Paperback: The Solitude of Thomas Cave, by Georgina Harding

Bloomsbury £7.99 (237pp)
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The Independent Culture

Though based on "an unsubstantiated anecdote", Harding's hypnotically enthralling novel about a man who spends a year on an icy outcrop to win a wager in 1616 is utterly persuasive. Blasted by Arctic winds, the bleak location reflects Cave's desolation at the loss of his wife in childbirth. Described with poetic precision, his perseverance and resourcefulness pay off, but his return to England brings him to the realisation that he has left a place of abundance: "In its cold way, it was a paradise... And then we came with our killing and saw devils there." This is anadventure yarn with unexpected resonance for our own time.