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A Novel

Book - 2020
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It's 2034 and Jake Greenwood is a storyteller and a liar, an overqualified tour guide babysitting ultra-rich vacationers in one of the world's last remaining forests. It's 2008 and Liam Greenwood is a carpenter, fallen from a ladder and sprawled on his broken back, calling out from the concrete floor of an empty mansion. It's 1974 and Willow Greenwood is out of jail, free after being locked up for one of her endless series of environmental protests: attempts at atonement for the sins of her father's once vast and violent timber empire. It's 1934 and Everett Greenwood is alone, as usual, in his maple syrup camp squat when he hears the cries of an abandoned infant and gets tangled up in the web of a crime that will cling to his family for decades. And throughout, there are trees: thrumming a steady, silent pulse beneath Christie's effortless sentences and working as a guiding metaphor for withering, weathering, and survival. A shining, intricate clockwork of a novel, Greenwood is a rain-soaked and sun-dappled story of the bonds and breaking points of money and love, wood and blood--and the hopeful, impossible task of growing toward the light.
Publisher: London ; New York : Hogarth, 2020.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9781984822000
Characteristics: 504 pages : illustration ; 25 cm.


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Book Buzz review

Review of Greenwood in Cascadia Weekly (Wednesday, May 6, 2020) by WCLS Collection Services Manager, Lisa Gresham. (more)

From Library Staff

An engaging family historical novel centered around the trees that inform their lives.

The 2022 Whatcom READS selection. Read by Tasia

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2022 Selection

Pristine old growth on a Gulf Island and the incredible entwined history of its legacy involve past greed, an impossible future, fine wood working, and fearless hope.

From the critics

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May 05, 2021

Absorbing novel that successfully merges form and content to bring us a modern take on an old-fashioned tale of high adventure. The novel follows four generations of the Greenwood family, pioneers in a hugely successful logging business, from founder Harris Greenwood's boyhood in 1908 through the 4th generation's Jacinda ("Jake") Greenwood. Except, mirroring the rings of those grand trees that are so central to the story, the novel starts in 2038 with the founder's granddaughter facing life-altering decisions and new information suggesting she may be a beneficiary of great-grandfather Harris's estate, of which she was unaware despite having the same last name. The novel then takes us backward to 2008 to Jake's father, LIam, a high-end carpenter, then 1974 to LIam's mother Willow, a committed self-described tree hugger, and her fateful reunion with her Grand-Uncle Everett, Harris's brother, then to 1934 to follow Harris and Everett's adulthood, followed finally by Harris's boyhood in 1908. Then, again like a cross-section of tree rings, the story at about the halfway point heads back in the opposite direction, visiting the same years in chronological order this time, cleverly filling in the gaps in the outline delivered in the novel's first half.

This multi-generational novel is well-written, extremely clever and serves multiple purposes. First and foremost, it's a vastly entertaining story, full of great twists and characters. The adventures of Everett in 1934, who has made off with an infant girl and is pursued by both public and private interests, introduces us to several memorably vile characters, but other characters are also well-drawn in every time period. Second, the novel works as a plea to consider trees and forests as living, breathing characters who suffer mankind's abuses silently but at great risk for our planet, and for us to govern our actions accordingly. It's a lesson brought in extremely entertaining fashion, and I highly recommend it.

Apr 26, 2021

Very interesting style and a compelling story. It’s a bit of a commitment to get through but well worth it. Of course, living in North Vancouver we are surrounded by trees and this book is a good reminder of how we are all connected.

Sep 11, 2020

I would highly recommend this. It is a family saga that is immersive and beautifully told. It has stayed with me for the many weeks since I have read it.

Sep 08, 2020

Absolutely loved this amazing book. A timely, beautiful book based on complex characters and their love of trees. One of the best books out there.

Aug 23, 2020

It’s a rare book that can spur action, but I’m now looking into how I can help to preserve old growth forests. This book takes the reader from the lumber barron days to a dystopian future where the trees have largely disappeared due to blight and environmental changes. Having seen the stands of dead pine trees in eastern Oregon, it wasn’t hard to picture. This book is a reminder of the wealth we take for granted piggybacked on an engaging generational story.

Aug 22, 2020

Time, by its very nature inherently haunting, infuses Greenwood. Deftly, epically Christie shuttles the reader to and fro navigating a 130-year time span. Along the way the spatial geography traversed is expansionary, yet focused. Moment and location work hand in glove. The Crash, Great Depression, Dust Bowl, Great Withering which frame the book's chronicle, as is the case with much of history, rests on a foundation of voluminous archives. The fleeting personal experiences, the strands of which weave into the fabric of our lives defining who we are, unravel and dissipate with the fading of memory. This loss fashions a bereft society. Greenwood: an entrancing novel.

BPLpicks Jul 23, 2020

This is a beautifully written, immersive, generational saga that was a joy to read. Highly recommended.

IndyPL_CarriG Jun 22, 2020

A lovely and heart-wrenching family saga that begins in a future beset by a changing climate and travels back to the earlier days of the 1930's lumber industry. I found all of the characters compelling, and the way he wove the threads of plot together throughout the different timelines were both easy to follow and made for strong emotional resonance. A beautiful read.

Jun 04, 2020

The rest of the reviews really say it all but this was one of my favourite books so far this year. Very well-written in an interesting style broken down by character /year that correspond with the rings (age) on British Columbia's ancient old growth forests. This book sends a vital environmental message through the eyes of complicated, flawed characters who are members of different generations of one family. Engrossing. The only reason I didn't give it five stars was because of the inconclusive ending but that is just a personal bias. Highly recommend.

Apr 02, 2020

I loved this novel. At its core are trees - real ones and family trees. Our guide in this is a young woman who works as a guide on a tourist spot in British Columbia - an island where trees survive in a world where most have been wiped out by a virus. She's doing her best to survive and pay her massive student debt in this near-future world. But she's drawn into finding out more about her family, going back several generations and we're along for the ride. At the front of the book is an illustration of a tree's interior - its rings which correspond to the dates and people from our guide's family tree. The book is written the same way - it starts in the present with the tour guide (the outer layer on one side of the tree) and goes inwards to the core, the starting point of her family, and then works its way back to the present/ring on the other side. This novel has well developed characters, glimpses into past eras, and an intriguing look at what makes a family, secrets and all. Plus an important environmental message. And it's Canadian. If you like complicated family sagas and historical fiction with a bit of the future thrown in, try this.

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