AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
"Lauren Groff just reinvented the adventure novel."—Los Angeles Times
"Glorious…surroundings come alive in prose that lives and breathes upon the page." —Boston Globe
“I know of few other writers whose sentences are so beautiful and so propulsive." —New York Times Book Review
A taut and electrifying novel from celebrated bestselling author Lauren Groff, about one spirited girl alone in the wilderness, trying to survive
A servant girl escapes from a colonial settlement in the wilderness. She carries nothing with her but her wits, a few possessions, and the spark of god that burns hot within her. What she finds in this terra incognita is beyond the limits of her imagination and will bend her belief in everything that her own civilization has taught her.
Lauren Groff’s new novel is at once a thrilling adventure story and a penetrating fable about trying to find a new way of living in a world succumbing to the churn of colonialism. The Vaster Wilds is a work of raw and prophetic power that tells the story of America in miniature, through one girl at a hinge point in history, to ask how—and if—we can adapt quickly enough to save ourselves.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
At once a fascinating historical novel of America’s early colonial era and a page-turning thriller, The Vaster Wilds is a riveting read. When a young servant named Lamentations leaves her disease-ridden settlement behind and escapes into the wintry wilds of 1600s Virginia, she quickly discovers the horrors of the world around her, from the unforgiving elements and illness to feral animals and the depravity of the people she runs across. (An encounter with a priest gone mad is downright nightmare inducing.) Author Lauren Groff—whose previous novels Fates and Furies, Matrix, and Arcadia are all staff favorites—writes with pulse-pounding intensity and immersive detail about the brutal realities of colonial life, using a harsh, almost taunting omniscient narrator to point out whenever the book’s young protagonist makes a mistake or journeys in the wrong direction. This haunting historical fable will have you glued to your favorite reading chair.
Groff's extraordinary latest (after Matrix) tracks the life of an adolescent servant girl who flees a Jamestownesque settlement in colonial America and sets out across the wilderness. Traveling in winter, the unnamed narrator sustains herself by hunting and gathering. Despite the harsh conditions, she delights in the natural scenery, which Groff depicts with wrenching beauty ("she saw in the dim and silvery light the wind lifting lighter snow and sculpting it into a shining city with rooftops and chimneys and a steeple and even the smoke of fires merrily ascending from the chimneys toward heaven"). Through the girl's memories, the reader learns she was adopted at four from a parish poorhouse in England by a well-off woman and her husband and was tormented by the couple's older son. Several years later, the husband dies and the woman marries an ambitious minister. They force the girl to accompany them to the New World and care for their newborn baby. The colony turns out to be a godforsaken place wracked by illness, lack of food, and violent confrontations with Indigenous people. There are many exciting episodes—the narrator encounters a bear, a wolf, and an unruly former Jesuit priest who also subsists in the wild—and the staggering ending reveals the details surrounding her escape. Groff builds and maintains suspense on multiple levels, while offering an unflinching portrayal of her heroine's desperation and will to survive. This is a triumph. Agent: Bill Clegg, Clegg Agency.
The Vaster Wilds
A poem about life and living. Interesting in its use of language and the study of life in the wilderness that is America. Worth a read.