It was World Penguin Day when I started reading My Last Continent by Midge Raymond. I had not realized how perfectly timed my choice was. Raymond's novel is a love story, the love between star crossed lovers and their mutual love of penguins and the Antarctic.
|from the author's blog|
Deb and Keller are penguin researchers whose love affair flourishes only during their brief weeks together in Antarctica. Their off-season work is on opposite sides of the county, Driven by their need to make a difference and to save the penguins, both are willing to risk everything, even their lives and each other.
Shadows of Antarctic explorers are seen everywhere, foreshadowing the novel's climax.The ghosts of lonely deaths haunt the desolate landscape. Robert Falcon Scott's hut stands undisturbed. "I may be some time," said Capt. Oates as he left the tent shared with his imperiled Scott expedition explorers. He never returned. Deb's lover in passing, Dennis, likewise wandered off to his lonely death after being left behind by his tour boat.
The solitude of the icy desert, the isolation, soothes Deb. Part of Deb wants and needs solitude. Part of her fears dying alone. The memory of an emperor penguin who died alone haunts her. Female emperors leave their eggs under the male's care while she takes off to fatten up for nursing the chick. The males huddle together during the long months of darkness until nearly starved. Human males aren't programmed like the emperors. Before meeting Keller Deb had been alone, for what male was going to wait at home while she took off every year?
"Great God! This is an awful place," Robert Scott wrote in his journal. Tragedy comes into Deb's life and for the first time she realizes the depth of despair that prompted Scott's desperate cry. Keller's ship has hit an iceberg and is sinking and Deb is compelled to search for her beloved mate in the thrilling climax of the novel.
Antarctica is more than the backdrop for the novel, it is a living character. A hundred years ago the explorers vied to be the 'first'; today tourists tick it off as the last of continent visited. The environmental destruction and pollution that comes with tourism, overfishing, and climate change all endanger the penguins. Raymond manages to educate readers through the characters and the action.
I loved this book. It is so original in concept and the writing is beautiful.
I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
My Last Continent
by Midge Raymond
Publication Date June 21, 2016