North Woods

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An exceptional read, with dozens of interesting characters and their stories, a historical perspective, and a thought-provoking message – bundled with gorgeous depictions of nature and its glory.

This book is a literary (so historical it is almost scholarly) look at life surrounding, subsuming and begetting more life in the bountifully forested paradise adjoining a yellow house in rural northern Massachusetts. The story begins with an initial homesteading of this land by a runaway couple escaping the brutal rule of colonization in the eighteenth century, and continues through lifetimes, as occupants come and go and the tract of land endures, – changing, growing, dying and regenerating, in harmony with, and a product of, seasons and nature and the magic of all the related cycles.

“He who does good to the land shall be protected, while he who trespasses upon her will be met with most violent return. “

With human occupants changing over time, including an orchardist (“apple man”), a slave hunter, a mother and her child fleeing violent captors, a crassly predatory button manufacturer, identical cloistered spinster twins, a poignant pair of secret male lovers, and a “delusional” schizophrenic, – we meet and hear the wild and wonderful stories of each in their tenure of this selfsame yellow house and its woods.

As we, the reader, observe through this brilliantly supplied and panoramic view across the ages, (with this locale as our anchor point, and time as the variable), it’s mind-blowingly clear that as each occupant departs this life, as humans must do, their visit is indelibly written on the land left behind. They (we) have become part of it, carried along through the cycles that endure. And are bigger than all of us.

Perhaps, the author muses, (somewhat tongue-in-cheek, and somewhat metaphorically through these stories) our stewardship of this land, and our imprint along the way, can also trigger tracings, hauntings, spirits, and even dangerous unexpected creatures, unleashing violent, destructive or even devastating forces.

A message definitely worth pondering, and a book that is not to be missed.

A great big thank you to Netgalley, the author and the publisher for an ARC of this book. All thoughts presented are my own.


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