Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah - Book Review

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah - Book Review
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Kristin Hannah, author of the runaway bestseller, The Nightingale, has yet another instant New York Times Bestseller in her new novel, The Great Alone.

It's 1974.  Turmoil abounds.  Think Watergate, the Munich Olympics massacre, Patty Hearst's kidnapping, and Vietnam.  Despite the great uneasiness of the times, our country's immense angst is no match for that which churns within Ernt Allbright, recently returned prisoner of war.

In search of escape from what Allbright perceives as external madness, he loads up the VW van and moves his family off-grid to Alaska's remote wilderness.  For a few idyllic weeks of summer, there is bliss in the Allbright's ramshackle cabin.  Just as Alaskan summers are the most fleeting of seasons, the much-needed respite known by Ernt's wife, Cora, and teen daughter, Leni, will disintegrate with the eternal darkness of the Arctic winter.  It is in the midst of Ernt's downward spiral that the women in his life will learn the truest lessons about what it means to survive, to love, and to find yourself.

Hannah's descriptions of Alaska's raw beauty are breathtaking.  It is here that her writing soars.  Having spent significant time immersed in the splendor of the last frontier (her family owns an adventure lodge there), the author has an intimacy that draws the reader into her own authentic wilderness experience.  Even when the circumstances in the story were bleak, or daunting, I found myself wanting to pack up and leave for the Great Alone.

The book's title comes from a poem by Robert W. Service:
"Were you ever out in the Great Alone, when the moon was awful clear, and the icy mountains hemmed you in with a silence you most could hear... "
It is that awful clarity, and the many different kinds of alone, that make this a powerful story of forging the only kind of connectedness that really matters.











Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

8 comments:

  1. This sounds like an intriguing book, Diana. I have never been to Alaska, but know several people who live or have lived there and love it. It sounds like the descriptions of the beautiful Alaskan scenery alone would be worth the read.

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    1. I have been to Alaska and can share that it is spectacular. I would move there in a heartbeat.

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  2. I have always wanted to visit Alaska, but have never had a desire to move there. I already know I couldn't handle the long, dark winters and definitely not the isolation. It sounds like a great book though and I'm sure I would enjoy living vicariously through Kristin Hannah for the short time it would take to read the book. I can't even imagine the emotional difficulties a prisoner of war would face when returning home. My heart is already breaking for Ernt and his family.

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    1. I'm not sure I could handle all of that great darkness, either. Few can deal with it. Ernt's story, sadly, is not unusual for those who are tortured by what they experienced in Vietnam (or other war settings). It is beyond heart-breaking and the families suffer right alongside the returning soldiers (and often without the power to bring healing to those wounded spirits).

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  3. Once again you write a most compelling review of a book. I've never been to Alaska my self but, Fran has been there and loved every minute of it. We still look at the pictures she took from years ago. Based on your review the book is a must read. Thanks.

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    1. I encourage you to give yourself the great pleasure of a trip to Alaska. It is the adventure of a lifetime.

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  4. This book sounds like exactly my cup of tea. Adding it to the very top of my to-read list. Thank you for this review.

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    1. I thought the same thing. You came to mind when I imagined who might be the first of my review visitors to read this book.

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