My Last Continent
By Midge Raymond
Scribner Book Company, Hardcover, 9781501124709, June 21, 2016, 320pp.
The Short of It:
A highly readable story touching on the environmental impact of tourism upon Antarctica and its native penguins.
The Rest of It:
If you’re not familiar with Midge Raymond, you ought to be. Years ago she asked me to review a collection of short stories titled (Forgetting English) and it was one of the first short story collections that I read and actually enjoyed. The stories were so well-developed, which is what I worry about when reading short stories. Will I feel satisfied after reading them? Yes. In this case, yes.
My Last Continent is her first novel and it’s actually an expansion of one of my favorite stories from Forgetting English, (The Ecstatic Cry). In this novel, we meet Deb Gardner who has been studying the habits of penguins in the frigid waters of Antarctica. Year after year she returns and takes great pleasure in the solitude that her research provides. But at times, it does get lonely so when she meets and falls in love with Keller Sullivan, she’s conflicted. Can you have a successful relationship with someone when your research takes you to one of the most remote areas of the world?
I read this book in a day. It’s smart, makes you think about the impact of tourism on wildlife and has a little bit of something for everyone. There’s a bit of romance, a little science and a terrific, harrowing account of a ship sinking (not a spoiler).
The most impressive thing about this book is the handling of the timeline. The story bounces back and forth in time, sometimes by hours and sometimes by decades, but it’s executed so well. I had no problem moving between chapters and I found myself fully immersed in the landscape Raymond depicts.
If the summer heat is already beating you down, pick this one up because as soon as you step into the world that Raymond creates, you’ll cool off pretty fast and learn something new in the process. Plus, hello! Penguins. How can you resist?
Source: Review copy provided by the author.
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