Paperback: 488 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction
Publisher: Harper Collins 2005
Source: Oxfam Charity Bookshop
First Sentences: The wind blew straight off the frozen bay. It was thickened with sleet but the man working on the skelton roof didn't seem to notice the cold, or the way the flecks of ice drove into his eyes.
Review Quote: 'The majesty and hostility of the landscape leap off the page.' Daily Mail
My Opinion: A rare glimpse of an amazing world.
Rosie Thomas is not only an author but a keen traveller and mountaineer which has provided her with excellent and well researched material for her novels. To research the Antarctic background for Sun at Midnight Rosie spent a month living with the scientists on a Bulgarian research station on Livingstone Island, off the Antarctic Peninsula.
I am a long time fan of her writing although I still have to catch up with her most recent novels. With Sun at Midnight I was immediately engrossed in this adventure and love story that is set in Antarctica and gave me a rare glimpse of an amazing world. The author's personal research pays off as it shows in her writing as I really felt transported to the location from page one. In fact to quote from her website ' she believes that her travelling and writing are interdependent, and that one informs and enables the other.'
Having raved over the atmospheric setting of the novel I had better give you a brief outline of the story without spoilers of course. The theme is a familiar one for Rosie Thomas that of love and loss but it works as it is the stronger background settings that for me personally make her novels so readable.
The female protagonist is Alice Peel a geologist and daughter of a famous scientist who had worked in Antartica. It is due to her mothers failing health that Alice is herself given the opportunity to take part in a research programme herself. In sharp contrast to her normal life in Oxford she finds herself on-board a ship in a desolate landscape about to enter the realm of the unknown and unpredictable. Nothing has prepared Alice for the stark beauty of this place or for the realities of living in close confinement with a small group of people, just one other woman besides herself. It is with James Rooker, a man on the run his entire life and another member of the expedition, that she finds she has a spark with, like she has never felt with anyone before. The characters are all realistic with well portrayed personalities. As the claustrophobic tension builds amongst the people living and working together in this isolated research station, it is the present moment and survival that matters most. Their behaviour and reactions to the environment and situations they find themselves in may be a little implausible, it is their personal reactions that are more believable. Alice discovers something about herself in Antarctica that may change her life for ever if she survives the experience. Whilst saying that the human reactions were more believable, it does not mean you will necessarily agree with them, but I think you will understand them.
I recommend Rosie Thomas to women that are looking for more than romance in their reading. She is a writer whose style of writing is now appealing to a new generation of young women as well as those of us that have been reading her novels since the early eighties.
Other reviews of titles by Rosie Thomas to be found on LindyLouMac's Book Reviews
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