Review: ‘The Stranding’ by Kate Sawyer


Ruth, a teacher, lives in London. She works, she drinks, she falls in love. Her life isn’t simple or straightforward and the news around her, which she eschews, is increasingly bleak.

As her relationship disintegrates, Ruth decides to leave everything behind to travel to the other side of the world, hoping to work with whales in New Zealand. On arrival, however, the news that Ruth has been ignoring has now become inescapable. Away from all she knows and with no hope of survival, Ruth climbs into the mouth of a beached whale with a stranger.

When they emerge, life – and the world – has changed forever.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy for review.

The Stranding‘ isn’t the kind of book I would usually pick up but something about it intrigued me and I was hooked from page one.

Told through dual timelines, we see Ruth trying to create a new life following a catastrophic global event – and the life experiences that brought her to this point. ‘The Stranding’ is beautifully written and is a meditation on family, femininity and reinvention.

I really liked that, although this huge world-altering event happened, Sawyer never delves too deeply into it, simply choosing to allude to certain possibilities. Another great thing about this novel is that it doesn’t stray too far from its focal point: the characters.

Kate Sawyer has created believable, nuanced characters who engage the reader and stay with you beyond the span of the book. I spent the time I wasn’t reading this book thinking about it. I suspect I will spend the rest of my life thinking about parts of this incredible novel. The scene in the airport between Ruth and her parents will stay with me forever.

Overall, ‘The Stranding‘, although terrifying at times, is hopeful and optimistic, championing the triumph of the human spirit against all odds.

Vic x

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