Damnation spring A novel

Ash Davidson

Book - 2021

A mother and midwife inadvertently threatens the fortunes and livelihoods of her family and their neighbors after noticing an increase in local miscarriages and believes it's caused by the pesticides used by the Sanderson Timber Company, her husband's employer.

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Subjects
Genres
Ecofiction
Novels
Published
New York : Scribner 2021.
Edition
First Scribner hardcover edition
Language
English
Physical Description
445 pages ; 24 cm
ISBN
9781982144401
1982144408
Main Author
Ash Davidson (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

The giant redwood was named the 24-7 about 100 years ago, when it was 24 feet, 7 inches wide. By 1977, it was more than 30 feet wide. For Rich Gundersen, the 24-7 and the ridge of unfelled forest it inhabits represent generations of dreams, and when he gets the chance to buy it, he takes it. He doesn't immediately tell his wife, Colleen, younger by 19 years and suffering after the latest in a series of miscarriages. But mysterious skulls, illnesses, mudslides, and threats soon endanger his plans. The couple and their one child, a five-year-old boy, are surrounded by a close-knit timber community, including Colleen's sister and her brood of six kids, an old friend who leaves his property with a drive-through redwood tree about once a decade but still knows all the goings-on about town, and Daniel, Colleen's Yurok ex-boyfriend, who comes back into the picture. Their struggles and heartbreaks play out on the richly rendered backdrop of a community on the brink of major change. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In a 1970s Pacific Northwest community, women suffer multiple miscarriages and salmon quit leaping from the creeks. Logger Rich Gundersen's wife suspects the timber company's herbicides, and her suspicions tear the town apart. A debut author with a 125,000-copy first printing. Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In a 1970s Pacific Northwest community, women suffer multiple miscarriages and salmon quit leaping from the creeks. Logger Rich Gundersen's wife suspects the timber company's herbicides, and her suspicions tear the town apart. A debut author with a 125,000-copy first printing. Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

DEBUT Opening in summer 1977, Davidson's powerful debut novel about California logging families slowly uncovers the dirty secrets of the Sanderson Timber Company. Everyone's livelihood depends on Sanderson, so no one is talking about how they harvest Damnation Grove: spraying with herbicides similar to Agent Orange, working loggers to exhaustion and injury, and using force to eliminate anyone who speaks out against their practices. Fourth-generation logger Rich Gundersen is worn down from his injuries, while his wife, Colleen, a midwife, regularly witnesses miscarriages and the birth of malformed babies. Daniel Bywater, a Yurok fish biologist whose tribe has fished the area's creeks for centuries, arrives to study the suspect water quality and declining fish population. His presence, along with the protesters blocking roads and sabotaging machinery, stirs up unspeakable violence. Rich sees a way out, by purchasing an old-growth redwood stand whose million-dollar timber harvest should set up his family for life, but he doesn't count on family betrayal and the ruthlessness of timber company executives, the worst traitors of all. VERDICT Davidson's riveting page-turner reveals one harsh reality after another, with no happy ending. The stakes are high, loyalty vanishes, and family ties mean nothing. A strong writer to watch.—Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Grand Junction, CO Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Davidson's impressive debut chronicles life in a working-class community so thoroughly that the reader feels the characters' anguish as they're divided over environmental concerns that threaten their lives and livelihoods. The tale unfolds between 1977 and 1978 and follows the Gundersen family: husband and wife Rich and Colleen; and their kindergartner son, Chub. Rich is a fourth-generation logger who dreams of a less financially burdensome future for his family when, without telling Colleen, he plunks down their savings to buy a ridge near their home in Northern California with a harvestable forest of primordial redwoods. Meanwhile Colleen—who has suffered eight miscarriages before and after Chub's birth and who, as the local midwife, has witnessed a disturbing number of defective births—is listening to an environmentalist friend's warning that the defoliants used by the timber company that employs Rich are leaching lethal toxins into the local water supply. Davidson mirrors the tension between Rich and Colleen with empathetic descriptions of the struggles of their neighbors, many of whom cling desperately to their jobs in the face of mounting evidence that their duplicitous employer is poisoning them. The depiction of ordinary people trapped by circumstances beyond their control makes for a heart-wrenching modern American tragedy. Agent: Chris Parris-Lamb, the Gernert Co. (Aug.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A mother and midwife inadvertently threatens the fortunes and livelihoods of her family and their neighbors after noticing an increase in local miscarriages and believes it's caused by the pesticides used by the Sanderson Timber Company, her husband's employer.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

A mother and midwife inadvertently threatens the fortunes and livelihoods of her family and their neighbors after noticing an increase in local miscarriages and believes it’s caused by the pesticides used by the Sanderson Timber Company. 125, 000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

NATIONAL BESTSELLERNamed a Best Book of 2021 by Newsweek, the San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times“A glorious book—an assured novel that’s gorgeously told.” —The New York Times Book Review“An incredibly moving epic about an unforgettable family.” —CBS Sunday Morning“[An] absorbing novel…I felt both grateful to have known these people and bereft at the prospect of leaving them behind.” —The Washington PostA stunning novel about love, work, and marriage that asks how far one family and one community will go to protect their future.Colleen and Rich Gundersen are raising their young son, Chub, on the rugged California coast. It’s 1977, and life in this Pacific Northwest logging town isn’t what it used to be. For generations, the community has lived and breathed timber; now that way of life is threatened.Colleen is an amateur midwife. Rich is a tree-topper. It’s a dangerous job that requires him to scale trees hundreds of feet tall—a job that both his father and grandfather died doing. Colleen and Rich want a better life for their son—and they take steps to assure their future. Rich secretly spends their savings on a swath of ancient redwoods. But when Colleen, grieving the loss of a recent pregnancy and desperate to have a second child, challenges the logging company’s use of the herbicides she believes are responsible for the many miscarriages in the community, Colleen and Rich find themselves on opposite sides of a budding conflict. As tensions in the town rise, they threaten the very thing the Gundersens are trying to protect: their family.Told in prose as clear as a spring-fed creek, Damnation Spring is an intimate, compassionate portrait of a family whose bonds are tested and a community clinging to a vanishing way of life. An extraordinary story of the transcendent, enduring power of love—between husband and wife, mother and child, and longtime neighbors. An essential novel for our times.