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Emma recommends... Orbital - Samantha Harvey

Emma recommends... Orbital - Samantha Harvey

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Emma recommends... I loved Samantha Harvey's The Western Wind and have loved reading something else from her - especially something so different. Harvey draws us into the lives of her six astronaut characters, through glimpses into their presents and pasts, while taking us with them through 16 orbits of Earth in 24 hours. There is something enthralling about the prose in this book, reading completely beautifully whether the author is describing the views of the planet below or the mundane routine of the astronauts. The Guardian named Orbital a Book of the Year at the end of 2023, describing it as "an uplifting book, in every sense." It is a simply wonderful, deceptively clever book, and I'm delighted that it is Collected's first Book of the Month in 2024!

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Life on our planet as you’ve never seen it before: in this spellbinding and uplifting novel six astronauts rotate in the International Space Station. They are there to do vital work, but slowly they begin to wonder: what is life without earth? What is earth without humanity?

Together they watch their silent blue planet, circling it sixteen times, spinning past continents, and cycling through seasons, taking in glaciers and deserts, the peaks of mountains and the swells of oceans. Endless shows of spectacular beauty witnessed in a single day.

Yet although separated from the world they cannot escape its constant pull. News reaches them of the death of a mother, and with it comes thoughts of returning home. They look on as a typhoon gathers over an island and people they love, in awe of its magnificence and fearful of its destruction.

The fragility of human life fills their conversations, their fears, their dreams. So far from earth, they have never felt more part - or protective - of it.

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