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The Trees (The Awakening Land #1)

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  2,390 Ratings  ·  216 Reviews
Sayward Luckett, pioneer woman, and her family are daring invaders of the American primeval forest.

The Trees is the rich saga of their constant struggle with the wilderness - a moving story filled with constant perils, rough-tongued pioneer humor, tragedies and triumphs. It is the first novel of Conrad Richter's great trilogy, continued in The Fields and The Town, that chr
Mass Market Paperback, 199 pages
Published December 21st 1978 by Bantam Books (first published 1940)
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Jan 14, 2008 Minay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Favorite book(s) of all time. Beautifully written in poetic style using authentic dialog and well researched stories/attitudes/implements/activities of the time. Great record of westward progress, how it happened and the forces that drove it.This book stands alone, but is great with the other two books in the Awakening Land series. Get a personal view of progress from wilderness living to town living in the same location. Subtly raises questions about whether the europeans ruined the indians, wh ...more
When a man gets it into his head to move west, there's not much a body can do to stop him. Even if it means dragging the whole, dirt-poor family from Pennsylvania to Ohio through woods so deep one can't see the sky till the trees release their cargo come winter. Such a place belongs to the wild creatures who roam, not families with young 'uns. But from now on his dank, black, mossy world will be called home, and it doesn't do any one a lick of good to look behind.

The story begins abruptly and th
Dec 08, 2011 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A gritty, adult version of "Little House in the Big Woods". The Ingalls-Wilder books are
narrated from the innocence of childhood with the realities and horrors of frontier life kept at arm's length or out of sight altogether and the family proverb "all's well that ends well" a comforting
refrain. Not so of Richter's The Trees. Published in the early 40's, it's the story of the Luckett family who move from the sunny, relative safety of Pennsylvania to the deep woods of Northwest territory in searc
The Trees is easily one of my top five favorite books I've ever read. Richter was living in New Mexico when a neighbor gave him a 1600 page history (journals and stories) of the pioneers of the Ohio River Valley. He took his characters, the way they speak, their way of life, from actual living people. That is what made this book for me - every moment rang true. In the beginning, the Luckett family is making their way west from Pennsylvania because the husband/father, Worth, thinks Pennsylvania i ...more
Jul 01, 2011 Karen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is my all time favorite book. The story tells of a family's move to the Northwest Territory (Ohio) in the late eigthteenth century. Richter doesnn't romanticize the family or the tribulations they face. The mother dies of tuberculosis and the father, a hunter, abandons the family for long stretches of time. The responsibility of caring for the family falls to the oldest, a girl named Saywood.
This book, and the two that follow are about her life in the changing world she lives in. The Ohio
Feb 13, 2009 Sandy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: early-america
This is a really old book. It was written long before the 80's, which I think is the earliest edition this system showed me. I borrowed the hard cover from my aunt who had gotten it as part of the enormous collection of books which had come with her really old cottage in Gay Head. The book was already ancient when she bought the house, the woman who had previously owned the house having had it since early in the century when her family lived in it, the house, that is. Dorothy, I think she was ca ...more
Jul 10, 2014 Joyce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another review suggests this is "Little House on the Prairie" as retold by Cormac McCarthy. That's pretty apt!

I was mesmerized by this story of the earliest settlers to central Ohio's primeval forest, the Northwest Territories, around 1800. The 'woodsy' family, hunters, head into the deep forest when they see their game deserting Pennsylvania. The image of an ocean-sized swarm of squirrels running - not swinging - westward through the forest was apocalyptic.

The forest is so dense that they don
Sep 19, 2012 Alisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't even know whether I loved or hated this book. I started out loving it, in the middle I would've literally tossed it in the garbage except it was a 1950 early edition library book, then after skimming my way to the end I was grudgingly won back. This is a tale of early frontier days, when the Western frontier was still the densely-wooded Eastern forests. Sayward was a great protagonist... pragmatic, strong, and somehow optimistic in the face of a difficult life. I'm sure many cruelties to ...more
Extraordinary achievement that transports a reader into a world that once was, but is no longer...

Even more impressive, if rather challenging for the reader, Conrad Richter's fiction not only preserves the physical and social reality of a time and place now lost, but in the telling has also preserved lost aspects of language itself. The dialect and words Richter uses, while still generally comprehensible, seem richly "historic" to a modern American English ear.

In fact, I ardently wish an annot
Kevin Reilly
For better or for worse, The Trees is a very accurate portrayal of what life on the early American frontier must have been like. The book’s historical accuracy in respect to the linguistics of early American pioneers is astounding, but tested my patience thoroughly. It took me a while to realize that a “trencher” is a table, or that “butts” refers to tree trunks. The writing of Conrad Richter is, at times, undecipherable or even grammatically wrong; Take this sentence for instance: “It had black ...more
Aug 23, 2012 Larry rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
From a purely storyline point of view, this is not a particularly compelling fictional narrative. It's essentially about everyday life of a family in a small community. Yet, this story is about early American settlers shortly after the founding of the country. It is most definitely not a Walt Disney Daniel Boone-Davey Crockett type accounting of life back then. These settlers enter the real frontier much like we might imagine going into the deepest parts of the Amazon jungle in present day. Life ...more
Harold Titus
Apr 28, 2016 Harold Titus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Conrad Richter’s “The Trees” is the first of a series of three novels called “The Awakening Land.” The third novel, “The Town,” won the 1951 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Based on the quality I perceived in “The Trees,” I intend to read the entire series.

One reason I liked this novel so much is that Richter’s characters are so rich and diverse. This is especially true of the Luckett family members, the story’s central characters.

Worth Luckett is ill-suited for settlement life. He is a “woodsy,” a
Sep 05, 2016 Maryann rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Had to let this one go at the halfway mark. Richter can not keep a straight narrative. He shifts between third person, the thoughts of a character, and a journal of How to Survive in the Woods. Actually the bits about wilderness advice were the coolest parts. Did you know you can determine the quality of a fur by blowing on it to see how the hairs part?

The idea behind this trilogy (The Trees, The Field, and The Town) was appealing to me, as an admirer of the "pioneer spirit." I may flip through
Lisa (Harmonybites)
The Trees is the first book in the Awakening Land Trilogy. Richter received the Pulitzer Prize for The Town, the third book of the trilogy about American pioneers, but according to the short biography in the back, The Trees was the one he "felt was most alive." Maybe that's because it was about when the land was most alive. It's never stated when this is set, but the references to fifteen stars on the American flag puts it sometime early in the 1790s. It's mostly told through the point of view o ...more
Christopher MacMillan
The first instalment of Conrad Richter's The Awakening Land Trilogy, titled The Trees, comes across like Little House on the Prairie if written by Cormac McCarthy: it's a dark, devilish tale of what happens when the Luckett family, in the late 1700s, blazes their way through a sea of thick, sky-blackening trees, in America's uninhabited backwoods to settle as hermits in the Ohio Valley.

Though told through a variety of viewpoints, we are mainly shown the world via the eyes of the Luckett's eldest
Margaret Sankey
Sep 03, 2015 Margaret Sankey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set on the 18th century frontier of Ohio, this is a spare and unsentimental novel about the meeting and eventual marriage of a educated Eastern lawyer and the "woodsy" woman whose family follows the frontier rather than settle and "civilizes" it. Notable for very well-researched vocabulary differences--the lawyer speaks almost entirely in Latin and Greek-root words, while Sayward speaks in Anglo-Saxon rooted words, some literal translations like "bury hole" for grave.
Mar 24, 2015 Leslie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lovely, lovely book. Compelling, authentic, poetic. The language and the true dialect drew me in, but the characters kept me there. Richter shows respect for these people. He doesn't judge them and they don't judge each other. No time for that in the world these folks inhabit. This story of those that braved the wildness to settle America sheds light on the drudgery, the hope, the real daily life of those hardy souls.

So, read it for the language and the history. But here's what makes it 5 stars
Richter's writing brought to mind the rhythms and cadences of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings's The Yearling -- a pure reading of the time and state, without one glimmer of the revisionist's eye.

The novel enveloped me in the pioneering world of 1790, middle America, and I did not emerge until it rung its last stroke of the axe, as the clearings began to show face in the crowded landscape of trees. It felt to me a most accurate representation of what pioneering must have truly been like -- bugs, and li
Walt Barrett
Sep 06, 2012 Walt Barrett rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A strangely powerful book - hard to describe the strong impact it had on me. Written in what is effectively the dialect of the late 1700's on the Ohio frontier, it was sometimes a rather laborious read. Yet strangely satisfying. The vivid portrayal of the harsh and rugged life of a frontier family was intensely human and compelling. And somehow haunting. Upon competition I decided to immediately re-read it hoping to enter more deeply into the world and experience of this family, yet ultimately d ...more
A powerful and moving story of life at the end of the eighteenth century in the "Northwest Territory" which would soon become the state of Ohio. The only thing better than the story was how it was told. Conrad Richter wrote this book in 1940 and had books, manuscripts, diaries and a great deal of material which would allow him to write the book in the language and perspective of the time. This book gave me the feel that I shared a small part of the pioneering spirit and hardships that the charac ...more
Enjoyed this as a step back in time - imagine looking out over the landscape and seeing nothing but trees all the way to the horizon in all 4 directions. The family in this novel are "woodsies", they hunt for a living, and aren't interested in cutting down trees and starting farms. The main character, Sayward, is a sleeper. I think I read the entire book in anticipation for when she would step up and claim her place. And she does, eventually, very near the end, and begins a radical change to the ...more
May 11, 2010 Judith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first book of the "Awakening Land" trilogy. The story follows the Wheeler family as it leaves Pennsylvania for the northwest territory (northwestern Ohio in those days)... almost entirely forested land at that time. The reader immediately feels present and is swept into the emotional trials and physical demands as they build the cabin, hunt for food, make do with the most meager of provisions and amenities (almost none). The most engrossing of this type of story that I've ever read, and so w ...more
Sep 01, 2014 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An entertaining novel about life in the late eighteenth century wilderness, this story tells the tale of the Luckett family who leave Pennsylvania (because the game is disappearing) to move to the wilderness across the Ohio river. After the family crosses the Ohio, they are grasped by the view of trees everywhere; not a single cabin or settlement in sight. The Lucketts build a cabin and are the sole inhabitants of the vast forest. As the book progresses, people begin moving in and by the end of ...more
Mar 03, 2012 Roxanne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was written in 1940 - about the late 17th century pioneers developing a type of civilization from the wilderness they lived in and traveled through. I gave this 5 stars because it was actually hard to put down - and the sense of their lives was overwhelming. I will say that this book has to hit you at the right time. But wow - what a simple yet deep story touching on the inner lives of these transcendent people.
Chris Ellis
May 30, 2014 Chris Ellis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a lovely read this turned out to be!

Never has a book sent me to the dictionary as many times as this did. Published in 1940, I would venture to say that Richter used the language of the period he was writing about, which I would say ranges from maybe the 1790's to the 1820's.
So, straight off this is an adventure in language, as well as a tale of life, and hardships, of the early American frontier.

The book is well balanced, starting with the family we follow through the narrative - and here
Amy Edwards
May 08, 2014 Amy Edwards rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first read this series about ten years ago, I couldn't stop thinking about it for days, weeks even. This is the first of a really wonderful trilogy about a family that settles in Ohio as the frontier changes from thick forest (The Trees), to farms (The Fields), to small rural communities (The Town).

The Trees begins with the Luckett family trudging into the thick woods of Ohio in the 1700s, fleeing Pennsylvania because Worth, Jary's husband and the kids' father, decided that the game had g
Sep 09, 2014 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, biography
I have read and re-read these three books, and each time I find parts of Sayward that impress and amaze me. If one wants a perspective of the settlement of this country from a womans point of view without being a "bodice buster" this is the book for you. You will smell her fresh bread baking on the hearth as well as hear the "painters" in the woods. These three books will be vital to anyones book shelf.
Dec 16, 2014 Donna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is actually a re-read for me. I read this first part of The Awakening Land trilogy almost 40 years ago. It was impressive then and it does not disappoint now. I've made a side-line public librarian career out of recommending this book and its sequels to little ol' ladies from the mountains. I'm pretty proud of how many have told me they loved it. This novel is true Americana; don't miss it.
Deborah Paris
May 10, 2009 Deborah Paris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lost gem. I read the trilogy years ago, and it has stayed with me like a piece of my own personal history. Books about westward expansion have the potential to illuminate human experience both literally and metaphorically.I can only say that this trilogy let me touch a lost history, making me fell how tragic it is to have and lose important experience. I lived these books.
Feb 24, 2014 Dianne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an engrossing tale of a family living in the wilderness of the Alleghenies in the late 1800s. Father supports the family by trapping, but he loves to be away from the family hunting for game and is often absent. Mother is dying, worn out at age 37. The eldest daughter becomes the de facto head of the family, looking out for her brother and sisters as best she can. While the picture painted is pretty bleak, the writing is beautiful and gives such an intense picture of how life must have ...more
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Conrad Michael Richter (October 13, 1890 – October 30, 1968) was an American novelist whose lyrical work is concerned largely with life on the American frontier in various periods. His novel The Town (1950), the last story of his trilogy The Awakening Land about the Ohio frontier, won the 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.[1] His novel The Waters of Kronos won the 1961 National Book Award for Fictio ...more
More about Conrad Richter...

Other Books in the Series

The Awakening Land (3 books)
  • The Fields
  • The Town

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