Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
'that loner who lived in the woods for seven years and who bequeathed me $440,000,000'
on 20 January 2015
I got increasingly wrapped up in this novel: narrated by Neil Countryman, an English teacher of working class origin, whose life has followed fairly ordinary lines - marriage, children, an aim to write his own book. But Neil's life has another side - his friend since his teens, wealthy John William Barry. As John William moves from just being 'unusual' to dropping out entirely, living a bleak life of a hermit in the deepest, harshest forests of Washington State, Neil pays regular visits, bringing supplies and books, playing chess and discussing the belief of the former in Gnosticism... And compelled by an earlier 'blood oath' never to reveal his friend's whereabouts....
Vivid descriptions of nature and survival; the desperately touching account of John William (mad or wise? Driven to such extreme behaviour by parental failings?) For me the final message was that each man must forge his own path: despite Neil's efforts on his friend's behalf, he had to live his own life most of the time, leaving John William to go his own way.
Unique and extremely readable.