The wall that suddenly shuts off the narrator from the rest of the world is presumably caused by a nuclear event, and it seems that everyone outside of the valley is dead. All the woman has to keep her company is a dog (Lynx), a cow (Bella), and a cat. The house she now lives in belonged to her cousin’s husband, who thankfully kept it well stocked. With hunting equipment, seed potatoes and beans, and enough matches to last several years, the woman’s immediate survival seems ensured. Very slowly, she begins to adjust to her new surroundings, discovering a way of life close to nature that has long been lost to many people. The suspense of the story comes from the constant uncertainty of what might happen—after all, a simple injury could prove potentially fatal here—and the knowledge that something will definitely happen to Lynx, her faithful and essential companion.
It is rather silly of me to criticize her decisions and roll my eyes at some of her thoughts. I have no idea how I would feel and act in her place. But I grew impatient with her disgust to hunt, since her survival depended on it, and I couldn’t believe she would waste her precious food to feed the deer during a particularly brutal cold spell in winter. I grew tired of her bouts with depression and her trouble sleeping, although I felt guilty about my lack of compassion. It also didn’t help that the story is told in flashbacks and I had trouble figuring out the timeline. I kept wondering how much time had passed, although in hindsight, I think that was done on purpose and I simply missed it. After all, in this situation, time as we measure it is not really important anymore. My confusion about some details simply prevented me from appreciating this aspect. The showdown that finally decides Lynx’ fate makes for an impactful ending, one that made the whole story more memorable for me.
Overall, I’d say if you are interested in the story, watch the movie. It is almost like reading the book, but it goes much faster.