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
  • 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

Chapter One

The book, her book, was bound in black, with the words North of Nowhere indented in worn gold on the spine. Dirty and dusty, the boards loose under the cloth, it resembled a kind of withered bat. I looked at it with vague distaste. Then, almost as if it had suddenly come to life, it slithered out of my grasp, jabbed my foot, bounced and splayed open. I picked it up. I didn't know then how dangerous fairy tales can be.

I was trying to separate my possessions from those of my wife, Georgina. A biography in books, this is why some people scan your shelves, in the manner of a Roman seer gazing at entrails. There were duplicate editions of T. S. Eliot and Shakespeare, of Beckett, Pinter, and Joyce. My own copies of Conrad, Dostoevsky, and Waugh jumbled up with her Austen, George Eliot and the Brontës...the male versus the female canon. The plays I had been in, with my parts underlined in lurid orange. Her university texts, with notes scribbled in pencil or biro. Then single volumes, signifying union: paperbacks stained with the oils of lost summers, whose cracked spines still released cascades of fine sand or faded blades of pale grass; hardbacks generously inscribed to mark birthdays or Christmas, passed from one to the other at bedtime as a preliminary to love; bound proofs of new books, battered ghosts of old ones. All of these, left to me to divide and put into boxes. She had taken the children's books, as she had taken the children. We had been separated now for over a year, and were getting divorced.

I had been astonished by how much suffering this had caused, and was now weary. My body had taken on a life of its own, in which it wept while I remained an embarrassed parent, unable to control its excesses. She had gone and I had stayed. It wasn't just because I'd been determined not to relinquish this house. I had been unable to do anything. Once a fortnight, I would emerge to buy groceries. Otherwise I slumped in an armchair, without hope or energy. Some days, I couldn't remember how to talk. On really bad days, I couldn't even walk either. Eventually, after a bout of snarling by lawyers, we had agreed to sell and split the proceeds. The new owners were people who would paper over the walls and drain the Japanese pond I had made in the garden (I had heard them agreeing on this in loud voices, when they walked round with the estate agent). Several other prospective buyers had dropped out even as they walked to the front door. I had heard stories of divorcees who had bought a dog just so it could crap over all the carpets and drive the price down, but my neglect wasn't calculated. I had given up washing anything, including myself. The small, synchronized actions to get to the bathroom were too much for me. I knew the new owners would think I was crazy anyway. People always think this of the person who lived in their house before them. It's a way of pretending you never existed.

In every room, packers were entombing our furniture, wadding it in transparent, silvery bubbles that, they assured me, would protect the most fragile of objects. If I stood still for long enough, there was even a chance they might do the same to me. I shivered. The front and back doors were open, the heating switched off. What had been my life, our life, was finally ebbing from this place. Already, the house was acquiring a hollow sound, motes swirling in weak sunlight as if the very atoms of my existence were being sent into Brownian motion. There was nothing but boxes and dust, and these, too, would go--a ghostly picture here, a chair there, wiped out, painted over, forgotten.

I turned over the book I held. The pages were spotted like elderly hands. I began to read, mechanically.

"At least tell me the way," she said, "and I will seek you--that I may surely be allowed to do?"

"There is no hope, not unless you wear out an iron staff and a pair of iron shoes in searching," said he. "The troll witch lives in a castle which lies East of the Sun and West of the Moon, and there too is her daughter the princess with a nose three ells long, and she is the one I now must marry."

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!

One-Month Free Membership

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Commonwealth
    Commonwealth
    by Ann Patchett
    Opening Ann Patchett's novel Commonwealth about two semi-functional mid-late 20th Century ...
  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman in Moscow
    A Gentleman in Moscow
    by Amor Towles
    It is June 21, 1922, and 33-year-old Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is convicted of being a class ...
  • Book Jacket: I Contain Multitudes
    I Contain Multitudes
    by Ed Yong
    If a stranger were to accost you on the street and tell you that, from birth, you have never been ...

First Impressions

Book Discussions
Book Jacket
Under the Udala Trees
by Chinelo Okparanta

Raw, emotionally intelligent and unflinchingly honest--a triumph.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root

"A gripping, timely, and important examination of American racism."
- PW Starred Review

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D C Y C Before T A H

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.

 
X

Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!



Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.