An online marketing consultant, an avid reader of 400 + books a year. Professional reader, reviewer, and blogger. Enjoy ARCs and new releases.
By Diane Thomas
Publisher: Random House- Bantam
Publication Date: 3/3/2015
My Rating: 4 Stars
A special thank you to Random House Publishing Group, Bantam Dell, and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
IN WILDERNESS, by Diane Thomas is an emotional and riveting literary fiction of illness, danger, obsession, and love, set in the North Georgia Mountains of two troubled souls igniting --for a compelling and moving thriller.
Katherine is a thirty-eight year old woman, a former successful professional of an advertising agency in Atlanta in the early sixties. Her life has been shattered by an un-diagnosed disease and left with the message of dying. She throws away the pills, as she sees a rustic mountain cabin adjacent to a national forest, for sale in the North Georgia Mountains. She is thinking, what if?
She had dreams of a baby, a husband, a long life. She had not expected dying at such a relatively young age to be awkward, unseemly cause for embarrassment and shame. Death is about to come, as the doctors have given her six months.
As she makes preparations, she sells her controlling interest in the agency, and her house, telling everyone she is headed to California and buys the remote cabin without even seeing it, only pictures. She packs up the bare essentials and her gun and sets out to the wilderness to die in peace, alone. A perfect place to die. However, she is not alone in the mountains. Someone is watching her.
Danny, a 20-year-old Vietnam War vet has suffered with mental illness from Vietnam with PTSD. He too, has escaped to the wilderness to drown out the noise in his head and those around him. He has been here for two years, and now here is a woman intruding on his space. He lives in the woods, this is his home, as he has so much death inside himself, taking over his mind. He feels he is better in the woods with the wild animals.
Without the daily work, Katherine allows herself to keep a journal, possibly harboring some faint hope she may be around a while. Each day she is getting stronger. As the seasons change, things change and she plants a garden harvesting full-grown vegetables, plans for long walks, and imagines herself sitting on her porch in the moonlight. She continues to feel a current of chill air and an intensity of a sudden gaze and someone watching.
With references to Gatsby and Daisy, (Gatsby who loved Daisy more than he loved himself), this pair, haunted by illness and a past, as new life in the wilderness sprouts everywhere, where Katherine learns everything is a gift. She is part of everything and everything is a part of her; how could she not have known this all along? They meet, and obsession becomes erotic, as these two troubled souls ignite; as they share their passion of books, companionship, tears, fears, and love. From darkness to light.can she make a place for him, with the danger lurking within his mind?
IN WILDERNESS is unique, haunting, and mesmerizing, and was reminded of my times in the North Georgia Mountains (not as remote as the novel). Talented Thomas writes eloquently, with a slow paced tale of engaging and lyrical prose, as she transports readers to another world away from technology and worldly possessions – only the raw emotions, beauty, and backdrop of nature.
This time in the sixties presents two illnesses, unrecognized at the time, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and environmental illness (EI), also known as multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS)—demonstrating effects of the lack of knowledge surrounding these illnesses.
I related to the novel in so many ways. I too have severe allergies and sensitivities to foods, additives, and environmental elements and chemicals. It has been a long haul with many doctors and over the past five years, have managed to control issues with foods and a strict vegan lifestyle.
On a personal note, an Atlanta resident for many years in the media, publishing, and advertising business, I spent many weekends in North Georgia Mountains, staying in remote Blue Ridge log cabins with hiking through the most beautiful mountains, as well as Highlands, NC.
I miss the lush greenery and trees, the stillness, and the solace of the mountains, as there is nothing like it. The deer outside your door each morning, endless weekends of hiking in the woods, waterfalls, the rustic surroundings, the crisp air, and the breathtaking mountain and lake views from a swing with a glass of wine and a good book, or by a roaring fire. I even lived in a log cabin in Big Canoe, GA, year-round, a beautiful resort, located in the foothills of North Georgia Appalachians, an hour north of Atlanta with over 8,000 acres of mountains.
(Even though I have the beauty of the ocean, in South Florida; however, my perfect world would be a log cabin and a beach cottage). Big Canoe also has a history; the Indians referred to the mountains and valleys as "The Enchanted Land." Something magical about this part of North Georgia attracts people to it.
Highly recommend IN WILDERNESS, and look forward to reading more from this gifted author!
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