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Cover image for Our Lady of the Forest
Format:
Title:
Our Lady of the Forest
ISBN:
9780375412110

9780747560180

9780375726576
Edition:
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : A.A. Knopf, 2003.
Physical Description:
323 pages ; 25 cm
Summary:
This novel is about a teenage girl, Ann Holmes, who claims to see the Virgin Mary. A sixteen-year-old runaway, Ann is an itinerant mushroom picker who lives in a tent. But on a November afternoon, in the foggy woods of North Fork, Washington, the Virgin comes to her, clear as day. Father Collins--a young priest new to North Fork--finds Ann disturbingly alluring. But it is up to him to evaluate--impartially--the veracity of Ann's sightings: Are they delusions, or a true calling to God? As word spreads and thousands, including the press, converge upon the town, Carolyn Greer, a smart-talking fellow mushroomer, becomes Ann's disciple of sorts, as well as her impromptu publicity manager. And Tom Cross, an embittered logger who has been out of work since his son was paralyzed in a terrible accident, finds in Ann's visions a last chance for redemption for both himself and his son. As Father Collins searches his own soul and Ann's, as Carolyn struggles with her less than admirable intentions, as Tom alternates between despair and hope, Our Lady of the Forest tells a suspenseful, often wryly humorous, and deeply involving story of faith at a contemporary crossroads.
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Available:*

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FIC GUTERSON
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GUTERSON
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FICTION - GUTERSON
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GUTERSON
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Summary

Summary

From the best-selling author ofSnow Falling on Cedars--an emotionally charged, provocative new novel about a teenage girl who claims to see the Virgin Mary. Ann Holmes seems an unlikely candidate for revelation. A sixteen-year-old runaway, she is an itinerant mushroom picker who lives in a tent. But on a November afternoon, in the foggy woods of North Fork, Washington, the Virgin comes to her, clear as day. Father Collins--a young priest new to North Fork--finds Ann disturbingly alluring. But it is up to him to evaluate--impartially--the veracity of Ann's sightings: Are they delusions, or a true calling to God? As word spreads and thousands, including the press, converge upon the town, Carolyn Greer, a smart-talking fellow mushroomer, becomes Ann's disciple of sorts, as well as her impromptu publicity manager. And Tom Cross, an embittered logger who's been out of work since his son was paralyzed in a terrible accident, finds in Ann's visions a last chance for redemption for both himself and his son. As Father Collins searches his own soul and Ann's, as Carolyn struggles with her less than admirable intentions, as Tom alternates between despair and hope,Our Lady of the Foresttells a suspenseful, often wryly humorous, and deeply involving story of faith at a contemporary crossroads.


Author Notes

David Guterson was born in Seattle and later graduated from the University of Washington. Before becoming a full-time writer, Guterson was a high school English teacher and a contributing editor for Harper's Magazine.

Guterson has published The Country Ahead of Us, The Country Behind, a collection of short stories, and Family Matters: Why Home Schooling Makes Sense, a nonfiction book. Snow Falling on Cedars is Guterson's most famous work; it has won the Pen/Faulkner Award and was an American Booksellers Book of the Year Nominee.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

Adult/High School-Guterson gives readers a contemporary world in which spiritual and ancient concerns are brought to the forefront of awareness. Subsisting as an itinerant mushroom picker in the rain forest of Washington, an abused runaway teen experiences visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who speaks to her and directs her to encourage the building of a shrine in the place of the visions' occurrence. A slightly older young woman, who has no belief in the tenets of any faith, introduces Ann to the local Roman Catholic priest, a man who is both intellectual and spiritual, and who is bothered by his own predilection for impure thoughts about the young seer. News of Ann's visions brings in hordes of believers and the curious, including another local, a middle-aged man who has isolated himself since the accident that paralyzed his teenaged son. Guterson keeps this diverse handful of central characters in constant tension, allowing readers to empathize with all of them while questioning their motives. Teens concerned with matters of faith, belief, the mysteries surrounding unbidden experiences with mythically powerful beings, and the fallible nature of both the best and the worst adults will find a lot here to ponder and discuss. Familiarity with Christianity isn't necessary to accessing this tale, although such a background will add another layer of complexity to readers' considerations of the story.-Francisca Goldsmith, Berkeley Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (Oct. 3) Forecast: The gloominess of this uncompromising novel may deflect some readers, but others will be drawn in by its intensity. Look for it to hit bestseller lists, though the 350,000 first printing may be ambitious. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Kirkus Review

A young pothead has visions of the Virgin Mary, and all hell breaks loose in this witty fable of faith, greed, purity, and hope from the bestselling author (Snow Falling on Cedars, 1994, etc.). She's not exactly St. Bernadette, but Ann Holmes is a decent girl, especially considering her bad start in life. The illegitimate daughter of a teenager, Ann grew up poor and ran away from home at 14 after her mother's boyfriend began raping her. Now she's an itinerant farmworker, residing in a state campground and eking out a living picking wild mushrooms in the rain-soaked forests near North Fork, Washington. A devout Catholic who never goes anywhere without her catechism and rosary, Ann is considered something of an oddball by the other campers, but she makes several friends, including fellow runaway Carolyn Greer, an active doper with none of Ann's religious sensibilities. When Ann confides in Carolyn that she thinks she has seen the Virgin Mary in the forest one morning, Carolyn tells her flat-out that she's either tripping or nuts. They go to see whether the local priest can make any sense of the situation. Father Collins is an unlikely spiritual advisor; he lives in a trailer park, reads Travel & Leisure on the can, and rarely wears a collar. Skeptical but sympathetic, he encourages Ann to bring him reports of these apparitions as they take place. Naturally, word gets out, and Ann soon has a large cult of followers. Their demand that a church be erected on the site of the visions causes problems with the local bishop (whose investigating commission considers Ann deluded) and the local timber company (which owns the forest). It also makes life even worse for Ann, who never wanted to be the leader of anything. Sharp and incisive without a trace of either cynicism or credulity: a clever take on a familiar fable of redemption. Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Booklist Review

Guterson follows up Snow Falling on Cedars (1994) and East of the Mountains (1999) with another novel set in the Pacific Northwest. The rain-sodden timber town of North Fork has been hit hard by the downturn in the timber industry, and the only businesses that thrive are the bars, patronized by out-of-work loggers and itinerant mushroom pickers. One of these, Ann Holmes, is a fragile teenage runaway who is convinced that the Virgin Mary visits her in the rain forest. Too many psilocybin mushrooms, or is Ann a true visionary? Before long, thousands of pilgrims arrive in North Fork, overrunning the local motels and laundromats, trampling the forest floor, and hanging religious gimcracks on bushes and trees. Meanwhile, the locals respond in different ways. Some, like Ann's cynical de facto manager Carolyn Greer, see a moneymaking opportunity. Father Collins, the young priest to whom Ann brings a message from the Virgin, has to reconcile his own skepticism, longings, and beliefs. And Tom Cross, whose life has imploded since a logging accident that paralyzed his son, is looking for redemption. Though some readers may be frustrated by the slow pace, Guterson's third novel is thoughtful, humane, richly detailed, and atmospheric. It should be welcomed by those who loved Snow Falling on Cedars. --Mary Ellen Quinn Copyright 2003 Booklist


Library Journal Review

Guterson won the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award for Snow Falling on Cedars, and his latest novel should receive comparable acclaim. It is set in the forests of Washington State, where a failing lumber town receives 85 inches of rain a year. The continual grayness works together with mildew, moss, and the pervasive damp to create a convincing atmosphere of defeat. Into this environment comes Ann, an abused and now homeless teenager who while sick and severely malnourished has a vision of the Virgin Mary. For this dark and forgotten town, her vision becomes a ray of sunlight-and a source of economic development. Knowledge of Ann's vision rapidly draws the web-informed followers of Virgin sightings from across the country, and the miracles associated with it become a source of debate within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and among Ann's disciples, who include the devout and the opportunistic. The most notable aspect of Guterson's novel is the depth and complexity with which he imbues his characters; even the crowd of followers is given definition. This exquisitely set novel evokes the many complicated aspects of the human condition within a timeless yet unique story. Highly recommended for all readers at all libraries.-Rebecca Stuhr, Grinnell Coll. Libs., IA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.