Excerpt from In A Dark Wood by Amanda Craig, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

In A Dark Wood

by Amanda Craig

In A Dark Wood by Amanda Craig
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2002, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2003, 320 pages

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


Then the girl fell into a deep, deep sleep; and when she awoke there was no prince or castle, only a little patch of green on which she lay and the great dark wood all around. By her side was the same bundle of rags that she had brought with her from her own home.

Why should these words have affected me so deeply? Perhaps it was seeing my own home vanish, like that of the girl in the story. Perhaps it was knowing that I was heading North of Nowhere, too. Or perhaps it was the drawing beside it, occupying almost the whole page, and executed in black ink. There was an ornate frame just inside the margin of white, made of intertwined thorns, and then the illustration itself.

What I saw was a girl, waking up in a tiny clearing almost completely overgrown by black brambles and branches. There was no visible way out, just a shaft of sunlight coming down on her like a spotlight in a theatre. Her face was a white wedge of misery. The darkness pressed in upon her, wave on wave of chaotic, seething undergrowth: yet was repulsed. You could tell, I don't know how or why, that this wasn't going to be the end of the story, that she was going to get up and put on those iron shoes and find the happiness she had lost. She looked the way I felt, or wanted to feel.

High on an empty bookcase, a telephone rang. It would not be cut off until noon. I closed the book with an effort and thrust it into the pocket of my jacket.

"Oh, hi, hi, it's me. I was just wondering how you are." This was Diana, one of several single women who had decided that my emotional, psychological, and gastronomic well-being was of particular concern to her. Diana was the most persistent.

"Fine."

"I just wanted to know if there's anything I can do. I could get a couple of hours off work, to help you pack, you know? It must be so difficult for you."

"It's done. Thank you."

I forced myself to sound a little less churlish, and immediately a tin of syrupy concern oozed towards me.

"Are you sleeping OK? Eating? You know, any time you want something cooked, let me know. You need to look after yourself, Dick."

As I lied that I was not drowning but microwaving my Meals for One, the line began an insistent chirping. This was my excuse for ringing off, in case it was my agent.

"Hallo? It's Sarah? I suddenly realized you're about to have a new number. I'm having a drinks party next week. Would you like to come?"

They were all so hesitant, these Cinderellas of the mating game, it was difficult to see them as predatory. Something had gone wrong in their lives--they had worked too hard, or played too fast, or been too soft or stayed too long--and now they were desperate, strung out, seeking salvation at the eleventh hour before the biological clock struck midnight. It was not myself they wanted so much as any half-decent heterosexual husband. They had hearts overflowing with love, yet they woke up every morning and saw the gradual withering, the shriveling, the advance of age that only marriage and childbearing could make tolerable. I felt sorry for them, but fed up. I wasn't the solution to anybody's problem, any more than they were to mine.

Upstairs, the packers grunted. The tape they carried in large reels thrummed and shrieked; they would cut the right length with keys--keys, presumably, to their own homes. The dismantling of my own would not take much longer, I knew. Boxes were stacked like battlements on either side of me; I envisaged Georgina and myself crouched down behind our respective barricades like two feuding medieval barons, sniping at each other.

As if in response, the telephone rang again. My wife's voice. I imagined it being bounced down from space, as heartless and cheerful as a goddess speaking from her oracle. "How's it all going?"

I gritted my teeth, and tried to keep my voice even and light. Years of training, and in a situation like this I still start to hyperventilate. "Like a nervous breakdown in slow motion."

Excerpted from In a Dark Wood by Amanda Craig Copyright 2002 by Amanda Craig. Excerpted by permission of Nan A. Talese, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket
    The Summer Before the War
    by Helen Simonson
    Set on the cusp of World War I, The Summer Before the War exudes strength and spirit as a small town...
  • Book Jacket: Lincoln in the Bardo
    Lincoln in the Bardo
    by George Saunders
    George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo is a philosophy discourse brilliantly disguised as a ...
  • Book Jacket
    Tender
    by Belinda McKeon
    Most of us have heard the slightly trite saying: "If you love something, set it free." But one can ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Victoria
by Daisy Goodwin

"A hit…The research is impeccable, the attention to detail, perfect." - The Sunday Mirror (UK)

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    A Piece of the World
    by Christina Baker Kline

    A stunning novel of friendship, passion, and art from the #1 bestselling author of Orphan Train.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Fifth Petal
    by Brunonia Barry

    Beloved author Brunonia Barry returns to the world of The Lace Reader with this spellbinding new thriller.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Finishing second in the Olympics gets you silver. Finishing second in politics gets you oblivion.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

K Your F C

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.