The Boys in the Trees

Publisher: Vintage Canada

A tragic event sends a small town reeling in Mary Swan's brilliant, Scotiabank Giller-nominated The Boys in the Trees, a haunting exploration of one family's desperation. For the first time in Vintage Canada.

William, his wife and 2 daughters, new immigrants to a small town in southern Ontario, are the picture of a devoted family. But when he is accused of embezzlement, William commits an unthinkable crime, and those who believed him to be an affectionate, attentive father are brought up short. Mary Swan examines the intricate and unexpected connections between the people in this close-knit community that continue to echo into the future. In her nuanced, evocative descriptions, a locket contains immeasurable sorrow, trees provide refuge for lost souls and grief clicks into place when a man cocks the cold-steel hammer of a revolver.

A supreme literary achievement, The Boys in the Trees offers a chilling story that swells with acutely observed emotion and humanity.


"This is a story that, despite its bleakness, is a joy to read. Swan's writing is both emotionally challenging and technically skillful. A beautifully sad success."
—Quill & Quire (starred review)

"A mesmerizing novel, that can truly claim to be filled with a 'terrible beauty.'"
—Alice Munro

"A lovely poignant novel, the movement of the narrative in time and space as natural and intricate as the movement of waves."
—Hilary Mantel, author of Bring Up the Bodies

"Beautifully written, the novel transpires in close-up, conveying a sense of intimacy and moving us right into the realm of the sometimes glorious, sometimes ghastly details. There are scenes you will not soon forget."
—Ann Beattie

"Swan's prose is tense, rhythmic and emotionally evocative . . . with its forceful observations and willed ambiguities, this challenging and often beautiful book can be as unsettling--and sometimes maddening--as a long look in the mirror."
The New York Times Book Review