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Our Lady of the Forestby David Guterson
"Despite the Roman Catholic flavor of Ann's vision, the dimensions of this compelling novel are catholic in the larger sense. Still, the enormous audience that enjoyed Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars will find this a far more unsettling book. Agnostics will resonate to Guterson's ambivalence, and atheists may feel pricked by his insight into humanity's thirst for transcendence, but the Christian reading groups that embraced the spirituality of, say, Leif Enger's Peace Like a River (2001) will be reluctant to take on a story that contains such disturbing scenes of violence and sexual abuse. This is no Peace Like a River, or any peace at all, really. But it captures a tempest of faith boiling with the desire for communion." Ron Charles, The Christian Science Monitor (read the entire CSM review)
Synopses & Reviews
A sense of place strongly informs David Guterson's work; he has often written about the Pacific Northwest, most notably in Snow Falling on Cedars, and his natural settings help forge the events in his characters' lives. In his newest novel, Our Lady of the Forest, Guterson tackles a different kind of environment: the internal landscape of faith and spirituality. A drug-addicted Washington teenager — an unlikely witness to a miracle — believes she sees the Virgin Mary, initiating a complex and far-reaching tangle of consequences. In clear, thoughtful prose, Guterson illuminates her town and the reactions of its inhabitants, ranging from self-deception to genuine revelation. Ron Charles of the Christian Science Monitor explains, "This is no Peace Like a River, or any peace at all, really. But it captures a tempest of faith boiling with the desire for communion." A portrait of the intersection of grace and desperation, suspicion and a search for meaning, Our Lady of the Forest is an unsettling, unusual exploration of the beliefs that we depend on, sacred or not. Jill, Powells.com
This novel is about a teenage girl, Ann Holmes, who claims to see the Virgin Mary. A sixteen-year-old runaway, Ann is an itinerant mushroom picker who lives in a tent. But on a November afternoon, in the foggy woods of North Fork, Washington, the Virgin comes to her, clear as day. Father Collins--a young priest new to North Fork--finds Ann disturbingly alluring. But it is up to him to evaluate--impartially--the veracity of Ann's sightings: Are they delusions, or a true calling to God? As word spreads and thousands, including the press, converge upon the town, Carolyn Greer, a smart-talking fellow mushroomer, becomes Ann's disciple of sorts, as well as her impromptu publicity manager. And Tom Cross, an embittered logger who has been out of work since his son was paralyzed in a terrible accident, finds in Ann's visions a last chance for redemption for both himself and his son. As Father Collins searches his own soul and Ann's, as Carolyn struggles with her less than admirable intentions, as Tom alternates between despair and hope, Our Lady of the Forest tells a suspenseful, often wryly humorous, and deeply involving story of faith at a contemporary crossroads.
"[P]anoramic, psychologically dense....[T]his ambitious and satisfying work builds vivid characters and trenchant storytelling into a serious and compassionate look at the moral quandaries of modern life." Publishers Weekly
"This is Guterson's best book." Chicago Sun-Times
"Another virtuoso performance from David Guterson...Gripping...Marks an expansion of his vision...Transporting...Balances on the tension between belief and despair without ever losing its sense of mystery." L.A. Times Book Review
"Blends some of the appeal of Stephen King's uncanny tales... and John Updike's fables... Thoroughly absorbing... Guterson writes virtuoso dialogue." Seattle Weekly
"Magnificent... Reading it, I kept putting [Guterson] in the best possible literary company... I was in a state of elation while I was reading... A marvelous book, in every sense." Jonathan Raban
In a suspenseful and emotionally charged story of faith at a contemporary crossroads, the bestselling author of Snow Falling on Cedars offers a provocative new novel about a teenage girl who claims to see the Virgin Mary.
About the Author
David Guterson is the author of Snow Falling on Cedars and East of the Mountains, and of the story collection The Country Ahead of Us, the Country Behind. A Guggenheim Fellow and PEN/Faulkner Award winner, he lives in Washington State.
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