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From the Forest

A Search for the Hidden Roots of our Fairytales

List Price: $17.95

October 8, 2013 | Paperback | 6 x 9, 368 Pages | ISBN 9781619021914

“A brilliant exploration of something that right at the start is impossible to define precisely . . . And I can hardly wait to see what comes next from this marvelous writer, thinker and seeker." —New York Times Book Review

Fairy tales are one of our earliest cultural forms, and forests one of our most ancient landscapes. Both evoke similar sensations: At times they are beautiful and magical, at others spooky and sometimes horrifying. Maitland argues that the terrain of these fairy tales are intimately connected to the mysterious secrets and silences, gifts and perils.

With each chapter focusing on a different story and a different forest visit, Maitland offers a complex history of forests and how they shape the themes of fairy tales we know best. She offers a unique analysis of famous stories including Rapunzel, Hansel and Gretal, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Rumplestiltskin, and Sleeping Beauty. Maitland uses fairy tales to explore how nature itself informs our imagination, and she guides the reader on a series of walks through northern Europe’s best forests to explore both the ecological history of forests and the roots of fairy tales. In addition to the twelve modern re-tellings of these traditional fairy tales, she includes beautiful landscape photographs taken by her son as he joined her on these long walks.

Beautifully written and impeccably researched, Maitland has infused new life into tales we’ve always thought we’ve known.

SARA MAITLAND grew up in London and South West Scotland. Maitland is the author of several books including the Counterpoint title Book of Silence, and Daughter of Jerusalem, winner of the Somerset Maugham Award in 1978. She studied English at Oxford University. She currently lives in Newton Stewart, UK.


“A brilliant exploration of something that right at the start is impossible to define precisely… And I can hardly wait to see what comes next from this marvelous writer, thinker and seeker. I only hope it isn’t… silence.” —New York Times Book Review

“A strikingly refreshing book to read, in the midst of the clamor and din, ever-mounting distraction, yelling TV pundits, solipsistic tweet-ing, and flash-card sentiment of our Internet age. Maitland rails against the idea of silence as void, absence, and lack—something that we must rush to fill—insisting it is positive and nurturing, and something more profound that must be actively sought.” —Newsweek

“In this lovely, inventive book, Maitland pursues the psychic juncture between forests and fairy tales…the author’s research is diligent, her analytical skills sharp, and her prose lean and compelling…The argument she makes for a connection between the woods and the fairy tale is a convincing one and so finely constructed that this odd marriage between fiction and essay proves successful and thought-provoking.” —Publishers Weekly

“As Maitland seeks to both lose and find herself in silence, she articulates a remarkably graceful and penetrating response to that mysterious and essential force.” —Booklist Starred Review

“A timely and alluring exploration of the pleasures and powers of silence; Maitland writes with the serenity of one who has just returned from a place where I would very much like to go.” —Tim Parks, author of A Season with Verona

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