My Last Continent: A Novel

My Last Continent: A Novel

by Midge Raymond


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An unforgettable debut with an irresistible love story, My Last Continent is a big-hearted, propulsive novel set against the dramatic Antarctic landscape—“original and entirely authentic love story” (Graeme Simsion, author of The Rosie Project).

It is only at the end of the world—among the glacial mountains, cleaving icebergs, and frigid waters of Antarctica—where Deb Gardner and Keller Sullivan feel at home. For the few blissful weeks they spend each year studying the habits of emperor and Adélie penguins, Deb and Keller can escape the frustrations and sorrows of their separate lives and find solace in their work and in each other. But Antarctica, like their fleeting romance, is tenuous, imperiled by the world to the north.

A new travel and research season has just begun, and Deb and Keller are ready to play tour guide to the passengers on the small expedition ship that ferries them to their research destination. But this year, Keller fails to appear on board. Then, shortly into the journey, Deb’s ship receives an emergency signal from the Australis, a cruise liner that has hit desperate trouble in the ice-choked waters of the Southern Ocean. Soon Deb’s role will change from researcher to rescuer; among the crew of that sinking ship, Deb learns, is Keller.

As Deb and Keller’s troubled histories collide with this catastrophic present, Midge Raymond’s phenomenal novel takes us on a voyage deep into the wonders of the Antarctic and the mysteries of the human heart. My Last Continent is packed with emotional intelligence and high stakes—a harrowing, searching novel of love and loss in one of the most remote places on earth, a land of harsh beauty where even the smallest missteps have tragic consequences—“Half adventure, half elegy, and wholly recommended” (Karen Joy Fowler, author of We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves).

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Raymond’s (Learning English) first novel is both a complicated love story and an education in the plight of penguins in Antarctica, showcasing the beauty and terror unique to one of the world’s most remote terrains. The many facts about penguins are compelling, though the book veers dangerously close at times to being a jeremiad on the effects of humans on the birds’ now precarious lives. At the heart of the story is the complex relationship between Deb Gardner, a penguin researcher, and Keller Sullivan, a former Boston attorney whose tragic home life is the catalyst for his escape to Antarctica, moving up the ranks to become a nature guide. While the author skillfully captures the stunning and singular landscape and its special inhabitants, her depiction of the human relationships are less successful: from the frustrating on again, off again nature of Deb and Keller’s partnership (they are primarily only together in Antarctica during tourist season), to one tourist committing suicide because of his wife’s infidelity and another tourist couple’s stereotyped arguments about their readiness for parenthood. There’s also a later plot point that’s a dud. Still, Raymond’s novel has its high points, and will appeal most to environmentally minded armchair adventurists. (June)

Karen Joy Fowler

There is a romance about faraway, desperate places, about isolation, about ice and snow. Add penguins and you have Midge Raymond’s elegant My Last Continent, a love story about the Antarctic and the creatures, humans included, who are at home there. Half adventure, half elegy, and wholly recommended.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune

"A sensitive explorarion of how ever the smallest action can ripple through an ecosystem—seemingly impenetrable, but as fragile as the human heart."

M.L. Stedman

My Last Continent feels refreshingly different, vivid and immediate. Midge Raymond has an extraordinary gift for description that puts the reader bang in the middle of the action, bang in the middle of its dangerous and endangered world. Her clean, spare prose pulls us irresistibly into the story and the wider issues it raises. She is clearly a writer in command of her craft.”

The Seattle Times

You turn the pages quickly, caught up in the not-of-this-world drama of it all: Despite the heat of the central duo’s connection, this is a world of ice, where warm hearts struggle to thrive. ... Raymond shines in capturing a shivery sense of place, in taking us somewhere most of us will never go. ... Romantic? Absolutely. Ominous? That, too.

New York Times Book Review

[A] meditative romance.... Raymond has shown us a continent worth visiting.

Book Riot Swapna Krishna

Gorgeously written, suspenseful literary fiction.

The Oregonian

"A luminescent, double-layered love story: It's a love story about nature, in which a woman is drawn repeatedly to Antarctica and the vulnerable creatures who make their lives there. And it's a love story about two people who have found in the remote ice the perfect numbing refuge from their pain."

Graeme Simsion

My Last Continent is an original and entirely authentic love story. It is a love triangle with Antarctica as the third party, literally and metaphorically. Midge Raymond takes us, physically and emotionally, into an unfamiliar world—a world that has much to teach us. She deftly interweaves a compelling drama with a gentle and subtle love story. It's a mature novel, one that recognizes that love is seldom simple or exclusive, and that the things that bring us together can also keep us apart.


At once a high-stakes romance and a cautionary tale about the precariousness of this pristine polar world, Raymond’s masterful debut contemplates the ecological and emotional dangers that lurk within and without uncharted waters.


At once a high-stakes romance and a cautionary tale about the precariousness of this pristine polar world, Raymond’s masterful debut contemplates the ecological and emotional dangers that lurk within and without uncharted waters.

Kirkus Reviews

Short story writer Raymond (Forgetting English, 2009) ventures into the world of the novel with an atmospheric tale of love discovered, and losses endured, in Antarctica. In a narrative that shifts back and forth over the course of several years, the love story of Deb Gardner and Keller Sullivan unfolds against the forbidding, but eerily gorgeous, backdrop of the most desolate continent. Deb, a penguin expert aboard an ecotourism cruise ship, returns to Antarctica often to study her beloved flightless fowl and educate tourists about the tremendous toll modern living has exacted upon the penguins' fragile habitat and the birds themselves. Keller, more newly arrived on the Antarctic ecotourism scene, shares her passion for the environment but takes a less politic approach to educating adventure-seeking tourists about the damages done to the glacial destination. Each has sought out the remote location for reasons slowly revealed, but, ultimately, the pair shares a passion for the polar setting that becomes inextricably entwined with their passion for each other. As the couple's motives for seeking out the isolation provided at the bottom of the world are revealed, so are their efforts at forging a connection sturdy enough to withstand the attacks of time and distance. The unpredictability of the splendors and terrors of life at the southern pole creates a backdrop of foreboding entirely appropriate for the story's cinematic resolution in a place where people go when they have run out of places to go or run out of spots to hide. Antarctica, with its bizarre and beckoning realities, plays as large a role in this love story as either of its major characters, and the authentic rendering of the setting distinguishes Raymond's novel from other stories of love in perilous times and places.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780594921189
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: 06/06/2017
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

Customer Reviews