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The Clearing by Mary Elsie Robertson

The Clearing

by Mary Elsie Robertson

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Well written, with good descriptions, use of natural imagery to reflect emotions. Annie is a survivor the winter in a remote cabin, chopping her own wood, planning meticulously what is needed to leave the co-dependent abusive relationship she was in. Her 4 year old son, Arie, is in the novel mainly as a focus for her thoughts--it seems days might go by in which he does nothing but sleep while she plans, obsesses, reflects.
The timelessness, the internal focus of a woman talking to herself reminds me of The Wall, which I recently read, yet The Clearing is more realistic, has more of a dramatic focus.
I love the north woods and so loved parts of this. " It surprised her that she was at peace, even happy, as she set the blade of the axe into the trunk of the tree and heard the echoes of those blows ringing far into the woods...Her world ended at the edge of the clearing--nothing else concerned her. But within her space she felt a connectedness with everything she could see or sense. The hard, brilliant sky, the snow, the dark shapes of the trees, the animals who shared this world of cold with her." (p 41)
Though I rate it highly, this is not a book I'll keep or read again because I don't want to return to that place. ( )
  juniperSun | Jun 15, 2014 |
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Awards and honors
For Robin Morgan and for Jenny Esther Marchant
First words
All day north.
"It wasn't spirits she feared. It was absence that seemed to fill her as a wind pillows leaves." (p 171) "...she was left to herself like a tree or a rock." (p 172)
There was a lesson to be learned--that of containment, of the hoarding of energy. She was a neophyte in surviving this white, bitter time, and she must take note and learn from those who had survived other winters. (p. 42)
When he pointed out the window and said "Blue" she knew instantly what he meant--the shadows stretching under the trees, the color of the snow strangely blue. (p 42)
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Haiku summary
Running from cold eyes,

A refuge in snowy pines,

The past watches still.

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