Publisher: Random House LLC
Publication Date: 3 March 2015
Format: Hardcover, 320 pgs
In Wilderness, in short, tells a story of the encounter between two lonely damaged people in the wilderness and how, despite their differences in everything, finds a strange connection in each other and begins an obsessive and a dangerous love affair.
Set in the 1960s, the story opens with our female protagonist, Katherine Reid, leading a blissful life. She has a doting husband and they work together in an ad agency. Tim will be the main person to get projects and handle most things while Katherine will mainly focus her attention on the designing part. And the most glorious thing is, they are expecting a baby!
But, that glorious moment is short-lived, as we can later tell from Katherine's depression as she'd lost her baby. Their blissful marriage collapsed and it is no later that Katherine learnt she's only got six months to live. She decided that fleeing from the city and her past would be a good way to spend her last remaining months; thus she answers to a property ad and soon finds herself in an isolated cabin on a mountaintop.
Danny MacLean, our other protagonist, is a twenty-year-old Vietnam veteran who lives not far from Katherine's cabin. Haunted by war and his past, he becomes fixated on Katherine. What started out as an observation and curiosity soon leads to an obsession that gets more intensifying the deeper they go.
I wished I could express my thoughts clearly and eloquently after closing this book but at this moment while typing this, my mind was a blank because I was still reminiscing over the author's beautiful writing and this haunting, unforgettable story of Katherine and Danny. I found their emotions so raw and pristine and one couldn't help but to... empathise with them?
The author has wonderfully captured their voices and emotions into words that I felt they were not fictional characters but flesh and blood people like you and me. I didn't know what to describe of the feelings they'd for each other - are they two disturbed minds who were there at the right time or is there something more to it? And at times, I couldn't tell if what they felt or did was right or wrong, just that their worlds simply collided and exploded. Katherine's life is somewhat wasted by her sorrows and sickness, while Danny is haunted by the war; the death of his best friend and Army mate and then hearing that his high school sweetheart had gotten engaged.
I think this is the kind of book which you either love it or hate it. Subjects aside, there is also not much dialogues given their (cat-and-mouse) situations; at least not in the first half of the book. On the contrary, the second half was full of mixed emotions and intensity, and yes there were actions too which made me feel like I was reading a thriller of some sort. The conclusion was a dynamic one; an ending which I'd suspected and expected. So was it a beautiful story? Yes and no. It was a very unusual love story, but then there is nothing beautiful and romantic about obsessive love, no matter how harmless it may seem to be. For this, I blamed it on Danny's PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), which according to the author's note, was unrecognised at that time.
Finally, I shall leave you a few quotes which give you a gist of the author's writing:
"None of us - not them, not she herself - is meant for solitude. We crave attachments. When we can't make them among live things we attach unnaturally to something else." ~ Pg 132
"Desire can be a comfort to slide into, a warm bath that gently nudges you and rocks you. But when it quickens, it's a knife." ~ Pg 133
"This time is different. As are the rest, each from the others. Different in the way all clouds are different. Or all people. Or all fingerprints. He knows that that's the way of it, no two will ever be the same." ~ Pg 186