Best-selling “Nightingale” author comes with new saga
“I’m thrilled to put into your hands the most honest exploration of both human frailty and resilience that I have ever read,” St. Martin’s Executive V-P and Publisher, Jennifer Enderlin says about Kristin Hannah’s novel, “The Great Alone.” The publisher is betting the bank on this one.
Hannah writes evocative woman’s sagas, and her previous novel, “The Nightingale,” about two sisters surviving Nazi-occupied France, was No. 4 on the New York Times best-selling fiction list for 2017. She speaks in UNC Asheville’s Humanities Lecture Hall, Feb. 16.
“The Great Alone” begins with young Leni Allbright lying in bed before going to her new junior high school, hearing her parents argue about her father’s alcoholism. The family moved around a lot. Ernt had been a Vietnam POW. When Leni tells him, “You’ll get another job,” he says, “Sure I will, Red. Tomorrow will be better.” Then, a miracle occurs. Dad’s old comrade’s mother offers him her dead son’s Alaska land and home; and the Allbrights move again.
By page 93, the dread starts to build up. Leni has witnessed her father getting drunk and resentful at a community barbecue. And an Alaskan winter was coming. It’s “terrible and beautiful,” her friend (and developing heartthrob) Matthew tells her. “It’s how you know if you’re cut out to be an Alaskan.” “The Great Alone,” Leni calls the place, referring to the Robert Service poem.
It’s not random that Leni becomes a Stephen King fan after an avalanche of horrifying events. “She’d rather have nightmares about Randall Flagg or Carrie or Jack Torrence than about her own past,” Hannah writes about Leni. The actual ups and downs and novel-ending revelations in Leni’s life are genre tropes, a surefire formula when wedded to an exotic setting and a sincere voice.
Malaprop’s Bookstore and UNCA’s Great Smokies Writing program presents a conversation between Great Smokies Writing Program teacher Christine Hale and Kristin Hannah, author of “The Great Alone,” 6 to 8 p.m., Feb. 16, 2018, in the Humanities Lecture Hall, UNC Asheville. Each ticket, priced at $34, comes with a pre-signed copy of The Great Alone; and is available at Malaprop’s or online.