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Carol Garlington is a trained and certified Massage Therapist whose love for animals and the outdoors is reflected in her writing and her activism.
Martin A. David is a multi-discipline artist who, like his wife Carol, applies his writing skills to conservation topics.
Charlotte McConaghy’s book Once There were Wolves (Flatiron Publishers—2021) has been coloring my mind ever since I read it. In her novel the Australian writer imagines re-wilding the wolf population in Scotland. The book deals with domestic violence as well as violence towards wolves, horses, the earth itself. The drum beat of rapidly accelerating climate change provides the pacing for this rarely comfortable but often lyrical read.
As Inti Flynn, the novel’s central character, points out, “…the physiological response to witnessing someone’s pain is a cringe, a recoil, a wince. We are hardwired for empathy. Once upon a time I took delight in feeling what others felt. Now the constant stream of sensory information exhausts me…I can’t get lost in the wolves or I won’t survive.”
Flynn, who has been sent to Scotland to lead a team of biologists reintroducing wolves to an area of the Scottish Highlands, is affected by the violence she sees on all fronts. She is able to relate the cruelty to the wolves to the cruelty her own sister faces in a dysfunctional relationship. One can only imagine how that empathetic character would react to scrolling through the news reports of fighting in the Ukraine.
Another major theme of the novel is the thorniness of communicating when generation-held opinions clash. One poignant passage has the main character sharing a recording of wolves howling in such a way that the person she is trying to convince to listen actually does listen and begins to share her passion for wolves. As she points out, they are animals who have in their power the means to restore a degraded environment and make it sustainable again.
This book does not devastate—which is more than I can expect from tomorrow’s news—but it does present questions that are very real in our world: Will the wolves survive? Will the women? Will violence or measured communication have the upper hand?