To the Forest
CBC BOOKS WORKS OF CANADIAN FICTION TO READ IN THE FIRST HALF OF 2023
49th SHELF EDITORS' PICK FOR JUNE 2023
When a family is forced to return to the mother’s childhood home, she seeks meaning in her ancestral roots and the violent beauty of the natural world.
Fleeing the city at the beginning of the pandemic, two families are cramped together in a small century-old country house. Winter seeps through the walls, the wallpaper is peeling, and mice make their nest in the piano. Without phones or internet, they turn to the outdoors, where a new language unfolds, a language of fireflies and clover. The five children explore nature and its treasures, while our narrator, Anaïs, turns to the eccentric neighbours and her own family history to find peace and meaning in the middle of her life.
To the Forest is a field guide to a quieter life, a call to return to the places where we can reweave the threads of memory, where existence waltzes with death, where we can recapture what it means to be alive.
"Covering a period of grief, growth, and rebirth, To the Forest is an exquisite novel that revels in wild places." – Michelle Anne Schingler, Foreword Reviews
“Anaïs, with extraordinary delicacy and a flawless sense of observation, offers up words on love, death, great adventures, passing along knowledge and values, finding roots, beauty, and the resilience of nature.” – Journal de Québec
“With rare literary talent, the author tells a story that is tonic and poetic, that grabs readers from the opening lines and doesn’t let them go. An absolute jewel of emotion. Stunning!” – Salut, Bonjour!
“An autobiographical novel, spellbinding for its poetry, where imagination reigns, Femme forêt is like a reverse mirror of La femme qui fuit/Suzanne (Marchand de feuilles, 2015; Coach House Books, 2017), a magnificent portrait of her maternal grandmother, artist Suzanne Meloche. The aftermath of a ‘family history woven from abandonment,’ she wanted to weave ties with her loved ones, her community, and nature.” – Le Devoir
“Through pages and fragments that echo one another, the author tells the story of her clan, moments filled with the ordinary moments and the magic they experienced in their hideaway in the forest. She also brings to life a cast of colourful characters who have lived unusual lives.” – La Tribune