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The Boys in the Trees: A Novel by Mary Swan
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The Boys in the Trees: A Novel

by Mary Swan

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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Sort of compelling, but pretty much a downer. ( )
  Siubhan | Feb 28, 2018 |
My work book club picked this book for our April 2010 read. Given the short length of the book I thought I would whisk through it but it was quite a complex book and I had to read carefully.

We think that family murder/suicides are a new phenomenon but the act that is central to this book took place in 1888. A man who had been embezzling from his employer (and this wasn't the first time he had done so) systematically kills his wife and then his two daughters. He flees the house and is found in nearby woods with one bullet still left in the gun he used on his family. The book uses many different narrators to talk about the events before, during and after the murders but never the man himself. Mary Swan says in the Q and A at the back of the books that "...I am most interested in the ripples caused by events, and the way so many things, especially human beings themselves, are ultimately unknowable." For me, this book seemed unfocused because of that. While it was interesting to read the different points of view there was no real climactic point.

I would probably read something else by this author but I won't be rushing out to the library to see if there are more books by her. It will be interesting to see what the other members of the book club think. ( )
  gypsysmom | Dec 17, 2011 |
Simply could not get through this book. ( )
  Eliz12 | Dec 6, 2011 |
Somewhat long winded and seemingly unrelated to the murders, people in the town take on different perspectives of a tragedy after a man murders his entire family. As the reader, you have to make a lot of inferences... nothing is really set in stone. ( )
  ABookVacation | Nov 12, 2011 |
This book, even though short as it is, took me forever to get through. I was completely confused for the first fifty or so pages as to who was telling the story and what part they played. I would have given up but I really hate to leave a book unfinished.

The writing style was confusing, and did not flow well at all. I had to constantly go back to what I just read and read it again to figure out what was going on. I doubt I will read another book by this author.

That being said, I did appreciate that not much detail was given to the actual murders themselves. I felt it was more important to get the reactions of the town instead of just a gory story. Not many books will leave out such a big part of the plot. ( )
1 vote jaidahsmommy | Jan 20, 2011 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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Epigraph
And there are some who have no memorial,
who have perished as though they had not lived;
they have become as though they had not been born,
and so have their children after them.

--Ecclesiasticus 44:9
Dedication
For my friend Linda, first and ideal reader
First words
And then he was running through the long grass, wiping at the blood that made it hard to see but not slowing, still running.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0805086706, Paperback)

“This is a mesmerizing novel, that can truly claim to be filled with a ‘terrible beauty.’”—Alice Munro

Newly arrived to the countryside, William Heath, his wife, and two daughters appear the picture of a devoted family. But when accusations of embezzlement spur William to commit an unthinkable crime, those who witnessed this affectionate, attentive father go about his routine of work and family must reconcile action with character. A doctor who has cared for one daughter, encouraging her trust, examines the finer details of his brief interactions with William, searching for clues that might penetrate the mystery of his motivation. Meanwhile the other daughter’s teacher grapples with guilt over a moment when fate wove her into a succession of events that will haunt her dreams.

In beautifully crafted prose, Mary Swan examines the volatile collisions between our best intentions—how a passing stranger can leave an indelible mark on our lives even as the people we know most intimately become alienated by tides of self-preservation and regret. In her nuanced, evocative descriptions a locket contains immeasurable sorrow, trees provide sanctuary and refuge to lost souls, and grief clicks into place when a man cocks the cold steel barrel of a revolver. A supreme literary achievement, The Boys in the Trees offers a chilling story that swells with acutely observed emotion and humanity.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:30 -0400)

"At the turn of the twentieth century, newly arrived to the North American countryside, William, his wife, and two daughters appear the picture of a devoted family. But when accusations of embezzlement spur William to commit an unthinkable crime, those who witnessed this affectionate, attentive father go about his routine of work and family must reconcile action with character. A doctor who has cared for the young Lillian searches for clues that might penetrate the mystery of the father's motivation. Meanwhile Rachel's teacher grapples with guilt over a moment when fate wove her into a succession of events that will haunt her dreams." "Mary Swan examines the volatile collisions between our best intentions - how a passing stranger can leave an indelible mark on our lives even as the people we know most intimately become alienated by tides of self-preservation and regret. In her nuanced, evocative descriptions a locket contains immeasurable sorrow, trees provide sanctuary and refuge to lost souls, and grief clicks into place when a man cocks the cold steel barrel of a revolver."--Jacket.… (more)

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