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The Overstory



Richard Powers

This is a big book.  It is long.  It has a vast gallery of characters and spans centuries. But most importantly is big in ambition. The novel opens with introductions to a range of separate characters. There is a family of Iowan farmers who, over generations, tend a single giant chestnut growing in the middle of the treeless plains. There is a soldier in Vietnam whose life is saved when, falling with a twisted parachute, he lands in a Banyan tree. There is the daughter of a Chinese immigrant who inherits a jade ring with a delicately carved image of a mulberry tree.

The lives of these characters and others eventually converge as they join forces as eco-warriors to save the last virgin forests in the USA from commercial logging.

Throughout this sprawling novel the most important presence is really the trees themselves. The complex interconnected forest community exerts its influence over all the characters and over us as readers in this powerful ecological fable

Vintage paperback, £9.99.