The author broaches every kind of human valor, villainy and vulnerability: drug addiction, forbidden desires and laudable do-gooding, among others. He commands attention not through conservationist pieties but with the way his forest-killers and tree-loving zealots are equally off-kilter and contradiction-filled ... Christie’s description can be superb, whether he’s conjuring clear-cut devastation ... His look ahead to the late 2030s is gloomily wry ... Christie can be over-obvious in setting up his end-of-chapter cliffhangers or drawing human/arboreal parallels ... But there are plenty of visionary moments laced into his shape-shifting narrative.
...with the expert, deft hands of a seasoned carpenter, author Michael Christie carefully and methodically pieces together a story as intricate as the rings within a tree. The result is a deeply compelling novel of family and memory ...Christie creates a sense of poetic, organic symmetry through rich characters and evocative, almost tactile descriptions. Even if readers are sad to leave Jake’s storyline in order to get to know her family, they may become just as captivated by her grandmother, Willow, and the ancestors that come before her ... The structure provides a captivating spine for Greenwood, but what stands out most by the end is the way in which Christie has been able to evoke and give voice to the way the cumulative effect of time and memory weighs on us all in ways both uplifting and terrifying. Greenwood is a towering, profound novel about the things that endure even as the world seems to be moving on.
... even if you’re suffering from what you might call Literary Tree Fatigue, Christie’s novel is worth reading, in part because it’s a clever mash-up of genres that distinguishes itself from its literary cousins and earns its bulk ... broad messages aside, the heart of the novel is a winning and energetic chase story ... When do we choose self-preservation, and when do we choose survival in a broader sense? The question has never gone away, but Greenwood closes with the message that it’s increasingly urgent.
Much of the pleasure of the book derives from the manner in which questions are answered and mysteries resolved. For the most part, Christie doesn’t force conclusions or resolutions, instead allowing the novel’s plotting and powerful characterizations to do the work ... But the structure – and the uses to which Christie puts it – result in one apparently unanticipated consequence: the sections featuring Jake, which bookend the novel, are ultimately less satisfying than the sections set in the historical past. This may be due, in part, to personal taste ... his is a relatively minor issue in a book of such richness. Christie brings together the intimate and the sweeping, the human world and the natural, the past and the future in a novel that suggests such distinctions don’t – or shouldn’t – really exist.
... a sprawling affair that Christie manages to keep both congruent and ultimately illuminating by paying close, but not constricting, attention to legacies that characters often know nothing about ... Christie keeps these invisible strings just taut enough to keep the action logical, without sacrificing imagination.
With searing imagery and memorable characters, Christie’s soaring multigenerational saga moves backward and forward in time, with stops in between 2038 and 1908, spinning a tale of greed, betrayal, destruction, and endurance that never wanes, told through the voices of men and women caught up in economic and environmental struggles they can never escape.
Christie skillfully teases out the details in a page-turner of a saga that complements sylvan books such as Sometimes a Great Notion and The Overstory, one that closes with Jake’s realization that, tangled lineage and all, a family is less a tree than 'a collection of individuals pooling their resources through intertwined roots ... Beguilingly structured, elegantly written: eco-apocalyptic but with hope that somehow we’ll make it.
Christie’s rugged, riveting novel ...entwines a family’s rising and falling fortunes with Canada’s dwindling old-growth forests ... This superb family saga will satisfy fans of Richard Powers’s The Overstory while offering a convincing vision of potential ecological destruction.