Into the Trees by Robert Williams

TreesFrom prize-winning author Robert Williams, a novel about love and fear, family and security, and the search for sanctuary in the middle of chaos.

Harriet Norton won’t stop crying. Her parents, Ann and Thomas, are being driven close to insanity and only one thing will help. Mysteriously, their infant daughter will only calm when she’s under the ancient trees of Bleasdale forest.

The Nortons sell their town-house and set up home in an isolated barn. Secluded deep in the forest, they are finally approaching peace – until one night a group of men comes through the trees, ready to upend their lives and threaten everything they’ve built. 

Into the Trees is the story of four dispossessed people, drawn to the forest in search of something they lack and finding their lives intertwining in ways they could never have imagined. In hugely evocative and lyrical writing, Robert Williams lays bare their emotional lives, set against the intense and mysterious backdrop of the forest. Compelling and haunting, Into the Trees is a magisterial novel.

After reading the blurb I was quite excited to get round to reading this book. It promised mystery, intrigue and something a little bit different. However, the end result was quite disappointing and I (and pretty much the entire group) felt quite cheated with the overall story. Without giving too much away the beginning draws the reader in with quite a generic problem, which then has quite an unusual solution. It’s this solution that raises the readers’ intrigue and urges you to turn the page, however, those first few chapters of wonder are soon forgotten as we delve into a completely different direction to that which you would expect.

Some of the group felt that there may have been some possible magic involved but, alas, it comes to nothing. This was probably the biggest disappointment for the group, myself included. It simply felt as though the beginning was a simple set up to draw in the reader because the story itself was pretty flat. Even as you read along you couldn’t help but wonder whether the beginning will creep back into the book and leave you in complete amazement into how the author did it, or simply give you that ‘didn’t see that coming’ feeling, but this twist, this special moment, this life-changing scene just doesn’t happen.

It’s rare that, as a group, we collective don’t like something but this was one of those books. Having said that we did manage to pull out quite a few questions and discussions, even if they were mainly complaints and ideas of how to make it better! It’s a sad shame really because the book had so much promise and potential with some excellent scenes for some great action, or twists, but nothing seems to happen and it just doesn’t seem to go anywhere and leaves the reader wondering just where it all went wrong. Quite a few of the group felt it became quite predictable towards the middle and the end too, which I have to agree with. As mentioned above it’s a great shame because there were so many opportunities for the story to gain momentum and really take off but for some reason these are never pursued.

Overall it was a disappointing read and most of the group felt like giving up partway through, which is always disappointing to hear. Not one for us I’m afraid.

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About the group

The Tees Valley Book Group meets at Stockton Central Library at 6.30pm on the first Tuesday of the month.

If you would like more information about what the group is reading, please visit www.newwritingnorth.com/submit/join-tees-valley-book-group.

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