Joelle Fraser


The Forest House

A Year's Journey Into the Landscape of Love, Loss, and Starting Over

Following divorce, Fraser resolves to stay in the small mountain town where her son's father lives, but it soon proves too claustrophobic. She finds relief a world away in a small house up a winding road tucked so far into the forest one forgets it is technically still in town. It's in this small and remote forest house, both buffered and enveloped by endless wilderness, where she slowly rebuilds.

The life she carves out for herself and son Dylan is harsh at times and lyrical at others. The physical landscape feeds her—with its trees and animals, firewood, barbed wire and rugged unforgiving demands—while her internal self brims over with favorite passages culled from beloved books…and also with immense guilt about pulling her son into the confusing and messy reality of divorce. Of course, it is complicated reflection, as our lives often are. No moment of reveling goes unpunished by self–reproach: how dare she be happy for the quiet afforded her when Dylan is with his dad. Is it okay to be happy? Shouldn't she be sadder?

And her past is not past at all. Her history and the history of her family are very much alive in her, and memories crop–up unbidden, providing hints of explanation, that both prop her up and damn her. It is when all these gremlins hound her that she turns to what is outside her door.

This is a literary gem for anyone who has navigated the treacherous waters of loss and rebuilt a life, for those who love an expanse of sky, and for those who carry books in their mind.