The Boys in the Trees: A Novel

by Mary Swan

Henry Holt and Co. | January 22, 2008 | Trade Paperback |

3.75 out of 5 rating. 4 Reviews
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"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.

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 224 Pages, 5.12 × 7.87 × 0.39 in

Published: January 22, 2008

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0805086706

ISBN - 13: 9780805086706

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– More About This Product –

The Boys in the Trees: A Novel

by Mary Swan

Format: Trade Paperback

Dimensions: 224 Pages, 5.12 × 7.87 × 0.39 in

Published: January 22, 2008

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0805086706

ISBN - 13: 9780805086706

Read from the Book

Excerpt And then he was running through the long grass, wiping at the blood that made it hard to see but not slowing, still running. The roaring fell away behind and he knew that meant his father would turn on one of the others, that his mother would step into the worst of it, but he didn’t care; at that moment he didn’t even care. Still running when he reached the edge of the wood, dodging the whips from the spindly first trees, leaping and tripping over fallen, rotting trunks, running and running toward the dark heart of it. Not even slowing, not thinking when he saw the low, curved branch, jumped and pulled with his thin arms, climbed like an animal, bare toes gripping, until he was up where everything swayed and whispered, green leaves all around. He wiped at his face again and felt the way his eye was swelling shut, tried to quiet his gasping breath. He didn’t know what had brought the sudden kick, the fist to the head, but it wasn’t worth wondering about; there was rarely a reason that anyone would recognize. He would have to go back, he knew that, but knew too that if he waited long enough his father would have worn himself out with the thick leather strap, the leg of the broken chair. Would have collapsed onto the bed like one of those mossy, fallen trees, battered knuckles trailing over the side. His shirt was so thin it was like nothing at all and the rough bark scratched at his back where he leaned. He was well below the top of the tree but
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From the Publisher

"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.

About the Author

Mary Swan is the winner of the 2001 O. Henry Award for short fiction and is the author of the collection The Deep and Other Stories (Random House). Her work has appeared in several Canadian literary magazines, including The Malahat Review, the Ontario Review, and Best Canadian Stories, as well as American publications such as Harper''s. She lives with her husband and daughter near Toronto.

Editorial Reviews

“This is a mesmerizing novel, that can truly claim to be filled with a ‘terrible beauty.’”—Alice Munro “Intricate, haunting, entrancing, its mystery woven in the texture of the tiny details.”—Tessa Hadley, author of The Master Bedroom “A lovely poignant novel, the movement of the narrative in time and space as natural and intricate as the movement of waves. The stories seem to be telling themselves, yet they are the product of tender and attentive craftsmanship.  . . . After finishing it, I feel as if I am still listening for it. It has the compelling logic of a lingering, powerful dream.”—Hilary Mantel, author of Beyond Black   “Beautifully written, the novel transpires in close-up, conveying a sense of intimacy and moving us right into the realm of the sometimes glorious, sometimes ghastly details.  There are scenes you will not soon forget.”—Ann Beattie “[T]he novel is wonderful. The Boys in the Trees reads like a palimpsest, layering significance on significance . . .This is a book that will grow on rereading, and an author who may prove to be a master of the genre.”— The San Francisco Chronicle (2/23/08) “Swan’s prose is tense, rhythmic and emotionally evocative . . . with its forceful observations and willed ambiguities, this challenging and often beautiful book can be as unsettling—and sometimes maddening—as a long look in the mir
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