The Red Grove

A Novel

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Pub Date May 14 2024 | Archive Date Jun 14 2024

Description

When her mother goes missing, a young woman uncovers the secrets beneath her protected community.

What kind of world might we have, who might we become, if everyone were truly safe? What price would we pay for that kind of freedom?

There are secrets beneath every community—even those founded with the purest of intentions—secrets as strong and reaching as the roots that keep us connected to one another and anchored to home.

The Red Grove is a special place, protected. Some say a spell was cast by its founder, Tamsen Nightingale. Some say the mountain lions stalking the nearby hills guard its mysteries and its boundaries. Some say the mighty redwoods keep its people safe.

Yet a man has died on the Red Grove’s sacred ground. And Luce’s mother, Gloria, has vanished. The Red Grove is Luce’s whole world. She is utterly devoted to its mission, its rituals and history. Still, she knows that her mother, frustrated free spirit though she might be, wouldn’t just leave without a word, wouldn’t leave Luce’s little brother, Roo, and their aunt, Gem, whose life and care in a suspended state they call everdream depend on Gloria in every way. But strange things begin to happen as Luce tries to figure out where her mother has gone. Clicks echo out from the trees, flies pound against the windows, and a strange man keeps calling on the phone. The deeper Luce digs, the more she must ask if her beloved home, the women she admires, and the stories they tell might be built on a devastating lie.

The debut novel by the acclaimed author of The Electric Woman, Tessa Fontaine’s The Red Grove is a story about mothers, daughters, and sisters, about the dangers of being a woman in this world, and about the flawed, fierce choices we make to protect what we love.

When her mother goes missing, a young woman uncovers the secrets beneath her protected community.

What kind of world might we have, who might we become, if everyone were truly safe? What price would...


A Note From the Publisher

Tessa Fontaine is the author of The Electric Woman: A Memoir in Death-Defying Acts, which was named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers choice, and a best book of the year by Southern Living, Amazon, Refinery29, and the New York Post. Her writing can be found in Outside, Glamour, AGNI, and The Believer. She has been a sideshow performer, a shoe saleswoman, and a professor, and she taught for years in jails and prisons. She cofounded and runs the Accountability Workshop with the writer Annie Hartnett. Raised among the redwoods of Northern California, she now lives in Asheville, North Carolina, with her husband, daughter, goofy dog, and sassy cat.

Tessa Fontaine is the author of The Electric Woman: A Memoir in Death-Defying Acts, which was named a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers choice...


Advance Praise

The Red Grove is a deeply atmospheric, haunting, and propulsive missing-person tale that explores the reverberations of violence and our complex, sometimes mystical relationship with nature and with one another. In achingly beautiful language, Tessa Fontaine illuminates the space between reality and myth, story and history, utopia and dystopia. I loved this novel.” —Angie Kim, author of Happiness Falls

“An eerie and beautiful exploration of the violence between men and women and the true nature of magic, The Red Grove is a shimmering, hidden world, and Tessa Fontaine is ferocious in every line. Intoxicating and impossible to put down.” —Rufi Thorpe, author of Margo’s Got Money Troubles

The Red Grove tells the tale of a magical place deep in the woods where no man can hurt a woman—then turns that magic over to expose its fly-riddled underside. Ambitious, inventive, and gorgeously written, it will lead you where you never thought to go.” —Julia Phillips, author of Disappearing Earth

“At once a haunting dream, a taut mystery, a level stare at gender violence, and an intricate generational tale of love and fear, Tessa Fontaine’s humane and stirring The Red Grove is unlike any other novel I’ve ever read.” —Paul Tremblay, author of The Cabin at the End of the World

The Red Grove is a spellbinding tale of myth and mystery, of loyalties tested, of violence, determination, doubt, and love. With tenderness and intelligence, Tessa Fontaine has crafted a story that is at once strange, troubling, and hopeful, with characters who will win readers’ hearts. A first-rate fiction debut.” —Therese Anne Fowler, author of It All Comes Down to This

“Faced with the many chilling ways humans tear up utopias, Tessa Fontaine’s The Red Grove does not flinch as it treads a dark and thrilling path through nature, community, magic, and love.” —Samantha Hunt, author of The Unwritten Book

“This gorgeous, frightening novel maps the hidden roots—as intricately woven as those beneath the ancient redwood forest of its setting—that link mother to daughter, and sibling to sibling, and utopia to fear. The Red Grove is a strange and wondrous flowering, equal parts gripping mystery, moving coming-of-age story, and brilliant exploration of the self-definition of a community founded on an impossible promise. Tessa Fontaine has given us a deft and enrapturing novel full of underground secrets, ready to spring.” —Claire Beams, author of The Illness Lesson

“A daughter’s quest to find her vanished mother yields a scorching and suspenseful exploration of the complex architectures of families, the mysteries entrenched in landscapes, and the illusory nature of safety. Is the enigmatic Red Grove a sanctuary or a site of violence? Tessa Fontaine’s thrilling novel shines a bright light on the foundational myths on which lives are built.” —Laura van den Berg, author of I Hold a Wolf by the Ears

The Red Grove depicts a commune high in the redwoods where all women are safe from any harm. Can that even be possible? I was hooked from the first page, wanting to discover the answer to that question—but wanting even more to be in the beautiful forest among the animals and the people who come to vivid life in these pages. This is a truly rich reading experience that I’ll be thinking about for a long time. Tessa Fontaine is brilliant.” —Alice Elliott Dark, author of Fellowship Point

The Red Grove is a deeply atmospheric, haunting, and propulsive missing-person tale that explores the reverberations of violence and our complex, sometimes mystical relationship with nature and with...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9780374605810
PRICE $28.00 (USD)
PAGES 336

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Average rating from 12 members


Featured Reviews

Immersive, unexpected, beautifully written. "The women can do anything. They do not need to be afraid ever again." Cinematic, probing themes of gender and violence, utopia/dystopia, the natural world. A fever dream of writing, reminds me why I love literary fiction. Thank you, Tessa Fontaine and FSG.

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4.5 Stars

’The trees soon revealed startling secrets. I discovered that they are in a web of interdependence, linked by a system of underground channels, where they perceive and connect and relate with an ancient intricacy and wisdom that can no longer be denied … They pass their wisdom to their kin, generation after generation, sharing the knowledge of what helps and what harms.’
- Suzanne Simard, ’Finding the Mother Tree’

’The women asked: Who is safe?
And Tamsen Nightingale said: The women who shelter in
this red grove are safe.
The women asked: How are they safe?
And Tamsen Nightingale said: In this red grove, no woman
can be harmed. No violence may come upon her. No
injury to her flesh from the flesh of another.
The women asked: Who is welcome?
And Tamsen Nightingale said: Those who can walk in
darkness are welcome and those who affix to the deeply
woven roots are free.
-The Story of the Sisters, Welcoming Incantation

This is a beautifully written story about women, the things they endure, and the bonds they form to keep one another safe. Set in Northern California, this is an atmospheric read, the setting is more or less a commune of women who are drawn to nature, although there are men who are part of this story, this is essentially a story of and about women.

Set in a community where the premise is to provide a safe place for these women living there, and to provide an ‘open door’ to any women who need a safe haven, and within this community are welcomed, they place their faith in knowing that they can do anything, and leave their fears behind them.

I loved this from the first pages, loved how easily this flowed, how beautifully written, and how the story came together at the end.


Pub Date: 14 May 2024

Many thanks for the ARC provided by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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