North Woods: A Novel
North Woodsis 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.
A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW TOP TEN BOOK OF THE YEAR
A WASHINGTON POST TOP TEN BOOK OF THE YEAR • FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD
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 • A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: Time, The Boston Globe, NPR, Chicago Public Library, The Star Tribune, The Economist, The Christian Science Monitor, Real Simple, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Bookreporter
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?
Praise for North Woods: A Novel
“Dazzling . . . a brave and original book, which invents its own form. It is both intimate and epic, playful and serious. To read it is to travel to the limits of what the novel can do.”—The Guardian (US)
“A time-spanning, genre-blurring work of storytelling magic . . . Each chapter germinates its own form while sending out tendrils that entwine beneath the surface of the novel . . . As [Mason] floats through thrillers, a bit of comic noir, erotic paranormal fiction and other genres, it’s hard to imagine there is anything he can’t do . . .”—The Washington Post
“Gorgeous . . . a tale of ephemerality and succession, of the way time accrues in layers, like sedimentary soil.”—NPR
“Brilliantly combines the granularity of realism with the timeless, shimmering allure of myth . . . Sui generis fiction . . . The forest and the trees: Mason keeps both in clear view in his eccentric and exhilarating novel.”—The New York Times Book Review
“It seems almost a magic trick, the way in which Mason knits his lives into a single tale.”—Erica Wagner, The Sunday Times
“A treatise on forest management (and mismanagement), a hallucinatory dream sequence, and an anthropologist’s life’s work all rolled into one. North Woods fires on all cylinders by engaging all the senses as it transports readers through history.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“A tender lament for our vanishing earthly paradise. . . . it’s hard not to come away feeling a bit wistful, seeing what we’ve lost and imagining what lies ahead in our probably dystopian future.”—The Boston Globe
“Enthralling . . . the bigger point of North Woods is how much is forgotten or never known. This resonates at a time when Americans are arguing about what version of history students should be taught.”—The Economist
“This is . . . a cunningly contrived and beautifully intricate book . . .”—The Scotsman
“[A] magisterial mosaic . . . Truly triumphant.”—Booklist, Starred Review
“It’s a dazzling high-wire act—and it’s thrilling to read . . . 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 . . . 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 . . . 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 . . . 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 . . . 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 . . . wise, profound, chilling, carnal and funny.”—BookPage