I don’t know about you, but when it gets hot and sticky as it has been this late July, the thought of going somewhere cool, maybe even somewhere that’s actually COLD, is awfully appealing.  Which is why the new novel, South Pole Station, by Ashley Shelby, strikes me as a great late summer read, if only for the concept.

Would YOU go and live at the South Pole for a whole season, no matter how messed up your life might be otherwise?  Knowing that the average temperature is -54 degrees fahrenheit and that there’s no sunshine for six months of the year and that you would be living with a group of people who have in common very little beyond the quirks that might allow them to survive in such an extreme environment, what would it take for you to take that leap?

Cooper Gosling, the protagonist of South Pole Station, is looking for an escape, though perhaps she might have been able to do something a little less drastic.  She’s thirty, she just lost a family member to suicide, her artistic career is foundering and her love life isn’t much better.  To her own surprise, she passes the test to determine whether she could handle living in Antarctica, and she decides to go for it, and really get away from it all.

Basically, you have all the charms and quirks and potential problems of living in a small community of people who have nowhere else to go, mixed with the extreme physical environment of the South Pole. There are certainly a number of quirky people at the station with Cooper, including a cook with deep, Machiavellian ambitions, an attractive astrophysicist, and the gay black station manager who keeps things moving.  When Cooper finds herself befriending a new scientist whose goal is to disprove global warming (to the dismay and hostility of the other climate scientists at the station), she nearly upends all the conventions of the station and risks her own status and even her work there.

When the weather is so beastly hot and humid that you feel you’re walking through blood just to get across the street, check out South Pole Station.  Come for the cold (and descriptions of the cold), stay for the humor and the heart.


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