North Woods: A Novel (Hardcover)
I read Daniel Mason’s book, North Woods, on a trip across the country. In the car, when I finished the last page, I turned to my husband and said, “Oh my gosh—I’ve got to start reading this again immediately!” Spanning around 400 years of inhabitants of a house in Massachusetts, this novel is haunting and haunted. Mason makes use of many literary forms, including the loveliest poetry and epistolary writing, to tell the story of the intertwined lives of the people who lived in the yellow house with the orchard of Wonder apples.— Mamie
October 2023 Indie Next List
“North Woods is a novel about a house, its inhabitants, and the land over four centuries set in the hills of western Massachusetts. A gorgeous, layered tapestry in which the house and the woods play into the lives of those who live there.”
— Fran Keilty, Hickory Stick Bookshop, Washington Depot, CT
A sweeping novel about a single house in the woods of New England, told through the lives of those who inhabit it across the centuries—“a time-spanning, genre-blurring work of storytelling magic” (The Washington Post) from the Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of The Piano Tuner and The Winter Soldier.
“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?
About the Author
Daniel Mason is the author of The Piano Tuner, A Far Country, The Winter Soldier, and A Registry of My Passage Upon the Earth, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His work has been translated into twenty-eight languages, adapted for opera and the stage, and awarded, among others, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Joyce Carol Oates Prize, a California Book Award, an O. Henry Prize, and a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is an assistant professor in the Stanford University department of psychiatry.
“It’s this curiosity-piquing cocktail of mystery and wonderment that Daniel Mason’s North Woods taps into with equal parts whimsy and aplomb . . . North Woods fires on all cylinders by engaging all the senses as it transports readers through history. Frankly, I’d follow Mason’s writing wherever it takes me next, even though this time—miraculously—he stayed in the same spot.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“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
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