The Woman in the Trees

The Woman in the Trees

Book - 2004
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Often, the way a story is told is as important as the story itself. This is true of the most recent novel by Gerry William, The Woman in the Trees .

Set during the time of first contact, The Woman in the Trees takes place around what is now Vernon, BC. The novel moves effortlessly from myth to dream time to narrative real time. Spanning the historical period from 1780 to 1860, The Woman in the Trees addresses a time of massive upheaval for the Okanagan people (the syilx). The coming of the horse, relations with early Europeans, and the smallpox epidemic dramatically changed the lives of the syilx.

Using traditional oral storytelling techniques, Gerry William crafts a compelling story that weaves together First Nations and Western narrative traditions. The dominating presence of Coyote chronicles the dreams and poetry of Wolverine, Blue Dreams and Horse. Early settlers, ranchers and orchardists also tell their stories of arrival.

Part historical novel, part myth for our times, The Woman in the Trees will inspire and ultimately satisfy. For as the narrator says, "there are fifty ways to tell the beginning of everything, but there is only one ending."

Publisher: Vancouver : New Star Books, 2004
ISBN: 9781554200139
Branch Call Number: FIC WIL
Characteristics: 226 p. ; 22 cm


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May 02, 2015

A seamless weaving of fact, fiction and myth provides insight into “first contact” from a First Nations perspective

The Woman in the Trees by Gerry William is a revelation in that it provides an insight as to how it might have been for the Okanagan First Nations people trying to cope with the influx of Europeans.

It not only details the lifestyle and way of thinking of the Okanagans before the white man, but illustrates how the invasion of Europeans changed their way of life, their own relationships and, for some, their world view.

It begins with first contact through three generations weaving fact, fiction and myth as told from the point of view of several characters but most of them First Nations. It doesn’t lay blame, but rather unfolds more as a historical document and lets the reader decide.

The Woman in the Trees is a story of human relations, family, friends – of loyalty, betrayal and trust. The characters are imbued with humanity, wisdom, humility, courage and spirituality. It’s a story of change, of inevitability, and loss.

William’s writing is flawless, crisp and straight forward. The narrative flows naturally even as it interspersed with myth, legend and spiritualism.

One gets the sense the author, a First Nations person himself, was told these stories by his elders and they have been passed down from generation to generation and will continue to be.

As one of William’s characters, Wolverine says, “Stories don’t end. They go on and on. Everything you do leads to something else.”

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