Into The Trees by Robert Williams
Published by Faber & Faber
3rd April 2014
Harriet Norton won't stop crying.
Her parents, Ann and Thomas, are close to insanity and only one thing will help. Mysteriously, their infant daughter will only calm when she's under the ancient trees of Bleasdale forest.
The Nortons sell their town-house and set up home in an isolated barn, secluded deep in the forest. They are finally approaching peace when one night a group of masked men comes through the trees, ready to upend their lives. With their new-found security under threat, the Nortons desperately try to recover what they've lost - risking family, friendships and love in the process.
Into The Trees is an interesting book as it's more the tale of four individual people who just happen to be connected by one event. The story begins with Ann and Thomas and the birth of their second child Harriet. She does not stop crying, or screaming. They have not slept. They cannot sleep. The doctors say it will pass but they don't know what to do or try next. One evening, Thomas takes Harriet out in the car for a drive, a long drive. He ends up in Bleasdale forest, and for the first time in forever, Harriet stops crying as the trees surround her. Thomas repeats this experiment again, and again, finally bringing Ann in to witness this event too. He then comes up with a plan - to build a house within the forest.
So far, so good. The plan works and the family are happy; sort of. Then one night, Harriet opens the door to a group of masked men who want Thomas to take them to his bank so they can rob it. He obeys. This event then turns the lives of this family, one of the criminals, and those who befriend the Nortons, upside down.
Raymond is a recluse. He is a larger than normal, and deemed slower than normal, individual who has reached the conclusion that to remain outside of society is the best way to live. He walks, and works, within Bleasdale forest, and becomes friends with Thomas and his family - until the night of the robbery that is, when he becomes pushed aside.
Keith is a chancer, a bully and an alcoholic. He beats his wife, his children have no manners and he suffers from 'small-man syndrome'. The night of the robbery is also going to change his life, in more ways than one.
I did enjoy Robert Williams' book. It's an interesting read. I initially though it was going to be a sort of thriller novel, but it's not. In my opinion it's a study of social behaviour. Of how events can ultimately change people, relationships and lives and whether or not we can control our destinies.