New Book Recc: North Woods by Daniel Mason


New Member
Jan 2, 2021
Along the Jakes Branch
I've just finished North Woods by (Pulitzer prize nom) Daniel Mason, which came out a couple months ago, and rather than focusing on a specific character or characters it very interestingly focuses on a New England property over the centuries, beginning with the earliest British colonists, two of whom, in love, escape their Puritan settlement and establish a cabin. It's pretty outstanding; this sounds pedantic to say, but it's like a time travel novel except it's the reader that does the time traveling (obviously every book makes the reader a traveler of some sort, but this one you really feel like you're in a time stream, looking down upon this property and the human lives, wildlife and flora that morph and change).

It could be very straightforward and not that special in the hands of a lesser author. Instead, the author has made it more engaging and interesting; part historical fiction, part ghost story, plus epistolary elements like letters and poetry and so on. The setting and nature of the story have obvious thematic/aesthetic connections to our Pine Barrens.

A favorite aspect of the book is how you "experience" people and events and then a time break happens and the next property owners or visitors might have a clear idea of the past or, more often, a fragmented understanding that's mostly guesswork, which engages your reading because you almost want to scream, "no! It wasn't a storm that did that! It was (redacted to prevent spoilers)!!!"

Anyway here's a Goodreads link for more info about it and maybe see about picking it up at a local shop (SecondTime Books in Mount Laurel remains my favorite, though I'm not sure if they order new) if also interested:

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