The Overstory by Richard Powers

“But people have no idea what time is. They think it’s a line, spinning out from three seconds behind them, then vanishing just as fast into the three seconds of fog just ahead. They can’t see that time is one spreading ring wrapped around another, outward and outward until the thinnest skin of Now depends for its being on the enormous mass of everything that has already died.”

“Life has a way of talking to the future. It’s called memory. It’s called genes.”

“Life will cook; the seas will rise. The planet’s lungs will be ripped out. And the law will let this happen, because harm was never imminent enough. Imminent, at the speed of people, is too late. The law must judge imminent at the speed of trees.”

“We’re cashing in a billion years of planetary savings bonds and blowing it on assorted bling.”

“The greatest delight which the fields and woods minister, is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me, and I to them. The waving of the boughs in the storm, is new to me and old. It takes me by surprise, and yet is not unknown. Its effect is like that of a higher thought or a better emotion coming over me, when I deemed I was thinking justly or doing right.”

“She could tell them about a simple machine needing no fuel and little maintenance, one that steadily sequesters carbon, enriches the soil, cools the ground, scrubs the air, and scales easily to any size. A tech that copies itself and even drops food for free. A device so beautiful it’s the stuff of poems. If forests were patentable, she’d get an ovation.”

“Humans are so frail. How have they survived long enough to wreak all the shit they have?”


An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut. A hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies, and is sent back into life by creatures of air and light. A hearing- and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another. An Air Force crewmember in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan.

This is the story of these and five other strangers, each summoned in different ways by the natural world, who are brought together in a last stand to save it from catastrophe.

My Review:

There are some books that come along and just take your breath away, and that’s what this book did to me. The first half of the book reads like a series of short stories, each about a different person who develops a special, almost mystical, affinity with trees. In the second half of the book their stories become entwined as they join in a great environmental war. The author takes his time and makes sure the reader really knows the hearts of these very diverse characters, where they have come from and why they feel the way they do. The prose was almost lyrical while at the same time imparting a vast amount of knowledge to the reader. I wanted to highlight entire passages on almost every page just because they were so beautiful and insightful.

The Day She Came Back by Amanda Prowse


From the bestselling author of The Girl in the Corner comes a story that asks: how do you forgive the family that lied to you, and love the mum you never had?

When her loving, free-spirited grandmother Primrose passes away, Victoria is bereft, yet resilient—she has survived tragedy before. But even her strength is tested when a mysterious woman attends Prim’s funeral and claims to be the mother Victoria thought was dead.

As the two women get to know each other and Victoria begins to learn more about her past, it becomes clear that her beloved grandmother had been keeping life-changing secrets from her. Desperate for answers, she still struggles to trust anyone to tell her the truth.

To live a full and happy life, Victoria knows she must not only uncover the truth, but find a way to forgive her family. But after so many years, is trusting them even possible?

My review:

This is my first Amanda Prowse book and it will not be my last. The characters are so beautifully drawn, some with detail and others more sparingly, and yet each person becomes familiar to us.

Victoria has a wonderful relationship with her maternal grandmother, Prim, who brought her up after her mother’s (Prim’s daughter’s) death when Victoria was still a baby. Prim has been the rock in Victoria’s life until the unthinkable happens and Prim dies unexpectedly. From this moment on Victoria’s well ordered life begins to unravel, starting with Prim’s funeral when a woman appears, claiming to be Victoria’s ‘dead’ mother.

What I particularly loved was the time spent introducing Prim into the reader’s life. Her death is such a catalyst for what follows that it was very important for us to know and understand the place she held in Victoria’s life to be able to understand the impact of losing her.

I didn’t always like Victoria but her actions were believable for a teenager suddenly cut adrift from the parental tether of the grandmother who raised her. I strongly recommend this book.

The Last Dance by Martin L. Shoemaker


At the heart of a mystery unfolding in space, the opposing forces make a treacherous journey between Earth and Mars.

In space, mutiny means death—that’s why Inspector General Park Yerim is taking her investigation so seriously. The alleged mutineer is Captain Nicolau Aames, whose command of the massive Earth-Mars vessel Aldrin has come under fire. The vast System Initiative says he disobeyed orders, but his crew swears he’s in the right.

En route to Mars, Park gathers testimony from the Aldrin’s diverse crew, painting a complex picture of Aames’s character: his heroism, his failures, even his personal passions. As the investigation unfolds, Park finds herself in the thrall of powerful interests, each pushing and pulling her in a fiery cosmic dance.

Corruption, conflicting loyalties, and clashing accounts make it nearly impossible to see the truth in fifty million miles of darkness, and Park faces danger from every direction. All eyes are on her: one way or another, her findings will have astronomical implications for the Aldrin and the future of space travel.

My Review:

Rounded up to 4.5 stars.

The story is centred around General Inspector Park Yerim, on whose shoulders it has fallen to investigate allegations of mutiny brought against spaceship Captain Nick Aames. The story is told predominantly through a series of ‘off-the-record’ accounts by crew members of previous events in which the captain played major parts. It is through these accounts that the investigator and the reader come to form an understanding of the complex character of Captain Aames. Interspersed with these accounts the story reverts to the present and the investigation. Inspector Parks is in a difficult position – under pressure from all sides and finding herself being stonewalled and under threat.

Each account is almost a short story in itself and very interesting. The writing, dialogue, character-building and scene-setting were all brilliantly done. And I loved the very ending despite guessing it.

I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a book this much. This author was previously unknown to me, but I will now be looking up his back-catalogue.