I started reading The Solitude of Thomas Cave some weeks ago, but I put it down after just one chapter. Not because I didn’t like it – quite the opposite! I was so taken by the ideas, the prose, the images forming in my head, that I wanted to save the book for just the right day when I could get completely lost in it.
That day came a week ago and The Solitude of Thomas Cave has been echoing in my mind ever since.
The story begins in 1916, with a whaling ship sailing away south from the icy seas around Greenland. Winter is approaching, and yet a man has been left behind.
An argument among the crew provoked Thomas Cave into a bet with another crew member – that he could survive the winter alone in the Arctic. His fellow seafarers have little hope for his survival and try to dissuade him, but he is determined to remain behind. And so they leave him, with just basic shelter, food and supplies.
That was the opening chapter that captivated me.
The following chapters watch Thomas Cave, as he struggles to come to terms with not only the Arctic winter and with the pain and loss in his past that led him to the Arctic.
In the spring the Heartsease returns. What the crew find and what happens then it would be unfair to say. But what I can say is that the story remains intriguing right to the end.
The Solitude of Thomas Cave is a simple story quite beautifully told. Georgina Harding writes lovely prose – simple, but so evocative.
She paints wonderful pictures, and the chill and the isolation of Thomas Cave’s world are quite tangible.
And the story has so much to say. About man’s ability to survive, and indeed to do extraordinary things. And about his relationship with the world he lives in.
So this is a book with everything I look for – a captivating storyline, beautiful prose and thought-provoking ideas.
If only all books were like this!