WINNER OF THE ARTHUR ELLIS AWARD
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2019 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
A CBC BOOKS "BEST CANADIAN FICTION" TITLE OF THE YEAR
From the award-winning author of If I Fall, If I Die comes a propulsive, multigenerational family story, in which the unexpected legacies of a remote island off the coast of British Columbia will link the fates of five people over a hundred years. Cloud Atlas meets The Overstory in this ingenious nested-ring epic set against the devastation of the natural world.
They come for the trees. It's 2038 and Jacinda (Jake) Greenwood is a storyteller and a liar, an overqualified tour guide babysitting ultra-rich-eco-tourists in one of the world's last remaining forests. It's 2008 and Liam Greenwood is a carpenter, sprawled on his back after a workplace fall and facing the possibility of his own death. It's 1974 and Willow Greenwood is just out of jail for one of her environmental protests: attempts at atonement for the sins of her father's once vast and rapacious timber empire. It's 1934 and Everett Greenwood is a Depression-era drifter who saves an abandoned infant, only to find himself tangled up in the web of a crime, secrets, and betrayal that will cling to his family for decades. And throughout, there are trees: a steady, silent pulse thrumming beneath Christie's effortless sentences, working as a guiding metaphor for withering, weathering, and survival.
Transporting, beautifully written, and brilliantly structured like the nested growth rings of a tree, Greenwood reveals the knot of lies, omissions, and half-truths that exists at the root of every family's origin story. It is a magnificent novel of greed, sacrifice, love, and the ties that bind--and the hopeful, impossible task of growing toward the light.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
With Greenwood, Michael Christie maps out one family’s saga the same way you’d trace a tree’s history through its concentric rings. The novel hopscotches through time to tell the stories of various characters who are related by both blood and choice, and are often at odds philosophically: A greedy lumber baron is the ancestor of both a passionate ’70s-era environmental activist and a botanist who’s leading ecotours in 2038. Christie nests a cautionary fable within his study of the ripple effects of trauma. This clever plot structure builds tension and suspense—and Christie’s beautifully imagined characters and historical moments enhance this stunning read.
Christie's rugged, riveting novel (after If I Fall, If I Die) entwines a family's rising and falling fortunes with Canada's dwindling old-growth forests. In a frightening, nearly treeless 2038, 33-year-old dendrologist Jacinda "Jake" Greenwood guides tourists on a British Columbia island where a rare forest withstood the global environmental disaster and ensuing economic collapse known as the Great Withering. While Jake worries about spots appearing on two fir trees, her ex-fianc , Silas, now a lawyer, informs her she could inherit a large sum from the Greenwood estate. Orphaned at age eight, Jake knows little about her family, and the more she learns through reading her grandmother's journal, the less she wants the money. Her father, Liam, was a carpenter and gifted woodworker. Liam's mother, Willow, was the ecoterrorist daughter of lumber tycoon Harris Greenwood. Willow, though, was not Harris's biological daughter. Abandoned as a baby, she was rescued by Harris's brother Everett and entrusted to Harris for safekeeping. Nor were Harris and Everett biological brothers; they were survivors of a train wreck who were raised together by a lumberjack's widow and given the name Greenwood. Christie recounts each generation's story through concentric flashbacks in which families, like forests, experience both devastation and renewal, anchored in Jake's recognition that she'd rather inherit the earth than a fortune derived from its destruction. This superb family saga will satisfy fans of Richard Powers's The Overstory while offering a convincing vision of potential ecological destruction.