- this edition an e-book on Libby
- ISBN (13):9781925713855
- Pub date:4 Feb 2020
- source: my local library
- 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize - Long-listed
‘The truth is that all family lines, from the highest to the lowest, originate somewhere, on some particular day. Even the grandest trees must’ve once been seeds spun helpless on the wind, and then just meek saplings nosing up from the soil.’
2038. On a remote island off the Pacific coast of British Columbia stands the Greenwood Arboreal Cathedral, one of the world’s last forests. Wealthy tourists flock from all corners of the dust-choked globe to see the spectacle and remember what once was. But even as they breathe in the fresh air and pose for photographs amidst the greenery, guide Jake knows that the forest is dying, though her bosses won’t admit it.
1908. Two passenger locomotives meet head-on. The only survivors are two young boys, who take refuge in a trapper’s cabin in a forest on the edge of town. In twenty-six years, one of them, now a recluse, will find an abandoned baby — another child of Greenwood — setting off a series of events that will change the course of his life, and the lives of those around him.
Structured like the rings of a tree, this remarkable novel moves from the future to the present to the past, and back again, to tell the story of one family and their enduring connection to the place that brought them together.
First of all, blog-followers, this is not crime fiction, although there are mysteries to be untangled.
In four generations, a family moves from tree fellers to tree preservers, and around their family the world begins to show the effects of this long term destruction of the world's resources. Dust that results from the baring of the earth brings first great dust storms, then the Withering, and then finally a fungus that will destroy the last forests.
The story begins in 2038, on the outer ring, as it were, when planet Earth appears to be almost in its death throes, at an exclusive arboreal resort, a remote forested island in British Columbia where Pilgrims come to reconnect with an almost forgotten past. From there the story jumps back 30 years, then back another 40, until we reach the centre of the family "tree", when the name Greenwood is born. Eventually story comes out through the rings and we come "full circle" and back to where we started. Little mysteries are solved, and the family saga takes on an almost linear aspect.
The novel is challenging to read, in that there is so much we are told, and so much we need to remember. The dystopian part, our future, is not pleasant to behold.
About the author
Michael Christie is the author of the novel If I Fall, If I Die, which was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Kirkus Prize, was selected as a New York Times Editors’ Choice, and was on numerous best of 2015 lists. His linked collection of stories, The Beggar's Garden, was longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, and won the Vancouver Book Award. His essays and book reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Globe and Mail. A former carpenter and homeless shelter worker, he divides his time between Victoria, British Columbia, and Galiano Island, where he lives with his wife and two sons in a timber-frame house that he built himself.