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Our Lady of the Forest

2.99  ·  Rating details ·  3,202 Ratings  ·  390 Reviews
From David Guterson—bestselling author of Snow Falling on Cedars—comes this emotionally charged, provocative novel about what happens when a fifteen-year-old girl becomes an instrument of divine grace.

Ann Holmes is a fragile, pill-popping teenaged runaway who receives a visitation from the Virgin Mary one morning while picking mushrooms in the woods of North Fork, Washingt
Paperback, 336 pages
Published July 27th 2004 by Vintage (first published 2003)
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Saleh MoonWalker
Onvan : Our Lady Of The Forest - Nevisande : David Guterson - ISBN : 747568219 - ISBN13 : 9780747568216 - Dar 336 Safhe - Saal e Chap : 2003
Dec 22, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 08, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Deborah Coleen Black
This novel has made a deep impression on me. I am not particularly religious, 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 p ...more
Jun 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 06, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
There are reasons I'd like to give this a five-star review and reasons I'd like to give it a one-star review, so I've split the difference.

Here are the five-star bits:
--Guterson's use of language is rich & beautiful
--scene setting: I was _in_ the Pacific Northwest on every page. It drips with detail.
--character development: most characters live and breathe and are uniquely multi-dimensional
--background information on characters that ultimately acts as social & political commentary
Feb 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Oct 07, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
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
Stephen Gallup
Mar 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I usually adore David Guterson's work: the well-written, well-researched, sweeping stories of my beloved Pacific Northwest make my heart sing. But I skipped the last few chapters of this one. Maybe he was going to wrap things up in some truly profound way that would make the rest of the book instantly fall into place and I'd fall in love with it after all, but I highly doubt it. The essential elements of this book can be summed up in the cataloguing data on the copyright page: Mary, Blessed Virg ...more
Mar 05, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"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
Jan 29, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 04, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
Shelves: abandoned
Very disappointing and quickly abandoned. I have loved reading Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars and East of the Mountains, so this was a surprise for me. I had to read the blurb on the back to convince myself that I hadn't gotten him confused with someone else in picking up this book. I read enough to know I didn't want to read anymore, though.
May 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Aug 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 02, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
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
Feb 01, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
Oct 07, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
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...
Apr 21, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mildly interesting story but only Faulkner should write without punctuation.
Dec 22, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
How you can write a book about a sighting of the Virgin Mary and make so many references to sex in the same work is mind boggling. But Guterson did it.
Jun 10, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
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.
Apr 14, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: xx2011-challenge
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.
Sep 12, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Too dense, too slow, ultimately unsatisfying.
Albert Norton
Jul 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My usual pattern upon finishing a book worth reviewing is to let it simmer in my mind for a few days before embarking on the review. I find that my impressions after letting it settle are not the same as those when I reach “The End.”

I’m a fan of David Guterson, and I read him with attention to craftsmanship, because in many respects he writes with a style I’d like to emulate in my own works, and sometimes with similar choice of themes, as in Our Lady of the Forest. I rate this book highly, in th
Marilyn Shea
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The way this book was written made me know how far from being a writer I am. I liked how conversations had no quotation marks and yet you knew exactly who was talking. The descriptions of people and situations were humorous or sad but always perceptive. The characters and their inner thoughts and motivations were understandable but not cliched. The author allowed each person a degree of realistic ambiguity. No one was one dimensional. Even the descriptions of a crowd of people showed the wide ra ...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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