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Book review: Kingdomtide by Rye Curtis

Main pic: Paul Schafer/Unsplash

Review by Lesley Thomson

“The lives of two women — the sole survivor of an airplane crash and the troubled park ranger leading the rescue mission — collide in this “gripping” novel of tough-minded resilience (Vogue) and The Oprah Magazine Best Book of January 2020

Cloris Waldrip is 72 years old, a spunky lady from Amarillo, Texas, with strict old-fashioned morals, a devout Methodist and flying with her husband, whom she always addresses to others as Mr Waldrip. They are in a tiny aeroplane, nervous as they had only flown once before, and worried that they may have left the pantry light on. They crash among the remote thickly forested mountains of Montana.
Forest Ranger Debra Lewis, is a hard-drinking lady trying to forget a messy divorce and betrayal of her ex-husband.

Cloris survives the plane crash, though Mr Windrip and the pilot do not. Cloris calls for help over the radio which is initially heard by Debra and her colleagues. As the days stretch into weeks, and the hunt proves unsuccessful despite a couple of minor clues, the rescue team want to abort the search. Debra is convinced Cloris is still alive and makes it her mission to find the old lady.

Survival and resilience

Using her wits and ingenuity, help comes to Cloris from the most unlikely place. And she has the dilemma; does she really want to go back to her previous way of life?

Kingdomtide is not an ordinary story of survival, but rather one of resilience of ordinary people faced with extraordinary circumstances. It is a story of kindness and moral complexity. Intertwined in the novel are some rather strange characters, all with a reason to be there.

Rye Curtis, in this debut novel, delivers an inspiring and powerful account of two unforgettable characters whose heroism reminds us that survival is only the beginning.

**ISBN 978-0-00-831770-6 Published by HarperCollins UK/Jonathan Ball rrp R305

More reviews by Lesley Thomson on The Meander Chronicle

Book Review: A Long Petal of the Sea

Review by Lesley Thomson

Isabel Allende‘s latest is a rich novel of wonderful characters intertwined with the history of Chile, while portraying the love of the people and the country.

The story starts with Victor Dalmau, a medic in the Spanish Civil War. Describing the horrors and anguish of families in the war, there is also untold heroism. Like many who disagreed with the reasons for fighting, he escapes to France and the horrific concentration camps that have been set up for refugees.

Victor eventually finds Roser, who was carrying the child of his late brother Guillem. To protect Roser and the child Victor marries her, thus enabling them both to set sail on the SS Winnipeg for Chile and a new life.

The account of the SS Winnipeg, sponsored by the much revered and loved Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, is an amazing chronicle that enriches this book. Neruda is greatly admired by the author Isabel Allende, who quotes from his evocative poetry introduce each chapter.

Historical facts

In Chile, Victor plays chess with Allende, a duly elected president, who is replaced in a coup by Augusto Pinchocet’s dictatorship. The historical facts are true, as are the people.

Victor and Roser embrace their new lives in Chile, overcoming homesickness, hardships, political upheaval, torture and imprisonment, caring for Roser’s son Marcel, and Victor studying to become a qualified doctor. War breaks out in Europe with world-wide repercussions.

Victor and Roser, though initially a marriage of convenience, grow to love each other deeply and grow old together. A Long Petal of the Sea – the shape of Chile – is a engrossing, and yet informative, tale of resilience, honour and love. Once again Isabel Allende has enchanted her readers.

**ISBN 978-1-5266-1591-6 Bloomsbury/Jonathan Ball Publisher. Recommended retail price, R275

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