When his father dies, leaving behind a legacy of debt and failed businesses, Evan Cadwallader is doubtful that the derelict cottage in the foothills of New Zealand’s Southern Alps will provide a solution but decides to visit anyway. He falls in love with the simple property and its remote location and he tends and repairs it, creating a still oasis away from the loose and shifting life he leads in the world outside. He retreats there every summer, prospecting for gold at the claim that has been left to him by a passing stranger. Out on his claim on a stormy night his dog goes missing, and,following her frantic barks through a devil of a storm,he finds himself on a gorge edge, halfway down his claim, looking at the body of a young woman.Addie is close to death but Evan carries her to his cottage,and as he nurses her back to health, gradually pieces together the story of her life. Evan is torn between his growing feelings for Addie and the pull of his claim but as the gold begins to flow, they draw ever closer to each other and for a few glorious weeks they thrive. However Evan returns to the cottage one day to find the place ransacked and Addie gone. Frantic with worry he reports the break in to the police and events spiral out of control. His faith falters and he begins to wonder how well he really knows this mysterious young woman, and whether love and truth have ever truly coexisted within this brief and intense affair.
Set in the remote Southern Alps of New Zealand we meet Evan Cadwallader along with his dog Viva.
Evan has been escaping to these remote parts since the death of his father. Having not had a close relationship with his dad he is surprised to learn of a cabin and claim his father owned and used for many years. Since doing repairs to the cabin Evan has been visiting yearly and dredging for gold, making enough money to make it worth while but mainly to seek refuge and solitude.
I found Evan a lovely character. Quiet, considerate, but with a string of failed relationships behind him, a man who has clearly found forming lasting and solid partnerships hard.
One night during a storm Evan is out trying to find Viva who has yet to return to the camp, he hears her barking and finds her whimpering over the body of a young woman. Seemingly close to death and with no radio or phone signal Evan decides to brings her back to the cabin. The story continues as the woman, Addie, recovers and Evan begins to have feelings for her.
I thought this was a wonderfully written story, subtly exploring the emotions and character of Evan and learning little by little of the character of Addie and trying to work out who she is and why she was out lost in such remote parts.
The simple descriptions of the day to day life these to begin to have at the cabin was enchanting and well written, whilst at the same time running along side the tensions and suspense created by Addie and with Evan’s almost deliberate naivety and his suspension of disbelief at who Addie is and if there could possibly be a future for them together.
The setting and remoteness of the area was wonderfully described and made an huge contribution to the story. The solitude, possible dangers and also the beauty shone through reminding me a little of Jane Harper’s novels set in Australia. I also loved the parts where they went out in search of gold. The details in the equipment they used and the mechanics behind it all were both interesting and entertaining.
It is perhaps a slower paced novel but this is necessary I felt to appreciate the setting and to explore the dynamics between the characters. The ending has a nice twists yet brings the book to a believable and satisfying end.
The Claim is published by Red Door Books and is out now! Thank you to the publishers for my copy.