Marika Vecera is a determined, dedicated journalist who chooses to live life with little baggage. She lives in a sparsely decorated apartment with minimal material comforts. Cherished tokens from her travels serve as windows to her past. She has no permanent male companion and likes it that way. No attachment. She can pick up and leave to follow a story at any moment.
She wanted to write, she freelanced and sold her stories, always risking personal injury and life threatening odds. It wasn’t easy in the beginning as she paid her own way to get to perilous places in order to report a story. Her hero is the famous journalist, Robert Lewis and has read everything he ever wrote. When she reads of his suicide she is devastated. Soon after, she decides to write a biography about his life.
Contrary to her single lifestyle, Marika becomes involved with Sam Gilman, an “intense” doctoral student. Unaccustomed to deep relationships Marika is frightened as Sam tries to break through her desensitized cocoon. After a horrible fight, Marika leaves Seb.
She learns that a missionary is quite sure he spotted Lewis living in a remote jungle village in Papa New Guinea. With rash determination she decides to follow the lead. Treacherous travel through leech invested swamps and the constant attack of mosquitos leads Marika to a village where she is called white mary. Her visit turns unexpectedly reflective when the protective shield that binds her ability to feel begins to unravel.
Kira Salak’s personal experiences make this novel a realistically compelling read. A beautifully sensual book with poetic imagery that lifts off the page.
“Trees surround her like great columns in a cathedral. Birds announce the coming day with bold calls, and not even the faint drumbeats can overpower the incessant droning of insects.”
I consumed this book without stopping. Reflective and mesmerizing,The White Mary, will be one for my 2009 top ten picks.