Martin's Must Reads: 'Greenwood'

Sep 22, 2020

“Why is it that people are engineered to live just long enough to to pile up a lifetime of mistakes but not long enough to fix them? If only we were like trees, she thinks. If only we had centuries.” 

I’m Betty Martin with "Martin’s Must Reads" and those are lines from Michael Christie’s novel Greenwood. The story spans  four generations of Greenwoods...a family name first given to two boys, Harris and Everett, who are only connected by their shared fate of surviving the same train wreck. They chop wood to survive which eventually leads Harris to found a lucrative lumber company.

When Everett returns from WWI mentally scarred, he survives by tapping sap from trees until the day he finds an abandoned baby hanging from one of them. He names her Willow, and while searching for a good home for her, is arrested on false kidnapping charges.

Willow inherits the lumber company, but gives all her wealth away to support her efforts to save the forests from extinction. She reduces her footprint by living in a camper with her son Liam. Liam becomes an accomplished carpenter and has a daughter, Jake, who dedicates her life to saving trees.

The story begins in 2023 and Jake is working at one of the last old forested reserves. Each chapter of the book winds down another generation to 1908 and then works it’s way back up. As the story ends Jake learns of her ancestors through a journal that Willow’s mother left behind and does what she can to save the trees on the island. As the book jacket states this is “a magnificent generational saga that charts a family’s rise and fall, its secrets and inherited crimes.”

If you only read one book this fall,  you must read Greenwood by Michael Christie.