The Wilderness

  • by Samantha Harvey
  • Narrated by Sean Barrett
  • 10 hrs and 43 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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 60s, 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, for 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 are becoming 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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What the Critics Say

"Moving through a rich, protean mental landscape, Jake recalls and reinvents his life's themes and passions... Using recurrent, simple images - the flash of a yellow dress, freckled eyelids - Harvey beautifully, patiently ushers Jake forward to the last flicker of recognition; the whole a stunning composition of human fragility and intensity." (The Guardian UK)
"A treat for literature lovers who appreciate complexity in their novels and aren't afraid to deal with tough topics." (Library Journal)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Beautifully written and narrated

Tackling the unusual subject of a man's battle with Alzheimer's in a sympathetic and believable way, this is a complex book that requires maximum concentration throughout, but in the end it is more than worth it. The topic is lovingly handled, Barrett's narration is the most convincing I have heard, and the 'reader' can not help but find their perceptions of this debilitating disease have been challenged as a result.
If you're after thrill-a-minute action and suspense, this story is not for you. If you are after something thought-provoking, moving and challenging, this book is worth every cent. It is the kind of book I may well play all over again, just to go back through the early chapters from a position of having heard the whole story, as I am sure there would be much that I missed. Not many books make you want to do that.
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- Kim

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-22-2009
  • Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks