Spellbinding. Poignant. Inspirational.
Brimming with the naturalism of Barbara Kingsolver and the authenticity of Anne Tyler, this book reached and filled a Covid-fueled paucity I wasn’t fully aware of.
“What was there to be afraid of in this place where everything was as you saw it – naked and enduring because it knew no other way?”
A group of middle-aged friends, accompanied by the anorexic and troubled daughter of one of the friends, hike across the Tsitsikamma national park in South Africa, and along the way, learn about friendship, love, fear, compassion, and the wonder of the open-hearted wilderness inside each of us.
Derek – an obnoxious bully, married to Faye, herself a sweet and unassuming woman, always willing to put others needs before her own.
Geoffrey – a landscaper and nature lover, married to Michelle, and father of Clare, a twenty- year old dealing with the anguish of her own self-imposed isolation and complicated relationship with self, shame, and nourishment.
Diane, – life-long friend of Michelle and Derek – who is unwilling to cover up the lies and deceit she sees unraveling.
The ensuing hike, now a journey of life-changing proportions for each of the characters, is fraught with danger, compassion and most of all, for our main protagonists, – introspection, and solace. The beauty and urgency of the natural world presented startled me in the vividness of its resonance, and its impact on the characters, as they faced the challenges presented, was mesmerizing.
“(The trees) had not only sheltered her, but also revealed to her a sanctuary she’d take away and keep forever”
Interspersed with up-close observations of the South African wilderness in all its glory, including plants and trees, as well as encounters with leopards, baboons, aardvarks, antelopes, boars, birds and reptiles, I did not want to leave this world, and the primacy of its reach.
“It was possible to unclaim a part of herself and let the world in. That unlocking had also set some things free, and it was good. It was possible,she thought, that the nature within her was a beautiful as the nature around her.”
My stop on the #blogtour today for #thewildernesswithinher by @pennyHaw
A big thank you to the author and the publisher for an ARC of this beautiful book. All thoughts presented are my own.