North Woods by Daniel Mason
9/19/23; 384 pages
North Woods by Daniel Mason is a highly recommended imaginative historical fiction, but with a different point of reference.
This is a novel about all the lives that lived in a single house in the woods of New England. The novel consists of twelve stories that tie into the seasons and months of the year, all set around the land and house, beginning with two young Puritan lovers who escaped from their colony. Residents also include in part, an English soldier who wants an apple orchard, twin sisters, a landscape painter, the wealthy Farnsworths, and subsequently their daughter and her schizophrenic son, Robert, and a true crime writer.
This is also the story of the land, animals, insects, spores,
etc., and the changes experienced over the years. Finally, it is
a ghost story, where the former inhabitants may still be
haunting the area. Included within the narrative at different
points are also folk ballads, letters, diary entries, real
estate listing, and accounts of nature's changes, seeds, blights
and insects coming to the land. Taken in totality, it all
culminates in a tale of how all things in a specific
environments are interconnected over time.
The quality of the writing is simply gorgeous and undeniably
compelling. The writing will pull you in and keep you reading,
however, as with any collection of interconnected stories, not
all stories will be as compelling as others throughout the whole
novel. The structure and decision to tell a story in this
manner, over decades and through different characters on one
piece of land, is interesting yet also challenging. I was not
especially interested in all the characters and ghosts, however
I kept reading for the little gems within the writing.