Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 15
- Grade: 35561402-240544
Often, the way a story is told is as important as the story itself. This is true of the most recent novel by Gerry William, The Woman in the Trees.
Set during the time of first contact, The Woman in the Trees takes place around what is now Vernon, BC. The novel moves effortlessly from myth to dream time to narrative real time. Spanning the historical period from 1780 to 1860, The Woman in the Trees addresses a time of massive upheaval for the Okanagan people (the syilx). The coming of the horse, relations with early Europeans, and the smallpox epidemic dramatically changed the lives of the syilx.
Using traditional oral storytelling techniques, Gerry William crafts a compelling story that weaves together First Nations and Western narrative traditions. The dominating presence of Coyote chronicles the dreams and poetry of Wolverine, Blue Dreams, and Horse. Early settlers, ranchers and orchardists also tell their stories of arrival.
Part historical novel, part myth for our times, The Woman in the Trees will inspire and ultimately satisfy. For as the narrator says, "there are fifty ways to tell the beginning of everything, but there is only one ending."
About the author
Gerry William has a BA in English Literature and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies. He is a poet, essayist and the author of The Black Ship: Book One of Enid Blue Starbreaks, the first science fiction novel written by a Canadian First Nations author. William is Associate Dean at the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology and lives in Merritt, BC.
The Woman in the TreesThis engaging fictional story traces the Okanagan First Nations initial contact with Christian missionaries, fur traders, early settlers, farmers and orchardists of the Okanagan Valley of BC in the early 1820s. The Coyote begins the tale by explaining that stories are all the same, and it is the manner in which you tell them that makes the difference. The story he tells is of the mistreatment of Aboriginal peoples post contact. With humorous anecdotes, witty dialogue and a child’s naivety, the reader is taken to a strange, mythical world.
William was the first Aboriginal writer of science fiction in Canada with his book The Black Ship.
Caution: Many references to Aboriginal peoples as “Indians.”
Source: The Association of Book Publishers of BC. Canadian Aboriginal Books for Schools. 2007-2008.