Page Count 352
Publication date June 2021
Ruth lives in the heart of the city. Working, drinking, falling in love: the rhythm of her vivid and complicated life there is set against a background hum of darkening news reports from which she deliberately turns away.
As a new relationship becomes increasingly claustrophobic, and the discussions of impending political crisis are harder to avoid, she starts to dream of water; of escaping entwining tentacles through deep blue seas. She sets out to the other side of the globe to find that vision of freedom, and to decide who she wants to be when she returns.
But when she arrives at her destination, she finds instead that the world, and life, she left behind no longer exists.
I picked up The Stranding many months ago when it first appeared on Netgalley. Initially drawn in by the cover, it sat on my TBR never reaching the top title despite my intention to always review at release. I glanced over a few comments on Goodreads and ended up convincing myself I probably wouldn’t like it after all.
I was wrong.
The Stranding is an absolutely beautiful story, covering the arc of Ruth’s two lives. The ‘Before’ and the aftermath of an unexplained apocalyptic event.
Having been fascinated by whales from childhood, Ruth travels from England to New Zealand after a slow building epiphany leaves her desperate to do something meaningful- help save the whales.
Yet the whale would be the saviour of this story. Sheltering from the apocalypse aside a local stranger inside the belly of a beached whale, Ruth emerges into a desolate new world.
There is immeasurable difference between the Ruth we meet as the story begins, who she was before and who she becomes. Her character development is some of the best I’ve ever encountered.
Although bleak and at times heart-sad, I found The Stranding was an uplifting feel good read. I understood Ruth’s insistence on avoiding news reports wherever possible, having spent the last two years as we all did I’ve also found myself reluctant.
The Stranding isn’t a genre I usually stray into but on this occasion I am glad to have ventured outside my normal.
Get yourself a blanket by the fire and cosy up for this one.