In a Dark Wood Paperback – 4 Jul 2011
Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
‘An intelligent and gripping novel. Wonderful, page-turning storytelling.’The Times
‘Exhibits the same incisiveness and intelligence as her acclaimed A Vicious Circle. Witty and disturbing, it is a novel of both accomplishment and charm.’ Daily Mail
‘A book within a book, a rich plot with plenty of on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense, an abundance of quirky but believable character…’In A Dark Wood’ is an elegant anti-fairy tale for adults that keeps you guessing until the last few pages.’Daily Express
'An eerie novel full of fairy-tale menace…beguilingly told and hypnotic.' Independent on Sunday
From the Author
In a Dark Wood is, like all my novels, about the nature of creativity - in this case, about creativity, suffering and madness. That may sound like a very bleak subject, but although its plot involves suicide, divorce, manic depression and incest it is, as perceptive readers have noticed, also a black comedy. Its title is from the opening of Dante's Inferno - "Midway upon the journey of our life/I found myself lost in a dark wood", and in the case of Benedick Hunter, the narrator, he finds himself in some very dark woods indeed. At first these belong to the fairytales his dead mother retold and illustrated. It is when he finds an old book of hers, while packing up his belongings in the house he shared with his ex-wife and two children, that he is impelled to go on a quest to discover more about her. Benedick knows she committed suicide in Primrose Hill in the 1960s, but can't remember anything about her. However, each fairytale seems to give him clues about her nature, and his own, and this eventually takes him across the Atlantic to her native North Carolina, and some real woods with a pair of what his son insists are real witches.
What inspired this, the most dark and difficult of my novels to date, was noticing how often children's picture-books depict their heroes as lost in a dark wood as a metaphor for difficulty, danger, confusion and despair. The old meaning of "wood", in Shakespeare's time (see A Midsummer Night's Dream) was "madness". I was fascinated by this,and by seeing how close small children come to lunacy -and bring their parents, too, at times.
The novel was published in the UK by 4th Estate in 2000, but the Doubleday version is superior, not only in its presentation but in its editing. The US hardback has exactly the picture I wanted to have all along, and was meticulously checked, so this is the one to buy...if you do buy it.
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
Top Customer Reviews
The story is perfectly convincing, as are the characters. The contrast between every day's trials and tribulations, parenthood (all the mothers marvelled at the description of the two irresistible little monsters!), madness & drama and the fairy tales and poems "... and when your heart begins to fail it's like a ship without a sail..." works beautifully. The narrative is witty and full of insight, the fairy tales enchanting, the characters, whether loveable or despicable, are all very vivid. We suffered, and suffered with poor Benedick, and it is a great compliment to the author that - unless you are familiar with manic-depressive cases - you are, literally, kept in the dark until the very end. Do read it!
Inger Løvschall (a Dane in Brussels)
In this beautiful and moving novel, Craig manages to write very convincingly about a man's perspective of the world. Benedick's personal aspirations are clouded by despair in a way that prevents him from also appreciating all the loving people he has in his life. Unfortunately, he has also inherited a lot of pain and bitterness from his mother's life, many of the facts of which have been hidden from him. We are also given many funny details about the cultural differences between America and England. What the author also does so extraordinarily well is show a blend of light and dark in this central character's psychology. He does a number of detestable things. Yet we are given insight into them and understand they are acts of desperation brought about through a mental illness he can‘t control.Read more ›
He is suddenly seized with the notion that he should find out more about his mother, now dead, and an author and illustrator of a series of fairy tales far from the anodyne Disney-dominated pap usually written for children. Throughout the novel he reads these to his son Cosmo (Flora is only three and they are way over her head – she prefers princesses). I was slightly put off – but as the sequence of readings progress the reader can see their strange relevance to a man who is teetering on the edge of something very scary.
I don’t want to spoil the book for other readers, but suffice to say, a revelation concerning Benedick’s health occurs as he pursues his mother’s past, visiting South Carolina, where a branch of the family now lives. The story of her life chimes with his current problems, but Craig weaves the denouement in very skilfully and the ending is one where the reader can breathe a sigh of relief.
I enjoyed this book very much indeed.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Beautifully written. Craig's plotting and character development is stunning.Published 6 months ago by Catherine Walter
The layers of the story are delicately peeled one by one so that we come to know and sympathise with Benedick even when we also hate him for the things he does, or says to his... Read morePublished on 8 July 2013 by P. Ashley
Benedick is miserable: recently divorced, acting career in the doldrums, at war with his father, and barely able to look after himself, let alone his two young children (who... Read morePublished on 9 July 2012 by neverendings
Amanda Craig's ambitious fourth novel deals with manic-depression and the importance of our pasts to us. Read morePublished on 4 July 2011 by Kate Hopkins
Just finished this and am blown away on the back of the wind. It is such a wonderful exploration of the power and depth of fairy tale--and an object lesson on all the reasons that... Read morePublished on 3 Aug. 2010 by Book Babe Extraordinaire
Having recently read and enjoyed Amanda Craig's excellent state-of-the-nation novel Hearts and Minds, I thought I would dive into her backlist, to see if it was of the same high... Read morePublished on 18 Jun. 2010 by Quicksilver
Darker and more heartbreaking than her other books this fine writer weaves powerful myths and fairy stories through the journey made by the central character, an actor coming to... Read morePublished on 13 April 2006 by Lady Fancifull
I am bowled over by the brilliance of In a Dark Wood. No wonder authors such as Alison Lurie have loved it - it's mind-blowing, moving and full of dark comedy. Read morePublished on 18 Mar. 2003