In 2016, Sandy Winterbottom embarked on an epic tall-ship voyage from the busy port of Montevideo to the emptiness of the Antarctic Peninsula. Through vivid and vital descriptions we follow her journey across the vast southern oceans, sensing the ‘feeling of lightness as the ship falls away into the trough of a wave’ and the ‘toothpaste-fresh’ hue of the sea. But sailing alongside her is the shadow of Anthony Ford, a 15 year old from Edinburgh, whose grave Winterbottom encounters on the tiny island of South Georgia, leading to an obsession that diverts her adventure into the brutal world of industrial-scale whaling. The two stories culminate in the unlikely true-life tale of a vegan who ends up befriending the men who partook in the slaughter of two million whales.
In a world that seems increasingly divided, The Two-Headed Whale reminds us of our common humanity and resurrects a history of environmental exploitation that holds crucial parallels with the modern day climate emergency.