At the Edge of the Woods | Kathryn Bromwich
220 pages | Two Dollar Radio | Hardcover | 6.6.23
Haunting, gorgeously descriptive, and spellbinding, At the Edge of the Woods is a magnificent and assured debut novel that delivers all the resonance and significance of an instant classic.
Laura lives alone in a cabin deep within the Italian Alps, making her living translating medical documents and tutoring the children of affluent locals. She spends her days climbing the mountains outside her door and exploring the woods, and when she must venture into the small, conservative town for supplies, she's met with curious stares and wariness. Laura begins seeing a bartender, who alerts her to the villagers' uncertainties. Then late one night there is a knock on the door, and on the other side stands someone from her past who has finally found her. In beguiling, lyrical prose, the mystery surrounding why Laura has absconded to this remote corner of the Alps comes into focus, while the villagers grow leery of the woman in the cabin and of her increasingly odd behavior. A few decide to take matters into their own hands, to free themselves from the malevolent forces of the strega who lives amongst them.
With its dexterity and appreciation for the natural world, its slow-burn tension and thematic considerations of illness, femininity and alienation, At the Edge of the Woods calls to mind the work of Richard Powers, Claire-Louise Bennett and Shirley Jackson, while revealing Kathryn Bromwich as a spectacular and singular talent.
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