Our Lady of the Forest Paperback – 4 Oct 2004
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One of the most exciting and thoughtful novels Ive read this year a wonderful novel -- Daily Mail
From the Inside Flap
From David Guterson--bestselling author of Snow Falling on Cedars--comes this emotionally charged, provocative novel about what happens when a fifteen-year-old girl becomes an instrument of divine grace.
Ann Holmes is a fragile, pill-popping teenaged runaway who receives a visitation from the Virgin Mary one morning while picking mushrooms in the woods of North Fork, Washington. In the ensuing days the miracle recurs, and the declining logging town becomes the site of a pilgrimage of the faithful and desperate. As these people flock to Ann--and as Ann herself is drawn more deeply into what is either holiness or madness--Our Lady of the Forest--seamlessly splices the miraculous and the mundane. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Written in a fast and jumpy fashion with quick wit and repartee this book is formed around the visions experienced by Ann in her fevered, ill and dangerous state. Whether you take her seriously or dismiss the visions immediately the story carries you along with the mounting excitement and hope that her mission gathers up. The desperate need for others to help her carry out the instructions of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the driving force that grabs the community and changes life in that place forever. Father Collins keeps a cool head and manfully stands up to the Grand Inquisitor type older priest who arrives to check her out.
Unusual in content with a great deal of the Catholic faith and creed acted out for the reader this is a heavier weight read. Personally I ground through it rather although the end was very clever indeed and made the struggle through worthwhile.
Another point of interest is the way that Guterson portrays the mass hysteria that religious visions have created around the world over the years. Guterson does this wryly and there are a number of humorous turns of phrase when the visionaries legions of followers flock to North Fork.
This novel then is suspenseful and engaging enough (just)to see it through its 300 + pages. However, like the views of other reviewers indicate, this novel may have worked better as a novella.
Ann Holmes, a teenage girl with a childhood of neglect and sexual abuse, tries to make a living by picking mushrooms in a gloomy Washington forest near Tacoma. One day she has a vision of the Holy Virgin who urges her to build a church in the woods, and within days her initial solitary experience - after a second and a third vision of Mary - swells to near mass-hysteria, spread by the internet.
Her cynical "friend" Carolyn tries to financially exploit these visions of Ann. The young priest of the isolated and derelict community is troubled more by Ann herself than by her experiences. Young guilt-ridden, unemployed and divorced-with-a-restraining-order Tom Cross sees in Ann a ray of hope to overturn his own desperate situation.
Guterson observes and describes these people's lives with accuracy and precision. He looks at events from different points of view, it is up to the reader to draw the overall picture - if that exists at all. There is humor and tragedy, compassion and cynicism. The bulk of the book spans a mere four days in November, but you feel like you know these people intimately. Likewise for the description of nature and the often absurd scenes that take place, the reader is not a bystander but feels he's taking part in it rather than just watching it.
Guterson does not write fast-food literature, but for those willing to take their time, slow down and question received truths, this book is great food for thought.
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I've looked up most of the words I don't understand & they're certainly not in my dictionary.Read more