Book Review: Woman in the Wilderness by Miriam Lancewood

Friday, March 31, 2017

Title: Woman in the Wilderness
Author: Miriam Lancewood
Publication Date: March 29th 2017

Synopsis: "This inspirational story of adventure and bravery tells how one woman learned to dig deep and push the boundaries in order to discover what really matters in life.

Miriam is a young Dutch woman living a primitive, nomadic life in the heart of the mountains with her New Zealand husband. She lives simply in a tent or hut, and survives by hunting wild animals and foraging edible plants, relying on only minimal supplies. For the last six years she has lived this way, through all seasons, often cold, hungry and isolated in the bush. She loves her life and feels free, connected to the land and happy.

There's a lot of drama out there in the wild, and Miriam knows how to spin a good yarn. This is a gripping and engaging read reminiscent of both adventure writing like Wild and nature writing like H is for Hawk, and is perfect for anyone exploring the idea of living a more authentic, real life."

My thoughts: I was definitely interested in the premise of this book - I have really gotten into nature writing in the last year or so (and H is for Hawk has been one of my favourite forays into that genre), so I definitely wanted to give this one a go.

At first I was a little underwhelmed, honestly. Lancewood's writing initially came across as a little confused, and the statements she made to describe others often had me scratching my head as to what she meant. The dialogue also came across as kind of stilted and I was worried I had made a bit of a mistake here.

But then I had a few nights - thanks to an illness not letting me sleep regular hours - where I sat down and could only read for a while, and then I really started to get into this book. I started to really appreciate Lancewood's direct descriptions and the way she would describe the landscape. The discussions she had with her husband, while they never quite lost that slightly stilted quality for me, were interesting and I found a lot of what they discussed were things I find myself thinking about - the dependence that seems to be inherent in relationships, where happiness comes from for different people, whether we have completely lost touch with the natural world.

I got quite lost in this book. I appreciated Lancewood's honest portrayal of learning to hunt for meat when she had been a vegetarian for most of her life, and how she still confronts it from time to time, unsure of what way is correct. Lancewood isn't making overall rules for living 'a good life' here, she is simply showing what works for her, what makes her happy. For others, her way of life may seem a little extreme, but to her it makes sense and gives her freedom. And that is something I enjoy reading about.

[I received a review copy of this book from Allen & Unwin in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!!!]

A favourite line from the book: "I walked into the white forest. The beech trees with their evergreen leaves were bending under the heavy snow. I saw little paw prints in the white carpet" possums had been running around in the night. The snow absorbed all sounds and everything was soft, silent and new."

You would like this book if: You enjoy nature writing; you like books with wilderness and fierce honesty.

Tea to drink while reading this book: Billy tea, I think. Tea made through actually boiling water over the fire perhaps. Or something fresh and herbal, like fresh mint leaf tea.

Rating:  9/10

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  1. I like your inclusion of a favourite line! Sounds wonderful.

    1. Thanks! That's one of my favourite parts of the review now, too.


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