A man plans a final journey into the Western wilderness in this “wonderful” novel by the New York Times–bestselling author of Snow Falling on Cedars (The Miami Herald).
Mid-October is harvest time in the Columbia Basin of central Washington, a rich apple- and pear-growing region. Ben Givens, recently widowed, is a retired heart surgeon, once admired for his steadiness of hand, his precision, and his endurance. But now he has been diagnosed with terminal colon cancer. Ben has never been a man to readily accept defeat—but he is determined to avoid suffering, and to avoid being a burden.
Accompanied by his two hunting dogs, he sets out on a trip, which he plans to end with an “accident.” Journeying into deserts, yawning canyons, dusty ranches, and vast orchards, however, he is unprepared for the persuasiveness of memory and the promise he made to his wife, Rachel, the love of his life, during World War II. Along the way Ben will meet some people who force him to think more about his worldview—a young couple, a drifter, a veterinarian, a rancher, a migrant worker—and just when he thinks there is no turning back, nothing to lose that wasn’t lost, his power of intervention is called upon and his very identity tested.
“Wise and compassionate about the human predicament . . . A writer who delves into life’s moral complexities to arrive at existential truths.” —Publishers Weekly
“Ben is deeply drawn and complexly sympathetic.” —Entertainment Weekly
“Guterson draws compelling characters and creates a haunting sense of place and of humankind’s paradoxical relationship with the natural world; a passage describing a desperate encounter with a pack of Irish wolfhounds compares favorably with the best of Hemingway.” —Library Journal
“Guterson possesses a remarkable gift for capturing people and places, etching them into the reader’s mind.” —USA Today