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The Wilderness

The Wilderness

Hardback

By (author) Samantha Harvey

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  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape Ltd
  • Format: Hardback | 336 pages
  • Dimensions: 142mm x 223mm x 27mm | 465g
  • Publication date: 5 February 2009
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0224086073
  • ISBN 13: 9780224086073
  • Sales rank: 711,434

Product description

It's Jake's birthday. He is sitting in a small plane, being flown over the landscape that has been the backdrop to his life - his childhood, his marriage, his work, his passions. Now he is in his early sixties, and he isn't quite the man he used to be. He has lost his wife, his son is in prison, and he is about to lose his past. Jake has Alzheimer's. As the disease takes hold of him, Jake struggles to hold on to his personal story, to his memories and identity, but they become increasingly elusive and unreliable. What happened to his daughter? Is she alive, or long dead? And why exactly is his son in prison? What went so wrong in his life? There was a cherry tree once, and a yellow dress, but what exactly do they mean?As Jake, assisted by 'poor Eleanor', a childhood friend with whom for some unfathomable reason he seems to be sleeping, fights the inevitable dying of the light, the key events of his life keep changing as he tries to grasp them, and what until recently seemed solid fact is melting into surreal dreams or nightmarish imaginings. Is there anything he'll be able to salvage from the wreckage? Beauty, perhaps, the memory of love, or nothing at all? From the first sentence to the last, "The Wilderness" holds us in its grip. This is writing of extraordinary power and beauty.

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Author information

Samantha Harvey was born in England in 1975. She has lived in Ireland, New Zealand and Japan writing, travelling and teaching, and in recent years has co-founded an environmental charity alongside her novel writing. She completed with distinction the Bath Spa Creative Writing MA course in 2005, where she was shortlisted for the PFD prize. The Wilderness is her first novel.

Review quote

Winner of the 2009 Betty Trask PrizeShortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2009 Longlisted for the Guardian First Book AwardLonglisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize "A haunting, intelligent novel, crowded with powerful characters, told in a language that is never ordinary, but always clear and elegant." --Tessa Hadley, author of" The Master Bedroom" and" Sunstroke and Other Stories" "It used to be thought that Alzheimer's unspooled the brain in the precise order in which it had grown, a decline that matched, plot point for plot point, childhood development-a kind of neural "Curious Case of Benjamin Button." As the English novelist Samantha Harvey suggests in "The Wilderness," her brave imagining of the disease, it's less linear and more complicated. There are moments of clarity; there is the persistence of desire; there are enduing long-term memories that remain after there is no capacity to recall what was for breakfast or if there was breakfast or what the thing called breakfast is... While most books about Alzheimer's are written from the outside looking in, this one stays within the ever-narrowing parameters of Jacob's mind.., Earlier in her life, Samantha Harvey studied philosophy, and that training is felt here, where the nature of truth is as much the protagonist as Jacob Jameson himself, and Alzheimer's disease is equally villain and muse. Every life is a mystery, Harvey seems to be saying, even to the one whose life it is."--"New York Times Book Review" "In the glut of novels being published at the moment a really exciting debut is as rare as it ever was. Samantha Harvey's first novel is an extraordinary dramatization of a mind in the process of disintegration. ["The Wilderness "is] brilliant-- read it now, before it scoops up all the prizes."--"The Times" (UK) "Moving through a rich, protean mental landscape, Jake recalls and reinvents his life's themes and passions... Using recurrent, simple images