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Our Lady of the Forest

2.98 of 5 stars 2.98  ·  rating details  ·  2,796 ratings  ·  342 reviews
From the best-selling author of Snow Falling on Cedars--an emotionally charged, provocative new novel about a teenage girl who claims to see the Virgin Mary.
Ann Holmes seems an unlikely candidate for revelation. A sixteen-year-old runaway, she is an itinerant mushroom picker who lives in a tent. But on a November afternoon, in the foggy woods of North Fork, Washington, th
Audio CD, 0 pages
Published September 30th 2003 by Random House Audio (first published 2003)
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While reading it, I was compelled to finish, as the author is a good story teller. However, I always was slightly annoyed, and this is probably why - the main character is a two dimensional waif. she is repeatedly noted as virginal yet sexually alluring (and it always went something like this - "her pale skin shone with fever, and it looked like she was about to die. but damn the priest really wanted to fuck her") and starts bleeding the day she has visions of the holy mother. oh yeah, the curs ...more
So, I know this will make me sound like an idiot, but I hate when writers don't use quotation marks for dialogue when it's a fiction novel told in the third person. Especially when the books are mediocre. So not only am I having to stop to think a bit when reading, I'm having to stop to think for a not good book. Which is lame. I mean, if it's a good book, fine, but get over the pretentiousness of not using quotation marks. Or just eliminate punctuation all together.

I also felt like I read way
This novel has made a deep impression on me. I am an atheist, but surprised myself by being deeply moved by the religiosity of the mushroom-picking teenage runaway, Ann Holmes, who experiences the Marian visions. The flawed, but very human, not to say humane priest, Father Collins, also attracted my sympathy. The rather cynical and educated societal dropout, Carolyn Greer, acts as an effective foil to the visionary and also manages to inject some dark humour into the novel; her protectiveness to ...more
This is a dark book indeed but I thought it was a worthwhile read. ALL of the characters are pathetic creatures but I suppose it is said God uses the most unlikeliest people. Man, they don't come more unlikely. Even the priest gave me the creeps. Everytime I read a chapter, I felt covered in mildew it was so damp all the time. I really liked how it delivered a message of redemption with no real definitive conclusion why things happened the way they did. It relies on the readers own belief or lac ...more
I made it to disc 5 (of 10) in this and had to stop listening/reading. I couldn't do it. What is it about postmodern writings that everyone has to be hella depressing and have terribly uncomfortable and pessimistic sex with everyone? I don't get that. Plots can go along just fine without it. I promise.
So I actually didn't realize much of what this was about when I picked it up because sometimes I just grab something for a long car trip. I've actually gotten some surprising winners that way, but
Mar 06, 2008 Janeen rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who are interested in religion and strong characterization novels.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Stephen Gallup
This story revolves around a character who is a vital presence at the outset, with disturbing memories, and then, as she is seen more and more from the perspective of others, gradually becomes objectified. Ann is an adolescent runaway with a domestic situation behind her that would inspire just about anyone to flee. She now has no home other than a sagging tent pitched at a campground outside a down-at-the-heels logging town in Washington, and one day when foraging for mushrooms she sees the Vir ...more
Not my review but this sums it up: Guterson explores larger social themes-the demise of blue-collar America; the ironic symbiosis of religious devotion and commercial exploitation; the replacement of faith in God by faith in psychopharmacology; and the link between the exaltation of women's saintliness and the reality of women's degradation. Searching for the miraculous in the mundane, this ambitious and satisfying work builds vivid characters and trenchant storytelling into a serious and compas ...more
"No atheist, Carolyn thought, is ever firm." What does one do when presented with spiritual insight, revelation, and direct contact with deity. This book depicts the events surrounding a fictional Marian siting in northern Oregon by a troubled young girl with a tumultuous past. I was interested in how this writer would portray a modern visionary or someone who believes to have received revelation from God, or in this case Mary, the mother of Jesus. Although thought provoking, this book was diffi ...more
This book was wonderful! I didn't want it to end and towards the end I started wondering, how is he going to bring this to an end in a credible, satisfying manner? It seemed impossible. But he did it! And once you read the end, it's like it had to end the way it ended, that's what would happen, as crazy as it all was. And the author never took away the mystery, he left almost everything unanswered and it felt right. I have to read the other books by this author!
David Guterson has obviously done his homework in depicting this appearance of the Virgin to a bedraggled, asthmatic teen-age mushroom gatherer in a soggy northwest rain forest. There have been numerous purporrted sightings of the Virgin throughout history, the two most famous ones occurring at Lourdes in France and at Fatima in Portugal. What North Fork, a depressed lumber town in the Pacific Northwest near where the sightings take place, has in common with the other sites is that they are all ...more
Don Westenhaver
My wife and I had read and enjoyed another of Guterson's novels, Snow Falling on Cedars, and the premise of Our Lady of the Forest seemed intriguing. We rented the audio version for a long car trip. Midway through the novel, we began to lose interest in both the characters and the plot. We had some empathy with the heroine, Ann Holmes, and the priest, Father Collins, but the other characters were so selfish it was hard to be concerned what happened to them.
The dialog is more "choppy" than any b
On the jacket someone calls Guterson "a latter-day Dostoevsky" and I thought, "ah, come on". Well, my mistake... this is an apt description. I never liked a single character of Crime and Punishment - and readers will be challenged to find a likeable character here either - but in a good way in my opinion. The comparison doesn't end there - delving into spiritual matters. Fast paced for me - 309 pages cover just a few days. I remember thinking "I’ve gotta keep reading. I've got to get to 9pm toni ...more
Compared to Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars, this was a disappointment.
That book had a historical setting, #1, which gave a more natural reason to explore ripples of trauma and consequences in the lives of the characters.

In this story, it struck me that Guterson just needed a storyline from which he could rage at the Catholic church for its patriarchal perspective, the whole circus around Mary sightings, and the always good for a cynical laugh, the priest with many doubts and secret sinful ten
Tony J
I picked this book up at a garage sale because of the cover, and didn't really know what to expect. I discovered (after the fact) that it was written by David Guterson, author of 'Snow Falling on Cedars', which I really enjoyed. The story revolves around a 4-day period during which a young runaway named Ann begins to see the image of the Virgin Mary, while out picking mushrooms. All of this takes place in a failing logging town, where many are down on their luck, and Ann's visions give them a re ...more
I took a strong dislike to this author from the time that he describes Ann's rapist near the beginning of the book. I also didn't like the way he wields his substantial intellectual prowess and his observational acuity. He uses these things like weapons to mock those upon whom his characters must be based. I felt a supercilious attitude coming through his words. Nevertheless, the book is creepy, atmospheric and gripping. He does nail his characters, time and place. Ann herself, never mind illnes ...more
Olga Hernandez
How many hours of my life are now forever gone and wasted reading this book? So much potential--that it makes the lack of substance in this book all the more stark. I thought I would find a delicious contrast of supernatural/divinity vs mental illness vs social dynamics. But, no. Character development was limited to ...hypersexuality and vacuous existence. I kept hoping for redemption and it never came. Doesn't even win a spot in our library--off you go back to where you belong--the Goodwill sta ...more
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Kathleen Hagen
Our Lady of the Forest, by David Guterson, Narrated by Blair Brown, Produced by Random House Audio, downloaded from

As is usual for Guterson, this is an enthralling story. Publisher’s note states the case as well as I could.
“Ann Holmes seems an unlikely candidate for revelation. A sixteen-year-old runaway, she is an itinerant mushroom picker who lives in a tent. But on a November
afternoon, in the foggy woods of North Fork, Washington, the Virgin Mary comes to her, clear as day. Fathe
The atmosphere of this book is cold, damp and ghostly. The Pacific Northwest is captured very well. No, the author does not use speech quotation marks. It gives readers the feeling of being underwater, or trapped inside a collective subconscious zone of the various characters.

Provided a cynical view of saints, visionaries and martyrs.

Author provided thought-provoking juxtaposition between a young female's intense vulnerability suddenly transformed into immense power and influence.
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Beth Withers
I was intrigued by this book because of the subject matter. I lived in Conyers and indeed even knew the lady who saw the Virgin Mary back in the 1990s. I wanted to see what this author's take on it was. This novel is about so much more than a young girl who has visions, however. It's mostly the story of an economically depressed town and some of the people who live there, who are trying to do what they can in a bad situation. When Ann sees her visions, it's interesting to see how people react, b ...more
Amy Arsenault
Sometimes I'm surprised by how high or low a book is rated on here compared to what I had expected. I liked this book. I wound up sticking with it and finishing in just a few days. I felt like there was not much of a plot but that this was more of a character study and those are some of my favorite novels. Maybe this is why I seemed to like it more than most people on here. The characters felt realistic, the dialogue was realistic. It was just all written in ways and with small details in descri ...more
I didn't love this book. I don't know why though. It is so exactly the type of story I love. The characters are great, real and flawed and the story flows like one would believe a story like this would go. I never say this, but I think this actually might make a better movie than a book...
Mildly interesting story but only Faulkner should write without punctuation.
It had some good moments, but they were sandwiched between horrible ones. If it wasn't a book for my book club I probably would have given up on it.
A dismal book about unpleasant, boring people leading pointless lives in a wet, cold place. I absolutely loved David Guterson's other books so this was a huge disappointment.
Immediately upon picking this up i groaned with disgust seeing it was by the same person who wrote snow falling on cedars. That was one of very few books I could even finish it was so terrible. I would have chucked this and selected another but it was the last book I had brought on vacation to a foreign country so reading another wasn't an option. My initial reaction was not far off. This wasn't good. I did finish it, but parts of it served more as a sleep aid than literature.
It did teach me tw
Christian Riley
Not many writers can do what Cormac McCarthy does so well, with regards to producing a piece of written work while excluding traditional rules of grammar, and punctuation. Unfortunately, Guterson failed at this endeavor with LADY OF THE FOREST. I was consistently thrown out of the story with the author's choice of writing style, and it became challenging, even irritating to continue reading. Sadly, I gave up around pg. 100, (and it is sad, because he's an excellent writer). Poor choice of style ...more
Very good, but a rather painful, even depressing read for those who want happy outcomes or faith in miracles. The story is about Catholic religious fervor, cynicism, greed, abuse, ignorance and skeptical faith. We are given brief but convincing views of several very different characters brought together for only a short time period. It is set in winter, in a small financially distressed Pacific Northwest town populated by out of work loggers, and the mood goes downhill from there :-) However is ...more
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David Guterson is an American novelist, short story writer, poet, journalist, and essayist.

He is best known as the author of the novel Snow Falling on Cedars (1994), which won the 1995 PEN/Faulkner Award. To date it has sold nearly four million copies. It was adapted for a 1999 film of the same title, directed by Scott Hicks and starring Ethan Hawke. The film received an Academy Award nomination f
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