The Boys in the Trees
By Mary Swan
(Holt Paperbacks, Paperback, 9780805086706, 224pp.)
Publication Date: January 22, 2008
List Price: $14.00*
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“This is a mesmerizing novel, that can truly claim to be filled with a ‘terrible beauty.’”—Alice Munro
Newly arrived to the countryside, William Heath, his wife, and two daughters appear the picture of a devoted family. But when accusations of embezzlement spur William to commit an unthinkable crime, those who witnessed this affectionate, attentive father go about his routine of work and family must reconcile action with character. A doctor who has cared for one daughter, encouraging her trust, examines the finer details of his brief interactions with William, searching for clues that might penetrate the mystery of his motivation. Meanwhile the other daughter’s teacher grapples with guilt over a moment when fate wove her into a succession of events that will haunt her dreams.
In beautifully crafted prose, Mary Swan examines the volatile collisions between our best intentions—how a passing stranger can leave an indelible mark on our lives even as the people we know most intimately become alienated by tides of self-preservation and regret. In her nuanced, evocative descriptions a locket contains immeasurable sorrow, trees provide sanctuary and refuge to lost souls, and grief clicks into place when a man cocks the cold steel barrel of a revolver. A supreme literary achievement, The Boys in the Trees offers a chilling story that swells with acutely observed emotion and humanity.
Mary Swan is the winner of the 2001 O. Henry Award for short fiction and is the author of the collection The Deep and Other Stories (Random House). Her work has appeared in several Canadian literary magazines, including The Malahat Review, the Ontario Review, and Best Canadian Stories, as well as American publications such as Harper's. She lives with her husband and daughter near Toronto.