by one.

Juxtaposing physical and psychological suspense, The Wilderness Between Us is a tale of two fragile women who unexpectedly find clarity, independence and renewed purpose as they fight to survive. It is a vivid, moving story about family, friendship, adventure and the healing power of nature and compassion. It also expounds the author’s love for animals and the outdoors.

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The Wilderness Between Us by [Penny Haw]

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT #ContemporaryFiction The Wilderness Between Us by @PennyHaw #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Noelle. She blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Noelle has been reading The Wilderness Between Us by Penny Haw

The Wilderness Between Us by [Penny Haw]

The story: A close knit group of long-time friends plan a several days’ hiking trip together in the remote and mountainous Tsitsikamma region of South Africa, along its southern border. When one of the group members, Michelle, can’t make the trip because of her duties as a high court judge, she has her daughter Clare go in her place. Clare is an anorexic, which is a poorly guarded secret, and has isolated herself from people because of her disorder. She agrees to go, so she can spend time with her father, Geoffrey, but it is clear from the outset that she feels and wants herself to be apart from the group.

Although the story is Clare’s, it is also that of Faye, the middle-aged wife of Derek, who emotional batters her. Faye has little belief in herself or her independence after years of marriage to him and feels fearful and helpless. When Clare develops a migraine, she stays behind at the group’s first overnight camp. The rest head off on a long hike, unaware that Derek has not told them that unseasonal rains have been predicted, which could create dangerous floods of the rivers they have to cross. After a few hours of hiking, Faye, feeling guilty about leaving Clare alone and wanting to be away from the ever-badgering husband, decides to head back alone to the first camp. The rains do come and the rivers flood, wreaking havoc with the hiking group, and Clare is seriously injured when she falls from an overlook of a river near the first camp. Faye takes control for both of them, building a shelter when she finds Clare is too badly injured to return to camp, nursing the young woman and sleeping by her to keep her warm. Together, they discover that they share a common emotion – shame – which keeps them trapped in their situations. Despite the differences in their ages, both women, but Faye especially, uncover the reasons for their shame and also find courage through their growing relationship.

This is a terrific book, entwining and describing with flashbacks the intricacies of the interpersonal relationships of the group and the lack of personal awareness in both Faye’s and Clare’s lives. Faye’s manipulation by Derek, who is wonderfully created as an overbearing person acting out his insecurities, and Clare’s extreme control of her life through her anorexia, develop through the backstory so the reader comes to understand how they reached this point. Anorexia is by its nature difficult to understand, and the author does a brilliant job explaining Clare’s descent into the illness. The reader can feel the physical challenges facing the members of the hiking group and the stark, isolated and challenging environment in which they find themselves. And one can’t help but cheer as Faye’s newly discovered resilience and resourcefulness helps to support Clare, as she faces increasing weakness and the possible outcome.  

The story is gripping, tense and well-wrought, in terms of the characters’ complex narratives, the beauty of the South African wilderness, and the constant danger surrounding the hikers. Spoiler: Not all will survive. 

This book is a powerful celebration of human resiliency, and I highly recommend it.

Five stars.

Desc 1

Faye and her friends’ anorexic daughter, Clare are thrown together after a flood separates them from their group during a hike in a remote, mountainous region of South Africa. When Clare is critically injured, Faye takes control, builds a shelter and nurses the younger woman. Her resilience and resourcefulness prove to Faye that she is not the fearful, helpless person her husband has long insisted she is. As they battle the elements and Clare’s failing health, the women discover they share a demon; shame. Their new friendship and growing appreciation of the wilderness take Faye and Clare on an unexpected journey of recovery and self-discovery—but not everyone survives.

THE WILDERNESS BETWEEN US is a portrait of two broken women who reclaim their independence and strength as they fight for survival—and renewal. It is a vivid, moving story about family, friendship and adventure, which reveals the effects of gaslighting and anorexia, the associated shame and the healing power of nature and compassion.

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The Wilderness Between Us by [Penny Haw]

Set in #SouthAfrica #Romance with a #paranormal element Where The River Bends by @elsawinckler

Where the River BendsWhere the River Bends by Elsa Winckler

4 stars

Where The River Bends is a romance with a paranormal element. The book is mainly set in South Africa.

Kalinda works for the Anglo Boer War Foundation; she is a native of South Africa who currently lives in Canada. She has returned to Africa to make sure that Canadian soldiers’ stories from the Boer War and their graves are acknowledged for their descendants.

On her route from the airport, Kalinda meets a mysterious woman who asks to be taken to Paardeberg, the farm where Kalinda has booked to stay. But the women suddenly vanishes leaving only a lace handkerchief.

When Kalinda retells the mystery incident to the farm owners, they believe she’s seen the ghost of a Boer War nurse. During her stay the ghost appears several more times and it seems there is a link between Kalinda’s work and the ghost’s story.

The ghost is not the only one to have an interest in Kalinda. Zach Carter is an extreme sports enthusiast. Where women are concerned he lives by his three-dates-only rule, but there’s something about Kalinda that threatens to break that rule.

I don’t know much about the Boer War, so those elements of the book were very interesting. The ghostly events were well written too and, for me, they both made this romance more memorable in a very saturated genre.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Kalinda Evans works for the Anglo-Boer war foundation in Canada. She’s sent to South Africa to make sure everyone who lost their lives in the war will be remembered. On her drive to the guest farm in Kimberley, South Africa, Kalinda picks up a female hitchhiker and is startled when just moments later, the woman vanishes. Kalinda would be convinced she was dreaming…except there’s still a white lace handkerchief on the passenger seat.

Extreme sports enthusiast and computer game designer Zack Carter is always after the next big challenge. He’s far too busy for romance and adheres to a three-date rule, until he meets his parents’ latest guest. When she relays the story of her mysterious experience, Zack’s family shares the local ghost story. Kalinda and Zack work together to solve the puzzle of the ghost and how it all ties in with the war and the work Kalinda is doing.

As their attraction grows, Zack realizes he no longer feels the need to prove anything to himself. He only needs to prove to Kalinda that he’s more than a good time.

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THE WHISPERER by @ElsaWinckler #Romance with a #SouthAfrica setting @HarperImpulse

The WhispererThe Whisperer by Elsa Winckler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Whisperer is a Harper Impulse romance set is South Africa. Cilla Stevens is a school teacher who has the ability to communicate with animals. Cilla has been asked to assess a difficult stallion; however, when she arrives she overhears a heated argument between the owner and his stable hand, primarily about her methods.

Cameron Rahl is a tough scientific based farmer, and horse whispering goes against all his beliefs. He’s hostile to both Cilla and her methods; however, when he finally meets her, he is floored by her beauty and his body’s reaction to her touch.

Cilla approaches Bravo, the difficult stallion, talks soothingly to him, calms him down and gains his confidence. She opens a connection to him and sees images which tell of his plight: he’s frightened, wants the freedom to run and has a yearning for a mare he’s scented, yet cannot find.

All this is re-told to Cameron and Ken, as well as the need to get Bravo checked over by the vet for anaemia. Cameron refuses to listen, he’s bad tempered, confused and grumpy about it all. Cilla has turned his world upside down, with her ideas, beauty and constant presence in his thoughts.

Cameron isn’t the only one feeling confused. Cilla too feels how her body reacts when she sees Cameron, but she can’t help Bravo if he won’t accept what she does. Can the desire to help the troubled horse make them put aside their own relationship issues, or will Cameron’s self-coping brick walls around his heart stay bound forever?

This was a sweet romance and the South African setting a lovely touch. For me there was one too many “will they, won’t they” situations for the couple to get through. Just occasionally the dialogue was also a little stilted, but I’m well aware this might be my British reading of a book from a South African author and we will have different speech expectations.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Loving him could destroy her…

High school teacher Cilla Stevens has always been different, especially in how she connects with animals. When she calms a stray dog during an incident at school, she’s asked to help a nearby farm with a difficult horse.

Cameron Rahl has had a very different relationship with animals since his mother died in a horse riding accident. But now he’s inherited his family’s farm, he’s determined to never let anyone affect him that way again.

Until he meets Cilla. He tries to stay away from the gorgeous horse whisperer with the potential to tame him, but something keeps pulling him close. And as much as Cilla tells herself she can keep it casual, she knows they’re too connected to be ‘just a fling.’

Will Cilla’s heart win out? Or will it take history repeating itself for Cameron to realise just how much he needs her?

About the author

Elsa Winckler

I write love stories because I love reading them. I like the heroines to be feisty, independent and headstrong. And the heroes must be strong but possess a generous amount of sensitivity and should of course, be gorgeous!

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