Thursday, 3 May 2018

The Word for Woman is Wilderness by Abi Andrews

After reading lots of biographies and psychological thrillers I was looking for something a little different; and The Word for Woman is Wilderness is just that.

In Abi Andrews' first novel, 19 year old Erin decides that if Bear Grylls can embark on all sorts of exciting adventures so can she (even if Bear Grylls did not have to deal with a Mooncup).  Ignoring the fact she knows nothing about said wilderness and has been living a sheltered existence with her parents in suburban England, she sets off for Alaska by land and sea.

Even on those documentary channels that do programmes on whole families homesteading in the wilderness the woman is always Mountain Man’s wife, never, ever Mountain Woman, just an annexe of the Mountain Man along with his beard, pipe and gun.

Erin records her experience on video along the way for a future documentary, and often this novel reads like non-fiction.  The author Abi Andrews drew inspiration from the actual documentary of  Christopher McCandless who lived off the grid in Denali National Park in Alaska (and tragically starved to death).  Unable to take the journey to Alaska herself due to study commitments and wondering how different this journey would have been for a woman, Andrews wrote about it instead.

The Word for Woman is Wilderness is a Millennial feminist take on nature and travel writing.
Let's be honest, the main character Erin irritated me at times (because I am old), but this did not detract from an original, well researched and timely  novel.  Erin shares with the reader a stream of consciousness on all sorts of issues; nuclear arms, history, writers, nature, psychology and indigenous rights.

If this sounds all too serious rest assured there is a lot of wry humour in these musings also, with  sub-heading like: More space where nobody is than where anybody is; and:
Chivalry isn't dead, men just get sick of ungrateful b*****s (my stars not the author's as she endures unhelpful mansplaining on why she should not be travelling alone).

All in all an absorbing and insightful wilderness read with lots of fascinating ruminations.

Catalogue link:  The Word for Women is Wilderness

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