Their need for spiritual flight is understandable – backwards, through a life of shared memories; then on to Iceland, to find solace in an environment more primal than Wind in the Willows – but the narrative often lacks a compass. Still, there is a luminous conviction to the prose, and their odyssey through Iceland is profound. As Moth’s condition worsens – he holds up a Mars bar one day to find it embedded with shards of his teeth – Winn appears to surrender something to “a land in transition… a place where the Earth is born and life begins”. Ultimately, she draws hope, and shares it – allowing us to see how the planet’s “fixed impermanence” can make bearable our own.
Despite being a book that describes a horrible death and where one of the main protagonists is terminally ill, The Wild Silence is heartening and comforting. The nature writing is beautiful and it is a thrill to read about Iceland, but it is more that Raynor and Moth come across as such nice people. You’d like to meet them on a coastal path or in the cooking hut near an Icelandic volcano. You feel the world is a better place because they are in it. You hope that Moth continues to defy the odds and that they both have lots more life to enjoy on the cider farm.