Review by Lindsay Denninger

My Last Continent by Midge Raymond
Scribner
June, 2016. Hardcover.
ISBN: 978-1501124709


Who knew that love could be so isolating? In My Last Continent, Summerset Review contributor Midge Raymond explores the troubled love between Deb Gardner and Keller Sullivan, two people who only feel at home while in the most extreme conditions—living in Antarctica. Deb studies the habits of emperor and Adélie penguins and Keller goes along for the ride after suffering intense personal tragedy. Their relationship, at times, feels as fleeting as the Antarctic weather.

I'm a sucker for a non-linear novel, and Raymond does an exceptional job playing with time. This is Raymond's first novel, and though there are many prolific novelists that can't make this wibbly-wobbly timing structure work, Raymond excels. The gravitational center of the book is the sinking of the Australis, a cruise liner that goes too far south and runs into trouble with an iceberg. The rest of the work happens pre- and post-shipwreck—one month before, fifteen years before, four hours before—and it creates a beautiful narrative that's as harrowing and uncertain as both the shipwreck and Deb and Keller's relationship.

As we read of Deb's history with Keller and everyone else on her expedition, a well-rounded protagonist is created that many thrillers lack. Raymond's prose is beautiful and vivid, and as Deb slowly realizes that Keller went out to help the doomed cruise ship, it seems to quicken. Deb's panic is the reader's panic, and Deb's realizations hit at the same time as the reader's.

Equal parts love story, ecological disaster, and thriller, My Last Continent is both atmospheric and accomplished, and it's the perfect way to transition into the upcoming icy months.