6 Things to Know About Kristin Hannah’s ‘The Great Alone’

Posted on February 6, 2018 by

New York Times bestselling author Kristin Hannah pens fan-favorite bestsellers like The Nightingale that tug at readers’ heartstrings. Kristin Hannah’s new book, The Great Alone, is no exception. The novel, out today, follows the Allbright family — Ernt, Cora, and Leni — as they move to the harsh wilderness of 1970s Alaska. Here’s everything you need to know before diving into the Kristin Hannah new book, The Great Alone.

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1. The Great Alone is inspired by Hannah’s own experiences.

Like the novel’s heroine Leni, Hannah and her family moved to Alaska in the 1970s after her dad decided he wanted to go to the “prettiest place we can find.” Hannah still feels a connection to the state:

“I think either Alaska gets inside of you and you never leave, or you can’t stay. One of the things I say in The Great Alone is that a lot of the people in Alaska are either running to something or running from something.”

She adds that the theme of survivalism runs throughout the book, and many Alaskans appreciate being self-sufficient in a land with much wilderness. The juxtaposition of Alaska’s beauty and the danger the Allbright family faces tell us about the “American pioneer spirit and just America in general,” she says.


2. Hannah originally wrote another book after The Nightingale, but abandoned it entirely.

After The Nightingale was released in 2015, Hannah was unsure how to follow its runaway success. She tells Writer’s Digest:

“My original thought was that I wanted to write something that couldn’t be compared to The Nightingale. Something completely different, its own kind of book. That took me down a rabbit hole, and I ended up having to throw a book away after almost two years of working on it. Because not only did it not live up to The Nightingale, it just didn’t feel like it ever coalesced into a book that I believed in 110 percent.”

The story was actually set in modern-day Alaska, but ultimately, Hannah discarded that story and went back to the drawing board, eventually penning The Great Alone.


3. The title is derived from a poem about Alaska’s isolation and beauty.

In an interview with BookPage, Hannah says she got the title of The Great Alone from a poem about Alaska called “The Shooting of Dan McGrew” by Robert W. Service. The poem was one that her father loved to read to his kids. It reads in part:

“Were you ever out in the Great Alone, when the moon was awful clear,
And the icy mountains hemmed you in with a silence you most could hear;
With only the howl of a timber wolf, and you camped there in the cold,
A half-dead thing in a stark, dead world, clean mad for the muck called gold.”


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4. Hannah did extensive research to build a vivid backdrop for this story.

Building on her experience of living in Alaska, Hannah did extensive research on the location and time period in which The Great Alone is set to create an authentic narrative. She reused a lot of the research about Alaska from the scrapped manuscript mentioned above, digging deeper into the 1970s to bring that decade to life.

She tells Writer’s Digest:

“I didn’t really realize until I did the research what a turbulent time it was with the hijackings, and the kidnappings, and the bombings, and all of this. The more research I did about the ’70s, the more it felt relevant to today — like the world was as unsettled then as it sometimes feels now. That’s when I knew that I had a book — a fascinating look into a world that we haven’t read about a lot.


5. It already has a movie deal.

Variety reports that Sony’s Tristar Pictures bought the movie rights for The Great Alone, and Elizabeth Cantillon and Laura Quicksilver are on board to produce the adaptation. Both Cantillon and Quicksilver are producers on the film adaptation for Hannah’s The Nightingale, expected sometime in 2019.


6. The Great Alone is already receiving wonderful reviews.

Publishers Weekly gave The Great Alone a starred review, saying, “Hannah skillfully situates the emotional family saga in the events and culture of the late ’70s.” Kirkus Review also gave it a starred review, promising that the story will “thrill her fans with its combination of Greek tragedy, Romeo and Juliet–like coming-of-age story, and domestic potboiler.”

According to Booklist, “Hannah vividly evokes the natural beauty and danger of Alaska and paints a compelling portrait of a family in crisis and a community on the brink of change,” and Library Journal notes, “Hannah’s fans will appreciate the astuteness of the story and the unbreakable connection between mother and child.”

Do you plan on reading Kristin Hannah’s new book? Tell us in the comments!


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