cover image At the Edge of the Woods

At the Edge of the Woods

Kathryn Bromwich. Two Dollar Radio, $18.95 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-953387-31-8

In Bromwich’s subtle debut, set in an unspecified period with horse-drawn carriages, a middle-aged woman leaves everything behind to live in the woods. Laura Mantovani resides in a secluded cabin outside an Italian village, where she ekes out a quiet existence, translating and tutoring on behalf of the locals, and falling into a diffident romance with a dashing waiter named Vincenzo. Then, after Laura’s friend Héloïse unexpectedly visits, the reader learns Héloïse had helped Laura escape her domineering husband, Julien. After Héloïse departs, and with Vincenzo aloof, Laura becomes overwhelmed by her isolation. Increasingly dependent on laudanum and subject to strange, visionary fevers, she yields to a madness that opens her to the allure of the forest, “no longer beholden to the chains and responsibilities of man, but to the perfect harmony of the natural world, where everything has its place, and no rock or broken twig is without purpose.” Peril eventually arrives in the form of dangerous wolves and even more dangerous hunters, but the developments will come too late for many readers. It’s a slow burn, though it works as a fine portrait of a woman’s communion with an untamed wilderness. Agent: Matthew Turner, RCW Literary. (May)