The two books reviewed here are
The Girl at the Window by Rowan Coleman
The Last Wilderness by Neil Ansell
I borrowed both these books at the same time as Your Inner Hedgehog.
The Girl at the Window
The reason I picked The Girl at the Window from the large selection of fiction was that Joanna Cannon had endorsed it. The story was quite different from what I expected, having a supernatural element. The tragedies of earlier times had left their mark on the house mentioned in the strapline: A house full of history is bound to have secrets…
The stories of past and present residents are well told as a mystery is delved into by the protagonist. The research into the work of an archivist was incorporated into the story so well that I felt the author had firsthand experience until I read the Acknowledgements. The end of the story is happier than I expected.
The Last Wilderness
The Last Wilderness: A Journey into Silence was in my favourite section of the nonfiction books. The cover and the ‘Shortlisted for the Wainwright Golden Beer Book Prize 2018’ sticker had me hooked. Neil Ansell may be well-known to you if you watch TV, but I hadn’t heard of him. The Last Wilderness describes his visits, during a year in which his health was not good and his hearing was deteriorating from a low starting point, to a remote area of Scotland.
Alongside his descriptions of the terrain and its wildlife he reminisces about parallel experiences in other parts of the world. This is a book which draws the reader into the story. There is adventure, chance meetings and information about wildlife from someone who has spent lots of time alone observing animals and birds. The writing drew me into the story by painting vivid pictures of the scenes and their effect on the author.
The area of Scotland where it is set is one that I have had glimpses of from the road, but not explored on foot due to the difficulty of the terrain. Because the book is autobiographical in nature, the reader knows that the author lived to tell the tale in spite of some mishaps.