The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
The Great Alone
by Kristin Hannah
St. Martin's Press (February 6, 2018)
Advance review copy provided by publisher
After having read five of Kristin Hannah's novels, I expected her most recent publication, The Great Alone, to be emotionally heavy and beautifully written; it is most certainly both of those, yet I am left feeling rather conflicted.
In the first half of the novel, those of us who have no knowledge of the history of Alaskan homesteaders are in for vividly explicit descriptions of the extreme winter conditions and endless summer days. Hannah does an incredible job of harnessing her own personal memories of Alaskan adventures and translating them into a captivating narrative, full of characters with potential for development.
By the half way mark, I began to make some predictions (several of which materialized by the end) and feel a little less enchanted with the Alaskan wilderness and the ongoing domestic violence; much of this is due to a transference of personal beliefs/challenges on this topic, so readers should be aware of this trigger.
This novel is dense: not only in page count, but also in characters, narrative and possibilities. There were times, while reading, when I could not imagine how this story would draw to a close; I sent a message, after completing the novel, to friends Sarah at Sarah's Book Shelves and Susie at Novel Visits to say that I thought the 76% mark (I read an electronic copy) would have been the perfect opportunity for a conclusion.
While there were elements about this novel that I enjoyed - the descriptive writing, the setting, most of the characters the dynamics of their relationships - I would have traded some of the extended story in the last few chapters for a little more character development and nuance.