One freezing winter morning a dead body is found in the backyard of the Dharma family’s house. It’s the body of Anu Krishnan.
For Anu, a writer seeking a secluded retreat from the city, the Dharmas’ “back-house” in the sleepy mountain town of Merrit’s Point was the ideal spot to take a year off and begin writing. She had found the Dharmas’ rental through a happy coincidence. A friend from university who had kept tabs on everyone in their graduating year - including the quiet and reserved Vikram Dharma and his first wife, Helen - sent her the listing. Anu vaguely remembered Vikram but had a strong recollection of Helen, a beautiful, vivacious, social, and charming woman.
But now Vikram had a new wife, a marriage hastily arranged in India after Helen was killed in a car accident. Suman Dharma, a stark contrast to Helen, is quiet and timid. She arrived from the bustling warmth of India full of the promise of her new life - a new home, a new country, and a daughter from Vikram’s first marriage. But her husband’s suspicious, controlling, and angry tirades become almost a daily ritual, resigning Suman to a desolate future entangled in a marriage of fear and despair.
Suman is isolated both by the landscape and the culture, and her fortunes begin to change only when Anu arrives. A friendship begins to form between the two women as Anu becomes a frequent visitor to the house. While the children, Varsha and Hemant, are at school, Anu, Vikram’s mother, Akka, and Suman spend time sharing tea and stories.
But Anu’s arrival will change the balance of the Dharma household. Young Varsha, deeply affected by her mother’s death and desperate to keep her new family together, becomes increasingly suspicious of Anu’s relationship with her stepmother. Varsha’s singular attention to keeping her family together, and the secrets that emerge as Anu and Suman become friends, create cracks in the Dharma family that can only spell certain disaster.
What the critics say
SHORTLISTED 2012 - Quebec Writers’ Federation Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction
LONGLISTED 2013 - IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
FINALIST 2013 - OLA Evergreen Award
"Part literary whodunit, part psychological drama, Tell It to the Trees is all about solitude and secrets - and how the two can combine to hold a family together; and, at the same time, tear it apart." (The Gazette)
“Heartfelt and heartbreaking.... A chilling and pertinent read, one that remains frost-burned in the mind after the final page has turned.” (The Georgia Straight)
What listeners say about Tell It to the Trees
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Tell it to the trees
I listened to this horrifying depiction of domestic abuse from all of the different perspectives. Excellent subject. Difficult to listen too. This book was well written and simple. Very disturbing.