“Alaska brings out the best and the worst in a man.”
Ernt Allbright is a former Vietnam veteran who has been having trouble adjusting to civilian life. He can’t keep a job, constantly uproots his family, and has a tumultuous relationship with his wife, Cora. Caught in the middle is their daughter Leni, who has to deal with always being the new kid in school and the constant fighting from her parents.
It wasn’t always like this. Before Ernt went to war, the family had a stable and happy life. But when he came back Ernt was “moody, quick to anger, and distant.” Then, one day, something happened that changed the course of their lives. They receive a letter stating that they have inherited property in Alaska. A friend Ernt fought alongside in Vietnam — and a friend he watched die —wanted Ernt to have his house when he passed. Optimistic and ready for a fresh start, the family packs up everything to head to the great Alaskan frontier.
Things are great at first —Ernt and Cora appear to be in love again, the family is welcomed warmly by their community, and Leni has a budding romance with one of the locals. However, the harshness of winter and isolation begin to take a toll on the family, and Ernt slowly slides back to his old ways… only worse.
As she did in The Nightingale, Hannah continues to write complex and captivating family dramas. The drama is heightened by the narrator, Julia Whelan, who is also known for reading other best-sellers like Gone Girl and The Wife Between Us. What makes The Great Alone a standout audiobook, is the balance between Hannah’s description of the beauty and brutality of the Alaskan wilderness coupled with Whelan’s knack for building suspense and tension.
Hannah drew inspiration from her own adventurous family in writing The Great Alone. Her father moved to Alaska to start the Great Alaska Adventure Lodge, where her family has worked for three generations. Listen to Hannah record the acknowledgments to learn more about her story.