Sole Survivor

Derek Hansen, Author
Derek Hansen, Author Simon & Schuster $25 (432p) ISBN 978-0-684-85407-6
Reviewed on: 03/01/1999
Release date: 03/01/1999
Hardcover - 608 pages - 978-0-7322-5747-7
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7871-1876-1
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-684-86325-2
Hardcover - 978-0-7531-0853-6
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A spirited woman invades the solitude and solidarity of two male residents of a New Zealand backwater bay in Australian novelist Hansen's (Psycho Cat) newest mixture of adventure and romance. Abandoning her claustrophobic life as a mainland marketing representative, Rose Tretheway moves into a cottage she has inherited on remote Wreck Bay on the coast of the Great Barrier Island. There she encounters hostile neighbors: Red O'Hara, a former WWII POW in Burma, who is barely functional, and Angus McLeod, a crusty Scottish ex-policeman who retired to the island to write children's books. Tretheway quickly begins a problematic affair with the shell-shocked O'Hara and then indulges in a fling with a local naval officer. Her romantic life gets more complicated when the curmudgeonly McLeod, after trying to force her off the island, does an about-face and tries to talk her into having a child, hoping to live out his parenting fantasies as a secondary father figure behind either O'Hara or the officer. Real life intrudes on the romantic antics in the form of a poaching Japanese fishing trawler that threatens both the livelihood of the inhabitants and the delicate ecology of the island. The narrative chugs along effectively despite some dubious scenes that call into question the motives of the various protagonists, and despite a climax that's downright bizarre. Hansen does a fine job of depicting island life in the 1960s, and he invents an appealingly idiosyncratic cast of characters, but much of this long and ponderously narrated book fails to generate suspense. Agent, Jillian Manus. (Mar.)
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