Author: Ash Davidson
Genre: General Fiction
Publication Date: August 3, 2021
Book Description: An epic, immersive debut, Damnation Spring is the deeply human story of a Pacific Northwest logging town wrenched in two by a mystery that threatens to derail its way of life.
For generations, Rich Gundersen’s family has chopped a livelihood out of the redwood forest along California’s rugged coast. Now Rich and his wife, Colleen, are raising their own young son near Damnation Grove, a swath of ancient redwoods on which Rich’s employer, Sanderson Timber Co., plans to make a killing. In 1977, with most of the forest cleared or protected, a grove like Damnation—and beyond it 24-7 Ridge—is a logger’s dream.
It’s dangerous work. Rich has already lived decades longer than his father, killed on the job. Rich wants better for his son, Chub, so when the opportunity arises to buy 24-7 Ridge—costing them all the savings they’ve squirreled away for their growing family—he grabs it, unbeknownst to Colleen. Because the reality is their family isn’t growing; Colleen has lost several pregnancies. And she isn’t alone. As a midwife, Colleen has seen it with her own eyes.
For decades, the herbicides the logging company uses were considered harmless. But Colleen is no longer so sure. What if these miscarriages aren’t isolated strokes of bad luck? As mudslides take out clear-cut hillsides and salmon vanish from creeks, her search for answers threatens to unravel not just Rich’s plans for the 24-7, but their marriage too, dividing a town that lives and dies on timber along the way.
Told from the perspectives of Rich, Colleen, and Chub, in prose as clear as a spring-fed creek, this intimate, compassionate portrait of a community clinging to a vanishing way of life amid the perils of environmental degradation makes Damnation Spring an essential novel for our time.
Rating: 5 Stars
Review: Set in the Pacific Northwest, the story of a town that is known for their logging. Rich, Colleen and Chubb Gunderson are the family of this epic story. Set in the late 70’s they are a family trying to survive, but seem to always have major setbacks as this story tells.
Rich is older when he marries Colleen, but he is known as being one of the nicest guys ever. All he has ever known is logging. He sets his mind to buy his own parcel, where he can make some serious money. Colleen, loves her husband and her son, but deals with the nightmare of 8 miscarriages and the want for another child. She is also the unofficial mid-wife for this town. Chubb their young son loves his dad more than anything, and grows up with his close-knit friends and family.
While things seem quite good by the setup, the Gunderson’s and town are struggling. Many people are suffering miscarriages or worse, by the spraying they do in the forests. Also, the town is making deals that cause a ripple affect for many people.
This is a beautiful family drama. Told from the perspective of all three of the Gunderson, Ash Davidson gives us an unforgettable story. It is a lengthy book, but with very short chapters that kept this story moving quickly. For people who love the family narrative this is a can’t miss.
Thank you NetGalley and Scribner for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.