Margaret grew up in a bookstore. She loved books, and became interested in the stories behind them. As she grew she published a few paper on the history of authors that were just long dead. She is surprised when she receives a note from Ms. Winters, a contemporary writer famous for a volume of short stories originally titled the thirteenth tale, yet it was only published with twelve stories. It has had an following of readers speculating about the last tale, as well as the tale of Ms. Winters herself. Every time she is interviewed she weaves a different tale about her past. Now she is ready to tale the truth to Margaret.
This is a novel that is full of various layers. Each character has their own mystery and the reader is left trying to unravel it all. Yet, there are enough clues given at the right moments to keep the reader satisfied and engaged. Until, at the end, you are left with a tale more intense then you could have imagined. The writing is magnificent, and the characters are excellent. Margaret is no idiot, she is able to piece together the story as fast as the reader, even if it does take her a little more time to get facts and verify all the aspects. In the meantime the story keeps moving along.
The Great Alone is one of those rare masterpiece novels. Kristin Hannah told a story that was vivid, alive, and full of emotion. She told the story of Leni, who at the age of 13 was brought to the wildness of Alaska by her parents. They were unprepared and hiding a volatile family life. Her father was a POW in the Vietnam war and suffered from PTSD, although that was not labeled during the 197o's, and the family was left to deal with his violent and paranoid behavior.
The novel is a journey through Leni's life. I feel like I have lived another lifetime within the pages of these books. It was a good, but troubled life, full of adventure and tragedy. It was so real that I could see the harsh Alaska winters and the wild variety of love. Part of Leni will live inside of every reader.
This was my first novel by Kristin Hannah. Yet, I do not want it to be my last.
All I knew about this book before I picked it up was that it had good reviews and it was suppose to be dark.
The book opens by introducing us to Henry Drax who is most likely a psychopath. He follows base instincts to know when to eat, sleep, have sex, get drunk, and to kill. Henry Drax represents everything that is vial about human nature. Yet, this is not really his story.
The novel follows Sumner, an army surgeon that was dishonorably discharged while serving in India. Unable to find work Sumner agrees to be a doctor on a whaling ship. To add to his misfortune Henry Drax is also employed on the ship.
The novel is dark but not graphic. Ian McGuire does a great job describing the characters and the world. He pays extra special attention to the olfaction sensory experience. I do not think I have ever pictured smell so vividly from reading a book. Yet, due to Sumner acting as narrator, the book portrays the potential cruelty of human nature without being so graphic that it was completely unreadable. Instead what is shown is a struggle to overcome base human nature to transform into a better human being.
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