This was a beautifully written and powerfully emotive novel for me. This was another of the rare type of book which really makes me slow down and absorb every word of. This gave me the same kind of feeling as recently read The Octopus and I by Erin Hortle. There is something in the way these stories are written that draws me in and speaks to a deep part of me.
There were some really beautiful passages that spoke of the plight of our environment and the part we as humans have played in its destruction.
I asked Niall once what he thought happened to us after we die, and he said nothing, only decomposition, only evaporation. I asked him what he thought it meant for our lives, for how we spend them, for what they mean. He said our lives mean nothing except of the cycle of regeneration, that we are incomprehensibly brief sparks, just as the animals are, that we are no more important than they are, no more worthy of life than any living creature. That in our self-importance, in our search for meaning, we have forgotten how to share the planet that gave us life.
We are a plague on the world, my husband often says. Today there is a huge landmass to our left, and it surprises me because there is no land on the chart I’ve been studying. As we draw close enough to see, I realise that it’s an enormous island of plastic, and there are fish and seabirds and seals dead upon its shore.
It is set in a time that might not be far off if the world continues the way it has.
It is a story of deep love, hope, grief, despair, of unspeakable loss, and of searching for that elusive thing. The story is about Franny Stone, she is lost and broken and separated from the love of her life Niall. She is on a mission, to follow the last of the Arctic Terns on what may be their last migration. The birds are just incredible in the journey they make from one end of the earth to the other, an innate knowing that they follow to get there.
The story jumps from the here and now to moments in the past, 12 years ago, 4 years ago, and a few other important snippets in between. We uncover the love story between Niall and Franny, a deep, deep love, but one with flaws and heartbreak, we uncover the story of Franny’s past and we learn of the extinction of just about every animal, bird and fish species on the planet.
There is an event that happened 4 years before, an event that was devastating in some way and ended in tragedy and jail time for Franny, this is slowly uncovered as we read, but it is not until the final chapter that the complete story is finally revealed and we truly find out exactly what happened, it was not something I had been able to guess at the whole way through. To say the ending threw me into all kinds of emotions is an understatement.
Franny manages to get a ride on one of the last fishing vessels operating in the world. The crew are an interesting bunch of people, all have chosen that life for different reasons, all are afraid of what is going to happen now that there are literally no (very few) fish left in our oceans. Denial though is still a part of these people’s lives, just like the many people in denial about climate change and the loss of our environment and animals.
I loved this novel, and it touched me deeply and had some important messages contained within.
Thanks to Better Reading Previews for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.
8 thoughts on “New Release Book Review: The Last Migration by Charlotte McConaghy”
I appreciate your reviews Claire as I’m an avid reader myself but only want to read ( and purchase) good literature nowadays. Interesting how our tastes refine as we go along the journey.
You’re a pretty good writer yourself – is there a book in you??
Mary from Spearwood
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Thank you Mary, I don’t think there’s a book in me, though I’d like to write more poetry. My tastes have definitely changed. Even more so this year. I’m finding I don’t enjoy some books as much that even last year I really enjoyed.
Sounds as beautiful as I expected!
It really was 💞
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Hello Claire Louisa; very interesting review. I enjoyed Niall’s take on mortality – until recently the same as my own. I find now I’m asking more questions of myself and others on this topic.
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I’m glad it resonated. Interesting that yours has changed, obviously something has happened to change your viewpoint. I think it’s good to ask questions and get other people’s take on things. We never stop learning and growing.
Wonderful review Claire. It’s on my to buy list.
You definitely should I hope you enjoy it.