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.
A starred or boxed review indicates a book of outstanding quality. A review with a blue-tinted title indicates a book of unusual commercial interest that hasn't received a starred or boxed review.OUR LADY OF THE FORESTDavid Guterson. Knopf, (336p) When Ann Holmes starts having visions of the Virgin Mary, the bedraggled teen runaway becomes the last hope for the inhabitants of a dank, economically depressed logging town and the hordes of miracle-seekers who descend on it. In this panoramic, psychologically dense novel, she also becomes a symbol of the intimate intertwining of the sacred and the profane in American life. Guterson (Snow Falling on Cedars; East of the Mountains), tells the story from the viewpoint of four lost souls groping for redemption: Ann; Carolyn, an aging, overeducated, cynical drifter who takes Ann under her wing to profit from her growing fame; a local priest wrestling with his doubts about, and lust for, the visionary; and a tormented ex-logger trying to atone for the accident that paralyzed his son. Guterson's evocative prose, pithy dialogue and piercing insights cut through the fog of sin and guilt that shadows these wounded characters like the overcast sky of the Pacific Northwest. And as Ann's visions stimulate a tourism boom and draw the attention of media vultures and a skeptical Catholic Church, Guterson explores larger social themes the demise of blue-collar America; the ironic symbiosis of religious devotion and commercial exploitation; the replacement of faith in God by faith in psychopharmacology; and the link between the exaltation of women's saintliness and the reality of women's degradation. Searching for the miraculous in the mundane, this ambitious and satisfying work builds vivid characters and trenchant storytelling into a serious and compassionate look at the moral quandaries of modern life.