My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is such a ‘readable’ novel. The scenery, beautifully described and lovingly recreated, made me want to get outdoors and set off on an adventure with Cobb and Mary. One of my favourite things about this book is the setting – and I love the fact that it varies. I felt caught up in the magic of the Allagash River and in staying with the Chungamunga girls, and with meeting Annie and John and having a cosy dinner in the warm out of the storm. And similarly I loved the contrasting setting of the Indonesian trip – swimming with turtles and basking in the heat. I love summer and I love the cold and cosiness of winter – and Monninger really wrote in a way that appealed to my senses.
A basic run down of the plot is that Mary and Cobb are both teachers and they begin their story (though not at the book’s beginning, as this is a story that opens at the end and then skips back to the start to tell the complete tale) as strangers. They meet as they are both about to start out on a kayaking trip, separately, on the Allagash River in September. They fall in love straight away but Mary has a secret that will effect how their future pans out…
The main characters Jonathan Cobb and Mary Fury are a delightful couple and their story carries you through with much empathy for them and enjoyment in their times of happiness and experiences together. I loved how they met, and I loved how it was completely natural – I believe this exactly is how it is when you meet your soulmate, or a great love. And Monninger definitely captured that brilliantly. The way that Mary and Cobb spend their days was inspiring – sleeping out under the stars at every opportunity even when Mary is in the height of her illness.
Negatives for me were that at times I felt the character of Mary was slightly over the top knowledgeable – I appreciate that the reason she was supposed to be able to recall numerous facts was firstly because she was an extraordinary academic, and also because she made herself commit so much to memory as a test for herself. However, I just found it slightly hard to believe. Secondly, at times I felt the love-making scenes were just a bit vomit-inducing. I love a good love story but I could already sense their deep love for each other – I didn’t need the details in this novel.
These were minor niggles and overall I enjoyed reading the story of Mary and Cobb and missed them when the book was finished!