Nature. In troubled times it’s a salve. I’m lucky. I have a little pocket of nature here to help me through the most troubled time I’ve known in my longish life. It’s not a wide expanse, but it’s enough. Across the road the reedy bank of the Derwent harbours families of native hens, as well as the water birds that grace the river. Raptors are often on patrol above and smaller birds flit about our lawns. It’s not the vast acres of Southern swamp-lands that Kya Clark has at her disposal but, with what else I have, it’s enough and I’m thankful for that.
For most of her life Kya, aka the Swamp Girl, had been an unknown, fleeting figure for the small communities in her region – sometimes talked about, but rarely seen. As a result of her notoriety, she soon becomes a suspect contributing to the death of a local fellow. The evidence linking her to it is flimsy, but will it be enough?
By the age of six her mother and siblings have deserted her, succumbing to the rages and drunkenness of their father/husband. He remains with her for a while, actually pulling himself together to do some nurturing, but soon returns to default and bails on her too. She’s alone but, despite her tender years, has attained enough savvy to eke out an existence. With her own troubled times showing no signs of departing, she becomes a child of nature, finding solace in the seasonal rhythms of her watery world.
Eventually some tenuous relationships form with other humankind – the protective coloured couple who run the local supply shop; then a generous, supportive lad ventures into her wilderness and becomes a companion. She allows him to take the mantle of also progressing to being her teacher of sorts as she’s only ever known one day of schooling. But even Tate deserts her in the end. Then she turns to Chase. With him, though, for a while she has some hope. Sure enough, Swamp Girl discovers he was only using her for bragging purposes. After him the world closes in on her.
Delia Owen’s world wide best seller sings off the pages as it too flits around. It darts in and out between the time periods of Kya’s semi-isolated life and the investigation into the death at the fire tower. Reese Witherspoon has optioned it so it will be interesting to see if a movie or tele-series emerges. It’s a perfect fit for our own time of semi-isolation and I had no trouble returning to this tome to while away the hours as we wait for the curves to peak and flatten.
The author’s website – https://www.deliaowens.com/