Judith D Collins
North of Here
By: Laurel Saville
ISBN: 9781503951242 Publisher: Lake Union Publication Date: 3/1/2016 Format: Hardcover My Rating: 3 Stars
The sounds of unexpected tragedies—a roll of thunder, the crash of metal on metal—leave Miranda in shock amid the ruins of her broken family.
As she searches for new meaning in her life, Miranda finds quiet refuge with her family’s handyman, Dix, in his cabin in the dark forests of the Adirondack Mountains. Dix is kind, dependable, and good with an ax—the right man to help the sheltered Miranda heal—but ultimately, her sadness creates a void even Dix can’t fill.
When a man from her distant past turns up, the handsome idealist now known as Darius, he offers Miranda a chance to do meaningful work at The Source, a secluded property filled with his nature worshipers. Miranda feels this charismatic guru is the key to remaking her life, but her grief and desire for love also create an opportunity for his deception. And in her desperate quest to find herself after losing almost everything, Miranda and Dix could pay a higher price than they ever imagined.
A special thank you to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Laurel Saville delivers NORTH OF HERE, a complex saga, absorbing, and unpredictable tale of tragedy, loss, sadness, and a journey of despair to hope, set in the wooded mountains of the Adirondacks. Miranda, from a wealthy family-- wanted to get away from watching her mother fill her days with small and less meaningful tasks moving to her family’s Colonial in Connecticut where she had grown up to their log cabin in the mountains of the Adirondacks. Once in the mountains she did a variety of jobs from tutoring middle school kids to other odd jobs. She was searching for her path and purpose in life. Her brother (Scott) died in a car accident, earlier. Father dies a year later. A mother and daughter drowning in grief. Then another tragedy strikes. She meets Dix, the handyman, a kind man and one she began to admire. Marshall Dixon Macomb a solitary man. A good man. The gloom of winter outdoors matched the dark mood inside. From the cold to her own worry, sadness, and discomfort. Dix’s arrival and departure were the only break in the spell of her dazed mood. Dix first met Miranda when she was in high school and he was back home after college and a couple of years working for a land stewardship organization in Albany. To Dix, Miranda was a distant thing. She was from a different place. However, after her brother was killed and her father died, he noticed Miranda was more solemn—she seemed bruised. Then her mother started to decay, and Miranda become more fragile. He just fixed things, and then she needed help with the finances. Then another tragedy. A death, financial misdeeds. A mess. Life and death. Dix offered her help, a guest cabin. Comfort. She needed to heal. Next we meet some other characters. Darius (David) and Sally. He offers Miranda a chance to do meaningful work at The Source, a secluded property filled with his nature worshipers. Darius is an idealist, charismatic, and Miranda is drawn to him. Miranda was happy with Dix until she gets wrapped up with Darius. By this time Dix has fallen for Miranda and now she is under the control of Darius. Darius, a college drop-out, living in a compound with new age religions beliefs. We also meet Sally, a tough social worker, who wants to help Miranda and of course find love herself. Four flawed distinct characters: Darius, Dix, Sally, Miranda. With alternating chapters of Darius and Miranda, Darius and Sally. A baby. The father? Can life be salvaged? Healing or redemption? Without giving too much away, it is quite difficult to describe NORTH OF HERE. Rebirth? This is not a feel good book; however, deep, intense--nice writing, character-driven, and thought-provoking. More psychological, literary, and suspense; than thriller or mystery. I started listening to the audio, which I did not find very engaging; nor the narrator's performance. However, attained a reading copy from the publisher, which seemed to flow easier. A lot of emotional dysfunctional family dynamics, human emotions, broken dreams; characters which readers will not care for, and some they will root for—questioning their actions and motives. Why I did not personally, find this a particularly enjoyable read; it seemed to take too much energy and work. However, others may enjoy the exploration; slow-pace; personality study--grasping for a sense of purpose. It was definitely a mountain climb. My first book by the author, and look forward to reading more. This would make an ideal choice for book clubs with a wide range of perspectives.
About the Author
Laurel Saville is an award-winning author of numerous books, articles, essays, and short fiction. Her work has appeared in the LA Times Magazine, the Bark, NYTimes.com, and other publications. She holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and lives and writes near Seattle. She is also a corporate communications consultant and has taught and spoken at a variety of colleges and writing conferences. Her memoir, Unraveling Anne, won the memoir category of the 2011 Indie Book Awards and was a runner-up to the grand prize winner at the Hollywood Book Festival. Her first novel, Henry and Rachel, a fictionalized account of her great-grandparents’ lives, was a finalist for a Nancy Pearl Award from the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. Read More