The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah #TheGreatAlone #KristinHannah @panmacmillan @bookbreakuk #BookReview

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Originally published: February 2018 (This edition January 2019)

Author: Kristin Hannah

Published by: Pan Macmillan

Genre: Historical Fiction

Length: 448 pages

Reading dates: 3-9 May 2023

A woman has to be tough as steel up here. You can’t count on anyone to save you and your children. You have to be willing to save yourselves.

Thirteen-year-old Leni is coming of age in a tumultuous time. Caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, she dares to hope that Alaska will lead to a better future for her family, and 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.

As Leni grows up in the shadow of her parents’ increasingly volatile marriage, she meets Matthew. And Matthew – thoughtful, kind, brave – makes her believe in the possibility of a better life . . .

With her trademark combination of elegant prose and deeply drawn characters, Kristin Hannah celebrates the remarkable and enduring strength of women.

I read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah back in 2016 and loved it so why it has taken me quite so long to read another of hers, I don’t know! I’m taking part in a challenge on Instagram where we read a book a month by some of our neglected authors = books we have rushed out to buy because we love an author which has then languished on our shelves for months or probably years! The Great Alone was my choice – but even when I picked it up, I was a bit reluctant. It’s quite a long book (for me) at 450 pages and the type face is tiny and I feel the pressure of all the other books I have to read for deadlines…excuses, excuses! But I loved it!

The Great Alone starts in the early 1970s as Leni turns 13. She lives with her mum and dad (Cora and Ernt) but she has an unsettled life style – her dad was captured in Vietnam and suffers from mental issues because of the way he was treated. When one of his friends from Vietnam dies, he leaves Ernt a cabin in Kaneq, Alaska. The thought of living off the land appeals to him so they up sticks and move there, not having a clue about how to survive in one of the world’s most desolate and isolated places.

They are soon taken under the wing of the locals who school them in the art of surviving the Alaskan winter – something they need to spend the rest of the year preparing for. Leni is thrilled to find there is a small school and there she meets Matthew and they become good friends. When Matthew suffers a loss, her leaves town for a few years but they stay in touch and when he returns, the pair fall in love. But Matthew’s father is hated by Ernt and the two know it won’t be easy for them.

Set over several years, this story has everything going for it. It is sad yet hopeful, tense at times and paints a wonderful picture of Alaska – a place that is beautiful but also dangerous and bleak. Cora suffers at the hand of Ernt who frequently looses his temper and beats her and Leni is frightened of him, and tries to persuade her mother to leave. Cora always refuses telling Leni how much she loves him and how he can’t help the way he is.

It was interesting to read about a character who was in the Vietnam war and how his experiences lead to paranoia and the distrust of almost everyone. The scenes of domestic violence are horrifying to read about which we know are caused by Ernt’s experiences but he is still a character who is hard to find any sympathy for.

I absolutely loved the sense of community – how the people barter, trading supplies and services with each other. And despite Leni’s family being new, they are accepted immediately and are looked after by a wonderful group of people.

A brilliant coming of age book, set in a place and time I knew little about. I thoroughly enjoyed Leni’s story and was routing for her. Now hopefully, it won’t be too long before I enjoy my next Kirsten Hannah book – I’m so glad I picked it up. It is exactly the sort of story that will stay with me.

Thank you to Book Break and Pan Macmillan for my gifted copy.

About the author:

Kristin Hannah

Kristin Hannah is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, which was named Goodreads Best Historical fiction novel for 2015 and won the coveted People’s Choice award for best fiction in the same year. It was named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and The Week. In 2018, The Great Alone became an instant New York Times #1 bestseller and was named the Best Historical Novel of the Year by Goodreads.

The Four Winds was published in February of 2021 and immediately hit #1 on the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Indie bookstore’s bestseller lists. Additionally, it was selected as a book club pick by the both Today Show and The Book Of the Month club, which named it the best book of 2021.

The Nightingale is currently in production at Tri Star, with Dakota and Elle Fanning set to star. Tri Star has also optioned The Great Alone and it is in development. Firefly Lane, her beloved novel about two best friends, was the #1 Netflix series around the world, in the week it came out. The popular tv show stars Katherine Heigl and Sarah Chalke and Season Two is currently set to conclude the series on April 27, 2023.

A former attorney, Kristin lives in the Pacific Northwest.



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