North Woods: A Novel (Hardcover)
NORTH WOODS, the new novel by Daniel Mason, is an amazing achievement in literature. Two pilgrim lovers run away from their settlement and build a house in Western Massachusetts. We then follow the house through the centuries as each chapter details different owners, each written in an entirely different style, from a doctor's notes, to pulp detective fiction, to songs, poetry, and literary fiction. There are ghosts, murders, mental health issues, and, always, the effect of the surrounding nature and wilderness. This book does a beautiful job relating exposure to nature and its psychological benefits, but it is so much more than its many bits. The finale, which stretches from modern times and into the future, is a lovely epilogue on this stunning read. The photographs and maps are the icing o the cake, making this one of the best novels of the year.— From Bill recommends
“With the expansiveness and immersive feeling of two-time Booker Prize nominee David Mitchell’s fiction (Cloud Atlas), the wicked creepiness of Edgar Allan Poe, and Mason’s bone-deep knowledge of and appreciation for the natural world that’s on par with that of Thoreau, North Woods fires on all cylinders.”—San Francisco Chronicle
New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
When two 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 nonhuman characters alike. An English soldier, destined for glory, abandons the battlefields of the New World to devote himself to growing apples. A pair of spinster twins navigate war and famine, envy and desire. A crime reporter unearths an ancient mass grave—only to discover that the earth refuse to give up their secrets. A lovelorn painter, a sinister con man, a stalking panther, a lusty beetle: As the inhabitants confront the wonder and mystery around them, they begin to realize that the dark, raucous, beautiful past is very much alive.
This magisterial and highly inventive novel from Pulitzer Prize finalist Daniel Mason brims 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 one another. It is not just an unforgettable novel about secrets and destinies, but a way of looking at the world that asks the timeless question: How do we live on, even after we’re gone?
“It’s a dazzling high-wire act—and it’s thrilling to read because it never feels like Mason is showing off, just that he thought way outside the box as he searched for the perfect format for each story. There are a lot of great books coming out this fall but, if I were you, I’d start with this one.”—The Star Tribune
“North Woods is a monumental achievement of polyphony and humanity. Relating the narrative of an entire country via a single plot of land, it sweeps the reader through hundreds of years and an array of protagonists with a deft, heartbreaking, idiosyncratic zeal. I loved it.”—Maggie O’Farrell, New York Times bestselling author of Hamnet
“North Woods is the most original and spellbinding novel I’ve read in ages. Mason makes bramble, brush, and orchard come alive with the spirits of their unforgettable former inhabitants. Their lives and passionate loves and their chilling acts of vengeance had me glued to my seat.”—Abraham Verghese, New York Times bestselling author of The Covenant of Water
“Ambitious, alive, and lush . . . I emerged from this book as though from an enchanted forest, covered in leaves and changed by what I had seen there. . . . Electrifying.”—Tess Gunty, author of The Rabbit Hutch
“North Woods is a sui generis work of pure brilliance, an epic written with a miniaturist’s precision. Daniel Mason has unearthed, in the centuries-spanning history of a single New England home, a universal story of loss and reclamation It’s the best book I’ve read in ages.”—Anthony Marra, author of Mercury Pictures Presents
“Mason depicts all of [the] stories with sympathy, sensitivity, and affectionate humor. Epic in scope and ambitious in style, this book succeeds on all counts. Highly recommended.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“Readers, too, will find themselves in an entrancing fictional realm where the human, natural, and supernatural mingle, all captured in the author’s effortlessly virtuosic prose . . . Like the house at its center, a book that is multitudinous and magical.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Each arc is beautifully, heartbreakingly conveyed, stitching together subtle connections across time. This astonishes.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“North Woods is a love poem to the human and natural history of Western Massachusetts. Most brilliant of all is the novel’s daring storytelling, through which its tales come spectacularly to life. They are wise, profound, chilling, carnal and funny.”—BookPage