Martin's Must Reads: 'North Woods'
“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.”
Those are some lines from the flyleaf of Daniel Mason’s novel North Woods. After the Puritans, an English soldier quits fighting to grow the best tasting apples in the land. After he dies, his twin daughters continue working the orchard.
Other inhabitants over the centuries include a painter, a mother with a schizophrenic son, a panther and a con man. Rooms are added on and refurbished. Some of the acres of woods are cleared for a variety of reasons. Species of trees are either chopped down or die of diseases. Some of the chapters are separated by drawings or sketches. The reader is introduced to a variety of personalities. This is such a rich book. It’s difficult to describe.
The author, Daniel Mason is an assistant professor in the Stanford University department of psychiatry, and it’s evident in the way he reveals the personalities of the characters in this book. Mason was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his book A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth. Again, from the flyleaf, “This magisterial and highly inventive novel 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,”
If you’re looking for that rare book that you’ll want to reread and whose writing will astound you, then you must read North Woods by Daniel Mason.