North Woods – Daniel Mason

North Woods – Daniel Mason

I kept seeing this novel everywhere and I finally decided to buy a copy.

Here’s the blurb …

When a pair of young lovers abscond from a Puritan colony, little do they know that their humble cabin in the woods will become the home of an extraordinary succession of human and inhuman characters alike. An English soldier, destined for glory, abandons the battlefields of the New World to devote himself to apples. A pair of spinster twins navigate war and famine, envy and desire. A crime reporter unearths a mass grave – only to discover that the ancient trees refuse to give up their secrets. A lovelorn painter, a sinister conman, a stalking panther, a lusty as each inhabitant confronts the wonder and mystery around them, they begin to realize that the dark, raucous, beautiful past is very much alive.

In his transcendent fourth novel, Pulitzer Prize finalist Daniel Mason delivers a magisterial and highly inventive tale brimming with love and madness, humor and hope. Following the cycles of history, nature and even language, North Woods shows the myriad, magical ways in which we’re connected to our environment, to history and to each other. It is not just an unforgettable novel about buried secrets and inevitable fates, but a way of looking at the world.

This novel has an interesting premise and structure. First, it’s about a place. We meet all of the people who live in this place over time. From the very first white settlers to sometime in the near future. Second, all of the various accounts are told in different ways; a written history for posterity, ballads, almanacs, medical notes, letters to a friend, etc. I found it compelling (maybe not the ballads), but all of the other sections were well-written and moved the story along. It is also a bit mystical – there’s hauntings. It also has an environmental message; we see the forest slowly destroyed by various pests and diseases, and then global warming is the last nail in the coffin for several trees.

A review.

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Filed under 4, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Paper

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