‘The Wilderness Between Us’ by Penny Haw

by | Print Articles, Spring 2021

The Story

Faye Mackenzie and her friends’ anorexic daughter, Clare are thrown together when a flood separates them from their hiking group in the remote, mountainous Tsitsikamma region of South Africa. With Clare critically injured, Faye is compelled to overcome her self-doubt and fear of the wild to take care of the younger woman, who opens her heart to Faye.

As their new friendship takes the women on an unexpected journey of discovery, the rest of the group wrestles with the harrowing aftermath of their own near tragedy. When the hiking party is reunited, their number is reduced by one.

Juxtaposing physical and psychological intrigue, The Wilderness Between Us is a tale of two fragile women who unexpectedly find clarity, independence and renewed purpose as they fight to survive. It is a vivid, moving story about family, friendship, adventure and the healing power of nature and compassion.

“He wasn’t sure it made any difference to Clare, but Geoffrey felt better. The sessions gave him a glimpse at what she might be going through, though he wasn’t sure he’d ever truly understand. He was able to talk to Michelle, Angus and Linda about Clare’s illness and how it made him feel, without breaking down. The sessions gave him the chance to express his guilt and helplessness and to ask some of the questions that bombarded him in the early hours. How could he have allowed this to happen to Clare? What had he missed? What kind of father couldn’t make his daughter well? Geoffrey’s therapist helped him see what he could control and what he couldn’t. The heaviness in his heart lifted slightly and he could once more see beyond Clare. He went shopping for a new hockey stick with Linda, practised with her and watched all her games. He played touch rugby with Angus and helped him fix his bike, and reserved a weekend away for him and Michelle.” Excerpt: ‘The Wilderness Between Us’

About the author
Long-time journalist and columnist, and latter-day author, Penny Haw has written for many leading South African newspapers and magazines for more than three decades. Her children’s book, Nicko, The Tale of a Vervet Monkey on an African Farm was published in 2017 and is now included in school curricula. The Wilderness Between Us is her debut novel for adults, again expounding her love for animals and the outdoors. Two of Penny’s works of historical fiction will be released by Sourcebooks in 2022 and 2023.


The Wilderness Between Us (ISBN: 978-1-64663-414-9) is published by Köehler Books. It is available worldwide in all formats, and to booksellers in South Africa from Karavan Press.