Saturday, January 25, 2020

Kingdomtide by Rye Curtis

I can't even begin to describe this novel. It was definitely not what I expected when I picked it up at the library last week. I thought it was about a woman's survival in the wild after a plane crash. Well, that's a big part of it, but there's a lot more, and most of that had me scratching my head. 

It's September, 1986 and  seventy-two year old Cloris Waldrip and her husband are flying to a small cabin in the Montana mountains for a weekend getaway. They've traveled from Texas and this is the first vacation they've really had in years. 

They never make it to the cabin. The small plane they are in crashes in the Bitterroot Range, a particularly brutal wilderness in Montana. Cloris is the only survivor. What follows is Cloris' struggle to find her way out of the wilderness and to safety. With minimal tools to help her survive, she is sure to die before help arrives. Yet somehow, Cloris finds help in the wilderness, and with her own will to survive, you know that Cloris is going to make it. Her tale, told twenty years later from ninety-two year old Cloris' apartment in a retirement home in Vermont, is astounding and shows the power of fighting to survive in the worst of circumstances. 

The other side of this story involves Ranger Debra Lewis, who lives and works in the Bitterroot Range. She's a mess--so much of a mess that I had a permanent wince on my face whenever the story turned to her. She's a divorced raging alcoholic. Lewis has bottles of merlot everywhere, and she spends her days drinking wine out of a thermos while working out of the ranger office and driving the mountain roads. It's a lonesome job, and she's got no one. She hears about the plane crash, and even though the pilot and Mr. Waldrip are found dead, Lewis is convinced Mrs. Waldrip has survived and is out in the wilderness somewhere. She decides to pull together a ragtag team of people to start a search for Mrs. Waldrip. It quickly becomes an obsession. 

I've got to say this wasn't at all the novel I expected it to be. I thought it would be a tale of one woman's survival--a woman vs. nature kind of tale. It was that, for sure, but the rest of it was just downright weird. Ranger Lewis and her motley rescue crew are all damaged people with no hope of rescue. And honestly, Lewis' consumption of merlot kind of made me queasy after awhile-and I love wine! So many lost souls. Mrs. Waldrip is one amazing lady, who looks back at her life and ponders decisions she made. She's got plenty of time to reflect, and her aloneness is so very different from Lewis and crew. 

I would love to discuss this novel and talk it out with someone else who has read it. It left me unsettled and uneasy; maybe because the theme of loneliness is overwhelming, and there isn't really a happy ending, or even a peaceful ending for any of the characters. 

Rating: 4/6 for a novel that is about human survival at the most basic level, and also survival when you are lost in the wilderness in your head. Very odd characters, but Mrs. Waldrip's epic adventure is amazing and keeps you reading. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 


  1. This plot sounds like one I haven't encountered before so it is creative, but it sounds like a book I might like a lot or not at all.

    1. It is definitely unique! I really liked Cloris' journey. It's pretty amazing. The other side--it's also interesting, but in a very different way. I guess both Cloris and Debra are just trying to find their way out of the wilderness.