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.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

The Wilderness Between Us by [Penny Haw]