Tag Archives: Kristin Hannah

‘The Great Alone’ by Kristin Hannah

From the author of The Nightingale, comes a spellbinding novel set in Alaska, inspired by the author’s own experiences.

Ernt Allbright, a former POW, comes home from the Vietnam war a changed and volatile man. When he loses yet another job, he makes an impulsive decision: he will move his family north, to Alaska, where they will live off the grid in America’s last true frontier. Thirteen-year-old Leni, caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, dares to hope that a new land will lead to a better future for her family. She is desperate for a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if it means following him into the unknown. At first, Alaska seems to be the answer to their prayers. In a wild, remote corner of the state, they find a fiercely independent community of strong men and even stronger women. The long, sunlit days and the generosity of the locals make up for the Allbrights’ lack of preparation and dwindling resources. But as winter approaches and darkness descends on Alaska, Ernt’s fragile mental state deteriorates and the family begins to fracture. Soon the perils outside pale in comparison to threats from within. In their small cabin, covered in snow, blanketed in eighteen hours of night, Leni and her mother learn the terrible truth: they are on their own. In the wild, there is no one to save them but themselves.

A compulsively readable, powerful novel of survival, love, beauty, brokenness, and redemption. The pace of this novel is unrelenting, with multiple twists and turns, and much of the time you feel you can cut the tension with a knife. The harshly unforgiving yet breathtaking beauty of Alaska are cinematic, and the exploration of human frailty and resilience are riveting. I’d be surprised if this isn’t made into a movie.

‘The Nightingale’ by Kristin Hannah

The NightingalestarstarstarstarIn love we find out who we want to be. In war we find out who we are.

Two sisters caught in the turmoil of the second World War–one who follows the rules and one who rebels. Both become extraordinary workers in the resistance movement in occupied France and find out what it can take to survive but also find the strength to help others. They have opportunities to be heroic and brave, they are faced with terrible choices between evils which will continue to haunt them, but mostly they display the remarkable courage it takes to simply put one foot in front of the other and somehow make it through another difficult day.

This novel is not just another war story but one with a focus on women in war. I loved how the book explores the tough choices and challenges of everyday citizens caught in a horrific situation. I loved how different the sisters were, each choosing their own unique path. I loved the ending and found this a compelling and satisfying read, much like Tatiana de Rosnay’s Sarah’s Key.