It is 1782, and the 729-ton Grosvenor has run aground on the coast of Pondoland. So begins James Whyle’s second novel, Walk (Jacana), so titled for the trek the castaways undertake, by foot, to reach the Cape Colony. This representation of William Hubberly’s journey is a searing tale of paralysing thirst, gut-wrenching hunger and, ultimately, survival. Diary-style entries record the survivors’ struggles as they split into two groups and journey along the treacherous coastline. Each morning the characters "fire their brands and depart before dawn," feeding on limpets and crabs, seeking shelter in dunes and hiding from wild beasts as the day progresses. Whyle's tone is almost meditative, quietly descriptive, taking on a rhythmic quality and capturing the violent monotony of each day as the characters come closer to their destination – or, death.
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