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An Orange Prize Finalist
A Man Booker Prize Nominee
Winner of the 2009 Betty Trask Prize
A Guardian First Book Award Nominee
Jake is in the tailspin of old age. His wife has passed away, his son is in prison, and now he is about to lose his past to Alzheimer’s. As the disease takes hold of him, Jake’s memories become increasingly unreliable. What happened to his daughter? Is she alive, or long dead? Why is his son imprisoned? And why can’t he shake the memory of a yellow dress and one lonely, echoing gunshot?
Like Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, The Wilderness holds us in its grip from the first sentence to the last with the sheer beauty of its language and its ruminations on love and loss.
and felt incensed. “I've got no idea what you're talking about, Rook, and to be honest I don't even believe you. Why would Helen tell you that when she hasn't told me? It doesn't make sense. You never make sense.” Rook shrugged and wandered away from the wall. “Believe me or not.” “Why wouldn't she tell me?” “Everybody has a secret life,” Rook whispered. He took a red leaf from the hedge he was standing next to and burnt regular holes into it with his cigarette. Then he pushed it up against
papers—elegant long-necked cranes with wings bent and poised for flight. Rook refused. “Too old. You shouldn't smoke that, you bad children.” Fuck off, Rook, he thought happily. With a hazy concentration he inspected the long tight roll of tobacco. So much more interest in an object you have no word for. He inhaled more before passing it to Eleanor. His mind was milky and he wasn't sure how he came to be here, where Helen had gone, where Rook had come from. Having worked his way through much
cast aspersions. A person's morality is a two-way journey, whether they appear good or bad depends only on which leg of the journey you catch them on, she said. He had contested: he did not care whether the prisoners really were good or bad—this wasn't a question for the likes of him. He only took the agreed assumption and acted to it. Perilous, she sniffed, and lifted her arm above her head to sleep. “We should call them Conception Events,” Helen said now as she got into the car. “Trying for
dropped some whiskey into Eleanor's mug and then his own. “You'll die of the cold,” he said, rubbing her back briskly. “Won't,” she smiled. Her hair was stuck to her face, her nose and cheeks red. “Seems arrogant doesn't it,” he said, picking up his shovel again. “To think that we, with these bits of metal, can fight back all that snow.” Eleanor leaned forward heavily on the shovel and scrunched her nose. “Not really.” She gazed at him as if preparing to go on, but then looked away and
thought she would look vital in it, sexy and modern. There was also a pair of silk tights which Joy said were the new thing—where stockings were fiddly and uncomfortable and no good for miniskirts, tights were a second skin. He held them up by the waist and looked at their weird shrivelled form in some dismay, but then pictured them stretched over Joy's legs, over his wife's legs, and he wrapped them into a ball with a wry smile. After a week—the minimum time needed, he guessed, without Helen