SOLE SURVIVOR by Derek Hansen


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Charming misfits-in-paradise idyll from British-born, Australia-based novelist Hansen, in which love and kindness bloom improbably among three social outcasts on a remote corner of New Zealand’s Great Barrier Island. Hansen’s turn at the eternal triangle begins when Rosie Trethewey, a spunky, pre-feminist divorced psychologist, takes a break from her job as an Auckland marketing researcher for toilet-bowl cleaning products to investigate a cottage bequeathed to her by a former patient. Rosie discovwers the shack on the wild southern tip of Great Barrier Island. Despite its awkwardly located outhouse and refractory woodstove, she finds its isolation an answer to unvoiced prayers. But her arrival provokes confusion in her oddball neighbors Red O’Hara, a handsome but demented workaholic survivor of a Japanese POW camp, and Angus McLeod, a misanthropic retired policeman who works off his repressed paternal urges by writing children’s books. Fearing that Rosie will usher in the civilized complications they dread, Angus and Red dismiss her as an ignorant woman not cut out for the rigors of wilderness life. Such treatment only inspires Rosie to stay, proving Angus wrong, and nurture Red’s wounded psyche, if not take him to bed. Rosie achieves every goal, though not without moments of comic discomfort (men keep interrupting her every time she wants to soak in the tub) and visits from the breezy but not sleazy Navy Lt. Commander Michael “Mickey” Finn, who, in addition to sharing Rosie’s bed, wants Red to get proof that the wily Japanese Captain Shimojo Seiichi is fishing illegally within New Zealand’s territorial waters. Red ‘s discovery of a cache of military explosives gives the bickering islanders the power to blow Seiichi sky-high. Paced so slowly that it might as well have been written on island time, but, still, Hansen’s feel-good screwball romance is sufficiently sexy and exotic to build him a stateside following.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-684-85407-4
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1999