From Annie Proulx, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Shipping News and Brokeback Mountain, comes her masterpiece, 10 years in the writing - an epic, dazzling, violent, magnificently dramatic novel about taming the wilderness and destroying the forest, set over three centuries.
In the late 17th century, two illiterate woodsmen, Rene Sel and Charles Duquet, make their way from Northern France to New France to seek a living. Bound to a feudal lord, a seigneur, for three years in exchange for land, they suffer extraordinary hardship, always in awe of the forest they are charged with clearing, sometimes brimming with dreams of its commercial potential.
Rene marries an Indian healer, and they have children, mixing the blood of two cultures. Duquet travels the globe and back, starting a logging company that will prosper for generations.
Proulx tells the stories of the children, grandchildren, and descendants of these two lineages, the Sels and the Duquets, as well as the descendants of their allies and foes, as they travel back to Europe, to China, to New England, always in quest of a livelihood or a fortune or fleeing stunningly brutal conditions - accidents, pestilence, Indian attacks, the revenge of rivals.
In this feat of astonishing imagination, Proulx's inimitable genius is her creation of characters who are so vivid - in their greed, lust, vengefulness, sorrow, compassion, and hope - that we follow them with fierce attention. Annie Proulx is one of the most formidable writers of our time, and Barkskins is the story she has been writing all her life: a magnificent American novel.
©2016 Annie Proulx (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
Praise for Annie Proulx: "One of the greatest American writers." (Independent)
"A sublimely good writer." (Daily Telegraph)
"It is hard to think of any living writer who deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Dickens, with the exception of Proulx." (New Statesman)
"Proulx's prose is monumental." (Observer)
"Like a mystic seeing the transfigured universe, she recreates the beauty of ordinary things." (Independent on Sunday)
"Ms. Proulx writes with all the brutal beauty of one of her Wyoming snowstorms." (Wall Street Journal)
"Annie Proulx is a true original. She has a shrewd understanding of people, a strong feeling for landscape and a wry sense of humour rather like Mark Twain's." (Los Angeles Times)
"Artful, eloquent, wondrous." (Boston Globe)
This book is poetry. The writing is strong and evocative but it is so long covering hundreds of years. ... Hundreds of characters ... Hundreds of stories. An important over-arching story of man's greed and destruction with small shoots of hope.
This book seems really sprawling and disjointed. Its baffling, it seemed to try to address too many issues…everything from environmental vandalism, sexism, raciscm, colonialism …. to incest? an ambitious project and didn't quite meet the mark. I really didn't feel connected to ..or particularly like ….. any of the characters. A waste of my time really.
"Proulx is brilliant as always."
An absolutely stunning novel. Proulx could not do more to show us how white colonialism has stolen and then destroyed everything it touched in the name of progress.
"A real tour de force"
The summary of this book did not appeal but, having just listened to 'The Shipping News' and loved it, I thought I would try my second Annie Proulx. Very glad I did. A fascinating book, beautifully written and well read. I felt it tailed off slightly at the end and became a little preachy, but that is a minor criticism of a long and enthralling novel. I think listening to the audiobook was a good move for me as I tend to struggle with difficult/unfamiliar names. I suspect the written version would be more of a challenge.
"Very detailed story, but couldn't finish"
Maybe. You can tell Annie Proulx researched this novel thoroughly and you do get a strong feel for the settling of North America, from both the colonizers and the colonized. Often very gritty and thorougly detailed, but after awhile the characters become character studies--summations. A character will be there for several chapters and then die out, so I never got fully invested with any of them. I have read other epic novels and loved them, but with so much years passing, it just became a thing of 'OK, what decades are we onto next? Which generation is this now?' Most of the point of views were from the male characters and rarely from the female. I was also quite annoyed by the dialogue of the Native Americans, which seemed to fall on the stereotypical speech of no reflective verbs 'am', 'is', or 'are'. I was expecting 'Me Tonto' at any moment.
Didn't finish the book.
Not really. While his accent range was quite amazing and his pronunciation of French and Danish words and names equally so, his narrative voice wasn't particularly exciting or enganging.
"A wonderful book"
Loved this book and will feel bereft now I've finished it. So many important issues covered with an excellent portrayal of the origins of modern days ecological disasters. Captivating story line, fascinating insight into the history of the timber trade. Cannot praise it enough!
"Epic & intriguing"
Great book, flawless performance. Combines family history with ecology & the changes over centuries. Recommended.
When I started listening I thought this was going to be epic. I felt the author did not always give enough time to allow you to engage and grow with a character before moving on, almost like the amount of years covered in the book did not allow the author to do this. The performance was ok but I almost felt like he needed to move it on as there was a lot to get through. Would I recommend probably not, I have listened to far more entertaining stories which cover generations. Who would I recommend to if I did, probably someone interested in the logging history of North America.
"Story of the American continental forest"
Great history of the relationship between forest and human from 17th century to the present. tragic but also hopeful. And very enjoyable.
"Wonderful listening experience"
Yes. The information and ideas are too much to absorb the first time.
I can't think of another book quite like this. The characters are Dickensian and the span of the story is epic in terms of time and place.
It didn't make me cry but it was thought-provoking and tragic. At the end there is some sense of mankind becoming more aware of the Earth but thoughtless, irreparable damage has been done to the great forests of the planet for profit.
This could be a life-changing book.
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