Group Read: Barkskins by Annie Proulx

Converses75 Books Challenge for 2018

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Group Read: Barkskins by Annie Proulx

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1FAMeulstee
gen. 30, 2018, 7:50am

Last year some of us agreed to read Barkskins together in February 2018.



I bought my copy, in Dutch translation, last November after spotting it on Megan's thread (Ireadthereforiam).

2Chatterbox
gen. 30, 2018, 4:13pm

Starring this -- and thanks for the reminder, Anita!!

3LovingLit
gen. 31, 2018, 1:39am

It has been gathering dust on my bedside table (the place for books that wish to move from 'WL' to 'read' status) since my birthday last year...in September!
I will be getting started in a week or so.

4Berly
feb. 1, 2018, 3:50pm

Trying to get to this as fast as I can!! Thanks for posting the thread. : ) Starred.

5arubabookwoman
feb. 1, 2018, 5:27pm

I'll be starting Barkskins today or tomorrow. I'll probably read a set number of pages per day and take all or most of the month to finish it, rather than taking it on all in one go. Looking forward to everyone's comments.

6FAMeulstee
feb. 1, 2018, 5:35pm

Welcome all :-)

I will probably start Schorshuiden (the Dutch title) near the end of next week and read it in 3 or 4 days. I prefer reading on until the end in the shortest possible time. When a book grabs me, I tend to skip all housekeeping tasks for a few days to keep on reading ;-)
I only manage to take poetry and some non-fiction in small parts.

7annushka
feb. 1, 2018, 8:27pm

I started Barkskins as audio book - enjoying it a lot so far. Looking forward to discussing it with everyone.

8FAMeulstee
feb. 2, 2018, 12:34pm

>7 annushka: Welcome, glad you are joining us.

9annushka
feb. 2, 2018, 8:38pm

>8 FAMeulstee: Thank you!

10FAMeulstee
feb. 5, 2018, 9:47am

Today I started reading Barkskins and after only 2 chapters I am completely drawn into the story. All I want to do is read on :-)

11arubabookwoman
feb. 5, 2018, 7:40pm

I am at the 2nd chapter of Part II. It is quite engaging.

12msf59
feb. 5, 2018, 7:44pm

Thanks for setting this up, Anita. A perfect excuse, to finally get to this one, which is surprising, since I am a big fan of Proulx. I have it in print and on audio.

I hope to start it next week.

13FAMeulstee
feb. 6, 2018, 8:05am

>11 arubabookwoman: Completely agree, Deborah.

>12 msf59: You are very welcome, Mark. For me it is my first Proulx.

I think the English edition contains a family tree, at the end of the book, that sadly is absent in the Dutch edition.
Could one of you send me a scan or photo of the page(s) with the family tree?

14FAMeulstee
feb. 7, 2018, 2:13pm

I finished Barkskins today, it was a great read :-)
My question above still stands: Could one of you send me a scan or photo of the page(s) with the family tree?, as it is missing in the Dutch edition.

My review will follow later, probably tomorrow.
My rating:

15FAMeulstee
feb. 8, 2018, 4:53am

  Schorshuiden (Barkskins) by Annie Proulx, 795 pages

Epic historical fiction, starting at the end of the 17th century and ending present day.
Two Frenchmen arrive in the New World in 1693, they become woodcutters. René Sel marries a Mi'kmaw woman and his descendant live a harsh life, torn between western and indigenous lifestyles. Charles Duquet, who changes his last name into Duke, is the founder of a big logging company, that ruthlessly clears the woods where ever possible.

Very good read. Following the two families through over three centuries, the one shows the decline of the Mi'kmaw tribe and their way of life. The other shows us how far some will go for profit.
Considering the subject of forest conservation, I should have bought the e-book, as for my paper copy trees died...

16LovingLit
feb. 12, 2018, 2:12pm

I have started! I put in a mammoth effort in the weekend, and read the first 150 pages, all to do with New France in the late 1600s.
Wow.
Loving it so far. Even if the first man's story was slightly more gripping that the second.

17LovingLit
feb. 12, 2018, 2:13pm

>14 FAMeulstee: I can do that tomorrow (when I am at university) so if no one has by then, I will do it for you :)

18LovingLit
feb. 13, 2018, 3:40am

I love that I didn't know what this story was about, or even if it was fiction, when I stated reading it. I purposefully did not read the back either, as love letting the work speak for itself.

Just thought I'd note that :)

19LovingLit
Editat: feb. 13, 2018, 8:50pm

Family Trees

20FAMeulstee
feb. 14, 2018, 6:21am

Glad you started reading, Megan, and that you are well into the story.
I always want to know what I am going to read, so I do read the back of the book and some reviews first. If I read a very tense story, I even read the last pages first. It relaxes me to know the ending.

>19 LovingLit: THANK YOU!!!

21msf59
feb. 14, 2018, 7:27pm



-Blackpoll Warbler, (which Proulx describes below)

"Violet maples flare against the black spruce. Rivers of birds on their great autumnal journeys filled the skies- Hudsonian godwits, whole nations of hawks, countless black warblers- paruline rayee- looking like tiny men with their black berets, chalky faces and dark mustache streaks, cranes, longspurs, goldeneyes, loons, sparrows, flycatchers, warblers and geese."

-Barkskins

^I am 70 pages in and quite enjoying it in the early going. I did not realize the epic story started in the 17th century.

22msf59
feb. 14, 2018, 7:28pm

>15 FAMeulstee: Glad you loved the book, Anita. I have a long way to go but I like it so far.

23LovingLit
feb. 15, 2018, 2:49am

>20 FAMeulstee: that is so funny! Reading the end first so that you can relax into the reading...hang on, that sounds like something I would do!

Here is a link to an article about Kauri dieback- a disease that is killing NZ's Kauri trees. In case you're interested!

Also- YAY! Mark has joined the party :)

24FAMeulstee
feb. 15, 2018, 4:22pm

>21 msf59: Thanks for the picture of the Blackpoll Warbler, Mark.
I tought of looking for a picture when I read the book, but forgot to do it.

>23 LovingLit: Thanks, Megan, I don't always read the last part first. But sometimes it makes reading a book less thrilling. You might understand now that I don't mind spoilers.

And thanks for the link about the disease that is threathning the Kauri. It is sad, as they are very special trees. After reading The hidden life of trees last year I even care more for trees in general.

25LovingLit
Editat: feb. 19, 2018, 8:49pm

I am finally in the NZ chapter- cos, as a local I am always interested in reading about something familiar. I took a few days off Barkskins to read Primo Levi's If This is a Man, but that can take its toll too, so I dipped back in to Barkskins. And gladly too- it is a captivating saga.

26msf59
Editat: feb. 28, 2018, 8:49am

Barkskins by Annie Proulx 3.8 stars

“...the newcomers did not care to understand the strange new country beyond taking whatever turned a profit. They knew only what they knew. The forest was there for them.”

Annie Proulx had not released a novel, since The Shipping News. That was 14 years ago! Well, she delivers quite a chunkster here: A 700 page, multigenerational family saga, that focuses on two Frenchman and their descendants, spanning three hundred years. It mostly deals with the timber trade and begins in the deep wilderness of Canada and radiates from there and it even touches down in New Zealand and China.
This book takes some patience, but the author's passion and knowledge of the subject, keeps the reader turning pages. There is also a strong environmental theme, running throughout, as we witness the plunder of our forests and other natural resources. This epic novel may not have hit the highs it intended but it is still a good and worthy read.

*Thanks again for setting up this Group Read, Anita. I am glad I finally got to this one.


27FAMeulstee
feb. 28, 2018, 11:58am

>26 msf59: Glad to read you enjoyed Barkskins, Mark.

It is a pleasure to host this thread, I wanted to read the book and was happy some would join me :-)

28LovingLit
març 1, 2018, 4:08am

I have dipped back in to If This is a Man and The Truce, finished it, and am now immersed in the final 20% of Barkskins (I figured that out by looking at where my bookmark is, not because I read on an electronic device!!)
I was just saying on Ellen's thread, that even though I agree with the sentiment of Proulx's work, I feel like there is a little bit (just a tiny bit) of preaching in-between the lines. I wonder if the subtle preaching (can there be such a thing!!?) works to enlighten the unenlightened just as much as I wonder if preaching to the converted is a worthy pastime! In any case, I am reading on, and trying less hard to keep track of who is who, just letting the story read easy for me.

29FAMeulstee
març 1, 2018, 4:47am

>28 LovingLit: Yes there is, Megan. I think the decline of forests is a subject that is close to her heart, so it is unavoidable it shines through. Probably it is preaching to the choir, I don't think anyone who needs to be enlightened would read this book

30arubabookwoman
març 1, 2018, 4:54pm

I got waylaid this month, and did not get very far into Barkskins (about 150 pp). I will continue with it into March.

31FAMeulstee
març 1, 2018, 6:30pm

I didn't set at date to finish, Deborah.
When you manage to finish Barkskins, the thread will still be here to share your thoughts ;-)

32Kristelh
març 1, 2018, 9:06pm

I read and finished Barkskins in February. I thought it was a great book.

33FAMeulstee
març 2, 2018, 5:07am

>32 Kristelh: Thank you, Kristel, I thought the same.

34Kristelh
març 2, 2018, 3:29pm

I enjoyed the book very much but it also reminded me of World's End by T. C. Boyle. "This multi-generational novel ranges over the history of the Hudson River Valley from the late seventeenth cenutry to the late 1960s with low humor, high seriousness, and magical, almost hallucinatory prose. It follows the interwoven destinies of families of Indians, lordy Dutch patrons, and yoemen."