"The best novel ever written about trees, and really just one of the best novels, period." ―Ann Patchett
"The Overstory" is a stunning piece of literature that is a triumph to nature. It is filled with passion in its language of activism and resistance. The structure of the novel resembles that of a tree, spanning from the roots to the crown. The novel is set in concentric rings of interlocking fables. These fables range from antebellum New York to the late 20th century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest. It speaks the language of trees, the slow, vast, interconnected, inventive, and resourceful world of trees that lives alongside humans.
Their world is almost invisible to the naked eye.
Nonetheless, Richard Powers is an engaging storyteller who explores the deep history and beyond of these integral pieces of nature. Beyond the natural themes, this novel also explores the stories of humankind and how a handful of people learn to see the world and are drawn up into its unfolding devastation.
This novel reminded me of "Cloud Atlas" by David Mitchell in its structure of a narrative that moves through time and stories. Both novels intertwine the different parts to create a journey that circles back to the beginning. In the case of "The Overstory" the seeds that created it all. You might be familiar with "Cloud Atlas" because of the movie that stars actors such as Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, and Hugh Grant.
Although similar in structure, "The Overstory" is completely unlike anything I've ever read.
It contains a quiet power in its telling of stories that are hardly ever listened to -- that of trees. Although the trees in this novel aren't the Ents in J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth, there is still the same feeling of being left in awe of how mythical they are. I highly recommend reading this novel. It is transformative and will leave you having a new respect for the natural world.