Expectations were perhaps unduly high when this book came onto the radar, having so loved Lori Lansen’s “The Girls” and “The Wife’s Tale” in particular.
Enjoyed but cannot rave about this story of four apparent strangers getting unexpectedly lost together in a craggy, danger-beset wilderness that calls to mind the previous adventures told in similar surroundings but decidedly different circumstances in “Into the Wild” and the more recent “Wild”.
Rather like when the trailer of a new film tells most of the story before you get to see the real thing, there is also something deeply unsatisfying about the very early revelation here that only three of the four are going to come back.
Perhaps this tale would translate well to the big screen, as there are plenty of visually striking images when danger yet again very nearly strikes, but I was never really inside the moment with these characters.
It could be because the whole episode is told as a flashback and almost an integral element of the main man Wolf (aka Wilfred) Truly looking back on this unusual coming-of-age situation, or it could be because of the unlikeliness of some of the ongoing accidents that lead them ever further into even worse predicaments, but mainly I felt as though the author had charted her literary plot and marched it with through her fictional mountain, recounting a parable more than a credible history: the terrible father, even worse relations, tragedy hitting a close friend, doom and gloom for the three generations of ladies he encounters and aches to help – made me feel a bit like I was attending one of Rachel Cusk’s creative classes from “Outline”, in fact. No doubt a shortcoming on my part too, but even the names felt plucked out of the air: Byrd, Wolf, Lark, Yago, Vonn, Nola…
Positive reviewers talk about the resilience of the human spirit, and I did feel it, but all too faintly, am sorry to say. Shame, I think I will shuffle over to the ledge and gingerly reach out to revisit one of those earlier books, for L.L. really is such a gifted writer. Will put any disappointment to one side and wait to see where the author takes us next.
Read in June 2015.
Rating : 7/10