Friday 20 August 2021

The Wild Heavens

Finished August 13
The Wild Heavens by Sarah Louise Butler

This first novel, by a B.C. author is a winner. The main line of the story takes place over a 24-hour period, but the narrative also reaches into the past, all the way back to childhood. Sandy (Cassandra) Langley never knew her father, and when her mother died when she was young, her grandfather, Aidan Fitzpatrick, took her in. Aidan had a defining moment when he was a young man, one that resulted in him leaving his faith, and turning towards a life based in science and nature. He bought the land near where he'd had this experience and spent a lot of time in his cabin there in the interior of B.C. He carved a life-size statue of the creature he encountered and called it Charlie, a name that would become a codename for the creature among the small group of people who he shared the knowledge with. He became a large animal veterinarian, and both worked as a vet and taught. When he adds his granddaughter to his household, it is shortly after giving shelter to a victim of domestic abuse, Eva, and her son, Luke. Luke is around the same age as Sandy and the two soon became companions and studied together, first homeschooled and later taking the long trip into town for school. 
In the present day narrative, Sandy's children have left home and she lives alone in the cabin. The sound of a whiskey-jack wakes her in the night and she follows a trail up the nearby mountain and along the ridge, through the snow and mulling over the changing nature of the trail that she follows and various incidents from her past.
This story was mesmerizing, emotional with a touch of the otherworldly, with a deep basis in nature and the awe that experiencing it brings us. It is a story of yearning, of love, of relationships. A story of loss and of hope. As we gradually learn Sandy and Aidan's stories, and see their lives unfold, we care about what happens to them and wonder along with them about Charlie and his fate. 
A beautiful book.

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