The Overstory

Richard Powers | Fiction, 2018

502 pages


The writing is exquisite. The range of characters is diverse and fascinating.  The story line is ambitious, engaging, powerful, and thought-provoking.  Except when it’s not (more on that later).

We meet nine (?) characters whose lives, in some way and at some time, are made richer and fuller by a tree.  We learn how a tree(s) has shown up in their childhood, and the impact that tree has on their adult lives.  Eventually, even though they enter a variety of lifestyles and careers, their relationships with trees cause each of them to become a “tree-hugging” activist, working against the destruction of trees, especially old growth trees in Oregon and the Northwest.  This is where their lives, and our story, intersect.  You will learn about trees, about people, about the sacredness of our planet, about passion and commitment, sorrow and confusion, love and longing.

As with many very long books, there comes a time when the book overwhelms.  I think Powers veered off the path in a long section called “The Crown” where we follow our character’s Iives after the zenith of their time together as activists.  I would have liked about 50 pages edited out around page 400.  But, of course, eventually Powers gets back on track for the evocative conclusion.

I found the writing in this epic novel so mesmerizing, for 90% of the book, I decided to keep it at four hearts.  Yes, definitely try this novel on for size.



4 responses on “The Overstory

  1. mary cary Crawford

    I have this book on my list. Your review moved it up to request now status.

    1. Andrea Sigetich Post author

      Two women in my club recommended this book independently. I may try something else by Powers.

  2. mary cary Crawford

    “This is not our world with trees in it. It’s a world of trees, where humans have just arrived.”
    p. 424

    Loved this book!

    1. Andrea Sigetich Post author

      I am glad you loved this! As you can see, I tried another Richard Powers, The Echo Maker, and liked it four hearts also!