The Stranding, by Karen Viggers

In the corner, his suitcase leaned lid-open against the wall. Everything he’d brought with him was still packed in there. The wardrobe remained empty. In truth, he was afraid of unpacking. Unfolding his clothes and hanging them up might signify ownership of this place. It might mean permanence of some sort. It might mean he had become someone else. Another person with another life.
But wasn’t that why he had come here? Wasn’t that why he had left?

When Lex Henderson’s life falls apart, he leaves the city and buys a beach house outside a small town. Here he can be alone, or so he thinks. But soon he starts to make connections in the town of Merrigan. Some people like him, others detest him, and others still fascinate him.

As he recovers, Lex builds new and unexpected friendships, and slowly builds a new life far removed from his old one. He also meets Callista Bennett, whose own stormy past makes their relationship volatile and very fragile.

When Lex and Callista find a whale stranded on a remote beach, the subsequent rescue attempt brings them together at the same time as it challenges their beliefs and their understanding of each other.

The Stranding is a finely tuned novel of grief and recovery, of confronting the past and moving forward. Challenged by the natural world and the society in which they live as well as by their pasts, the characters must find a way to balance these challenges with the need to carry on with living.

A wonderful read.

The Stranding, by Karen Viggers
Allen & Unwin, 2008