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," (Vogue) "heart-pounding," (NPR) and "highly original" (LA Times) novel of tough-minded resilience.
Longlisted for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize
A New York Times New and Noteworthy Book
An O, The Oprah Magazine Best Book of January
The sole survivor of a plane crash, seventy-two-year-old Cloris Waldrip is lost and alone in the unforgiving wilderness of Montana's rugged Bitterroot Range, exposed to the elements with no tools beyond her wits and ingenuity. Intertwined with her story is Debra Lewis, a park ranger struggling with addiction and a recent divorce who is galvanized by her new mission to find and rescue Cloris.
As Cloris wanders mountain forests and valleys, subsisting on whatever she can scavenge, her hold on life ever more precarious, Ranger Lewis and her motley group of oddball rescuers follow the trail of clues she's left behind. Days stretch into weeks, and hope begins to fade. But with nearly everyone else giving up, Ranger Lewis stays true until the end.
Dramatic and morally complex, Kingdomtide is a story of the decency and surprising resilience of ordinary people faced with extraordinary circumstances. In powerful, exquisite prose, debut novelist Rye Curtis delivers an inspiring account of two unforgettable characters whose heroism reminds us that survival is only the beginning.
Curtis's intense debut pairs two narratives, one of which is better realized than the other. The more urgent and successful story is that of feisty 72-year-old Cloris Waldrip, a staple of the Methodist church in the little town in the Texas Panhandle where she and her husband of 54 years live. On their way to a fishing vacation in Montana in 1986, their tiny plane crashes. The plane's pilot and Cloris's husband are killed, leaving her stranded in the wilderness of the Bitterroot Mountains. Her grueling attempt to survive and escape is depicted with vivid urgency. She becomes an object of obsession for forest ranger Debra Lewis and a small crew of misfits who help her with the search. While Lewis does her best to locate Cloris, whom she is convinced against all evidence is still alive, she is hampered by a bureaucracy that doesn't want to devote any more money to the search. As a result, she spends much less time searching than downing bottle after bottle of merlot, suffering through a dysfunctional sexual relationship with a search-and-rescue guy brought in for the hunt, and lusting after the guy's troubled teenage daughter. Cloris's gritty, nightmarish story, as well as her strong voice and personality, will make her a reader favorite. Though uneven, this story of survival will keep readers quickly turning the pages. \n
I enjoyed reading this story of friendship and survival. To say the rescue crew was a group of misfits is being polite. It’s a must read.