Heart Wood: Four Women, for the Earth, for the Future
by Shirley DicKard
Sierra Muses Press

"Progress looks different when we women follow our own nature."

This beautifully crafted speculative historical novel takes the reader on an eco-journey with three family matriarchs whose lives are spiritually connected by a simple writing desk created from the heartwood of an oak tree and a cherished homestead constructed and reconstructed on acreage in California's Sierra Nevada. Born in mid-1800s Michigan, Eliza flourishes in the arms of a 300-year-old tree, Grandmother Oak. Harmony, a talented young pianist, quickly gives up her dream of the concert stage after four years of college. Instead, she is inexorably drawn to her great grandparents' old homestead during the back-to-the-land movement of the 1970s. Amisha, a doctor in dystopian late twenty-first-century San Francisco, can only treat the perennially ill children born to nearly infertile parents with packaged Pharm. food. Fed up with her limited life and the Wi-Fi implants that dominate every waking or sleeping moment, she too is drawn to the possibility of living on the land once owned by her great-great-grandparents, now a refuge for wandering environmental rebels.

Fans of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and Alice Walker's By the Light of My Father's Smile will appreciate the union of vibrant writing with strong sensory elements and sense of place, careful plotting, and memorable characters combined with the light touch of an almost magical realist sense of the paranormal. The story moves smoothly in a rotating first-person narrative through the lives of these three vastly different women living in vastly different eras, all compelled to buck the patriarchal status quo and live with the grace guided by their feminine wisdom. A fourth-generation Californian, DicKard delivers a sense of magic, deep engagement with environmental issues, and the bright hope that feminist perspectives will ultimately heal the ecological degradation and restore the earth to its proper balance.

A 2021 Eric Hoffer Book Award Montaigne Medal Finalist

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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