"Amber McMillan's writing balances an eye for the unusual and resiliently beautiful with a sympathy for the frailties common to all her islanders."
-Kevin Chong, author of Baroque-a-Nova, Neil Young Nation and Beauty Plus Pity
The Woods: A Year on Protection Island is a personal memoir that probes the unique and sometimes unsettling tenor of life on one of BC's smallest gulf islands. The measure of one's success here, the author discovers, doesn't rely on status or income, but on the ability to adapt both the rigorous outdoors of the Pacific Northwest and equally challenging human community of need, trade, and negotiated civility.
These are stories of the people and families who sought refuge here, for different reasons and with different outcomes: a city contractor whose idea of relaxing in the country is to spend his time running noisy power tools; a septuagenarian library curator who has happily re-discovered men and Scotch; but mostly the book is about the author and her family.
Amber McMillan is the author of the short story collection The Running Trees, the memoir The Woods: A Year on Protection Island and the poetry collection We Can’t Ever Do This Again. She has won a Penguin Random House award for fiction and was shortlisted for the Montreal International Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in Maisonneuve, Arc, Global Poetry Anthology, Room, The Walrus and other publications across North America. She lives in New Brunswick.
"If you are toying with the notion of island life, McMillan's The Woods is necessary and honest research into the pros, cons and head-banging, eye-rolling panorama of life on a tiny island." --The Vancouver Sun
"McMillan works to deromanticize the small community. She debunks the myth that the island was originally called Douglas Island, extrapolating the colonial underpinnings of this false history." --Quill & Quire
“McMillan works to deromanticize the small community. She debunks the myth that the island was originally called Douglas Island, extrapolating the colonial underpinnings of this false history.”
"It's about moving to Protection Island with her husband and small daughter. And it's genius for a number of reasons. It starts in Toronto and does such a wonderful job of capturing the sort of big city stress that so many young families are now dealing with … and the dreaming of a simpler life."
“The book is rigorously researched and peppered with fascinating tidbits of historical and geographical information; in one chapter, “The Curious Myth of Douglas Island,” the author muses on the nature of storytelling before moving on to a very thorough investigation of the history of the island’s name... The Woods describes an experience of the West Coast with honesty and earnestness that counterbalances idealized odes to the region. “
The effectiveness of this tale rests on McMillian’s talents as a writer. She plods along with a poetic whimsy that feels as though I am listening to an old friend recount the past few months over the phone. ... The Woods is a raw, beautiful, dark and mysterious journey that runs the gamut of emotions, and provides food for thought as you ponder the next big change in your life.”