In a Dark Wood
By Amanda Craig
(Anchor, Paperback, 9780385721172, 320pp.)
Publication Date: March 11, 2003
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Thirty-nine, recently divorced, jobless, Benedick Hunter is an actor heading in the exact opposite direction of happily ever after: everything from spending time with his own children to the prospect of dating brings him down. So when he comes across a children's book his mother Laura wrote, he decides that her life and work--haunting stories replete with sinister woods and wicked witches and brave girls who battle giants--hold the key to figuring out why his own life is such a mess.
Setting out to find out why Laura killed herself when he was six, Benedick travels from his native England to the U.S. in search of her friends and his own long-lost relatives. As he grows obsessed with Laura's books and their veiled references to reality Benedick enters into a dark wood–a dark wood that is both hilariously real and terrifyingly psychological. It is then that his story becomes an exploration not only of his mother's genius but also of the nature of depression, and of the healing power of storytelling in our lives.
Amanda Craig is the author of three novels, including A Vicious Circle, which is currently being developed for BBC television. In a Dark Wood is the first of her novels to be published in the United States. Craig, who writes regularly The Times, The Sunday Times, and The New Statesman, lives in London.
"[An] absorbing, often dreamlike story."--The New York Times
"Craig. . . . reconfigures archetypal characters and situations. . . . finding the hope and humanity in a frightening and confusing disease."--The Village Voice
"Amanda Craig’s In a Dark Wood is tantalizing, dark, mysterious and strange. Its deft insights cut sharply as it evokes the inside of mental illness with uncanny lucidity and humor.” –Andrew Solomon, author of The Noonday Demon
“In a Dark Wood explores the immensely complicated, often open borders between imagination and mental illness. Craig has written a profound account of darkness, and she has done it in a passionate, original, and beautiful way.” –Kay Redfield Jamison, author of An Unquiet Mind
"A sneakily beguiling book."--Salon
"Craig's wonderful page-turning storytelling will keep you up way past your time for bed."--The Times (London)
“In a sly blend of southern gothic and British wit, Craig weaves . . . a story that is both whimsical and unsettling.” –People
“In a Dark Wood is a first-rate story--both psychologically acute and mythologically convincing--and often very funny as well.” –Alison Lurie
“The notable strengths of her writing lay in her sardonic sense of humor and the ability to spin a comedy of adult manners around the serious predicament of children.”–The Times Literary Supplement
“Witty and disturbing. . . . A novel of both accomplishment and charm.” –The Daily Mail
“Just as the best fairy tales do, In a Dark Wood exposes rich depths of meaning through a relatively simple plot.” –The Winston-Salem Journal
“Clever, imaginative, and even darkly humorous, Craig's novel, like a book of beloved fairy tales, gives us a hero to root for and an inventive, multi-layered story.” –Booklist
“A complex, original, and often moving book, which also manages to be entertaining.”–The Mail on Sunday
“A dreamy, spellbinding novel. . . . Craig brings chilling suspense and dark humor to a stylized study of the loss of childhood innocence, the complexities of creativity and the correlation between artistic genius and mental health--all expertly cloaked in the symbols and metaphors of fairy tales.” –Publishers Weekly