My Last Continent
This unforgettable debut, set against the dramatic Antarctic landscape, is “refreshingly different, vivid and immediate. Midge Raymond has an extraordinary gift for description that puts the reader bang in the middle of its dangerous and endangered world” (M.L. Stedman, New York Times bestselling author of The Light Between Oceans).
It is only among the glacial mountains, cleaving icebergs, and frigid waters of Antarctica that Deb Gardener and Keller Sullivan feel at home. For a few blissful weeks each year they study the habits of Emperor and Adelie penguins and find solace in their work and in one another. But Antarctica, like their fleeting romance, is a fragile place, imperiled by the world to the north.
Each year, Deb and Keller play tour guide to the passengers on the small expedition ship that ferries them to their research station. But this year, when Keller fails to appear on board, Deb begins to reconsider their complicated past and the uncertainty of any future they might share. Then, shortly into the journey, Deb’s ship receives an emergency signal from The Australis, a cruise liner that has hit desperate trouble in the ice-choked waters of the Southern Ocean. Soon Deb’s role will change from researcher to rescuer; among the crew of that sinking ship, Deb learns, is Keller.
As Deb and Keller’s troubled histories collide in this “original and entirely authentic love story” (Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project), Midge Raymond takes us on an unforgettable voyage deep into the wonders of the Antarctic and the mysteries of the human heart. My Last Continent is “a sensitive exploration of how the smallest action can ripple through an ecosystem—seemingly impenetrable, but as fragile as the human heart” (The Minneapolis Star-Tribune). “Atmospheric and adventurous...The story and vivid writing will keep readers glued to the pages” (Library Journal).
Raymond's (Learning English) first novel is both a complicated love story and an education in the plight of penguins in Antarctica, showcasing the beauty and terror unique to one of the world's most remote terrains. The many facts about penguins are compelling, though the book veers dangerously close at times to being a jeremiad on the effects of humans on the birds' now precarious lives. At the heart of the story is the complex relationship between Deb Gardner, a penguin researcher, and Keller Sullivan, a former Boston attorney whose tragic home life is the catalyst for his escape to Antarctica, moving up the ranks to become a nature guide. While the author skillfully captures the stunning and singular landscape and its special inhabitants, her depiction of the human relationships are less successful: from the frustrating on again, off again nature of Deb and Keller's partnership (they are primarily only together in Antarctica during tourist season), to one tourist committing suicide because of his wife's infidelity and another tourist couple's stereotyped arguments about their readiness for parenthood. There's also a later plot point that's a dud. Still, Raymond's novel has its high points, and will appeal most to environmentally minded armchair adventurists.
Excellent writing, excellent story. I highly recommend this book.