The Vaster Wilds: A Novel (Hardcover)

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The Vaster Wilds: A Novel By Lauren Groff Cover Image
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Staff Reviews

It's no longer a question of if I will read a book by Lauren Groff but when, and I'm very glad I picked this one up sooner rather than later. This is an absolutely brutal and heart-rending story of a girl trying to survive in the wilderness after escaping from a settlement of colonial invaders who forced her to travel with them to the "new world." This book is full of anguish but also left me feeling a deeper appreciation for the power of nature and the fragility of life. The beauty of Groff's writing, even when about truly horrific experiences, is something that I'm in awe of every time I open one of her books.
— From Miranda's picks (page 2)

Groff's brilliant prose and pacing sets the rhythm for a servant girl escaping colonial Jamestown and fleeing through the wildness. She is completely alone and through her journey, we learn her present, her past and a desired future. This is a remarkable piece of writing and storytelling which shines a mirror to the modern day experience of being alone, of being a woman and going after something better.
— From Cindy's Picks (page 1)

This is by far Lauren Groff’s best novel yet. Set during the Starving Time of 17th century Jamestown, a young girl runs away from the colony, hoping to escape the violent sickness and death that rages throughout. As she makes her way into the wilderness of an America still largely untouched by Europeans, she finds there is more to the world than she could have ever imagined. Written with stark iambic rhythm, Groff doesn’t just explain things; she completely immerses you in the story. You feel the overwhelming panic and tightening lungs as the girl runs for her life; the stinging bite of cold creeping into your bones as she unsuccessfully attempts to start a fire; the ache of longing to be loved by another as she lies in agonizing solitude, wondering what a future in this vast and lonely wilderness will look like. You live this girl’s life, and in the end you learn what she has learned: There is wonder to be found in the unknown and strength to be gained when we embrace the duality of nature, rather than trying to control it. I was devastated by this book and came to love and root for this girl, navigating a world of violence and oppression like countless other unnamed women throughout history.
— From Natalie's Picks

Nuanced. Layered. Creative. Visionary. Bold. Lyrical. Environmental. Feminist. Patriarchal. Historical. Emotional. Botanical. Dendrological. Isolating. Captivating. Indiginous. Elegiac. Spiritual. Compelling. A stunning novel of survival by one of our best writers today. She writes, "It is a moral failure to miss the profound beauty of the world..." and I say it would be a moral failure to miss the profound beauty of this novel.
— From Gayle's Picks (page 1)





“Part historical, part horror, part breathless thriller, part wilderness survival tale, The Vaster Wilds is a story about the lengths to which we will go to stay alive."—NPR staff pick

“Lauren Groff just reinvented the adventure novel."—Los Angeles Times

Glorious…surroundings come alive in prose that lives and breathes upon the page." —Boston Globe

A taut and electrifying novel from celebrated bestselling author Lauren Groff, about one spirited girl alone in the wilderness, trying to survive

A servant girl escapes from a colonial settlement in the wilderness. She carries nothing with her but her wits, a few possessions, and the spark of god that burns hot within her. What she finds in this terra incognita is beyond the limits of her imagination and will bend her belief in everything that her own civilization has taught her.

Lauren Groff’s new novel is at once a thrilling adventure story and a penetrating fable about trying to find a new way of living in a world succumbing to the churn of colonialism. The Vaster Wilds is a work of raw and prophetic power that tells the story of America in miniature, through one girl at a hinge point in history, to ask how—and if—we can adapt quickly enough to save ourselves.

About the Author

Lauren Groff is a three-time National Book Award finalist and the New York Times bestselling author of the novels The Monsters of Templeton, Arcadia, Fates and Furies, Matrix, and The Vaster Wilds, and the short story collections Delicate Edible Birds and Florida. She has won the Story Prize and the Joyce Carol Oates Prize, and has been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Groff ’s work regularly appears in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and elsewhere.

Praise For…

Praise for The Vaster Wilds:

“I know of few other writers whose sentences are so beautiful and so propulsive. The girl embodies a furious onward motion, as does the prose.” —New York Times Book Review
“[A] thrilling historical adventure. . .the existential themes at the heart of Lauren Groff’s fifth novel—the rawness of life, the precious inner-workings of nature, the drive to continue on in the face of challenges—are as timely as they come.” TIME, "Top 10 Books of 2023"

"Part historical, part horror, part breathless thriller, part wilderness survival tale, The Vaster Wilds is a story about the lengths to which we will go to stay alive."—NPR

“Holds tension and sows mystery on every page.”—Vulture

“Groff’s seventh novel begins with a high-octane escape. . . .Though the white-knuckled tale of this young woman. . .Groff enlivens the dark crevices of colonial history. But the ambitions of The Vaster Wilds are loftier than this—in fact, they’re downright cosmic. . . .The result is an ecstatic transformation—one that’s a haunting and holy experience to read and behold.”Esquire, "The 20 Best Books of 2023"

“Transcendent. Mesmerizing. Dazzling. Incandescent. Audacious….All of those descriptors are accurate and none of them are sufficient to describe just how spectacular [Groff’s] new book is.” Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“Lauren Groff just reinvented the adventure novel… Groff’s world is Darwinian, but she doesn’t chronicle the survival of the fittest; she convinces us instead that even the unluckiest among us can find a way to the blessings of peace, quiet and freedom.” Los Angeles Times, "13 Best Novels of 2023"
“Glorious…Groff imagines a natural world where humans adapt to its contours rather than conquer them… We don’t need a hero’s tale of domination and plunder to fix the environment. We need more stories of how becoming part of the natural systems that surround us may help us survive. The Vaster Wilds is a terrific addition to a developing canon of our continued existence.”—The Boston Globe

“Lilting, whispered…poetic.”Wall Street Journal

Groff’s fiction is usually identified as ecological and feminist, which it certainly is, but it is theological too…Nature is Groff’s muse as well as her deity. Her prose, always alive and sensuous, is hit by an extra electrical charge…Groff has written the gospel.”—The Atlantic

A rollicking adventure story, quick-paced and snappy and frequently funny…impossible to put down...This book is exquisitely attuned to the experience of being a human body within nature...Stark, vicious, and transcendent, The Vaster Wilds is the best book I’ve read all year. It’s a triumph.—Vox

“Magnificent…a cosmic adventure story in which the state of the main character’s soul is just as important as the fate of her body.” —Slate, "Top 10 Books of the Year"

“Groff’s depictions of the untrammeled natural world, in all its beauty and brutality, are gorgeously rendered, as is the psychological portrait of her indefatigable protagonist, whose light blazes and then dims as her fortunes change… [I] found myself transfixed, and awestruck by the end.” Literary Hub
“Groff skillfully weaves the girl’s past into her forward flight... As she travels farther and farther from the fort, Groff draws the reader ever closer to naming the reason for her flight. It’s a stunning revelation, followed by an even more stunning ending. Full of wonder and heartbreak, The Vaster Wilds is a dazzling journey.”—Tampa Bay Times
“Groff creates a thrilling journey.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Mesmerizing. . .a stupendous imagining of early colonial America, and about the resilience of one young girl to survive despite all odds.”Town & Country

"Engrossing. . . The Vaster Wilds explores themes that are mainstays of Groff's work: faith, nature, what it means to be a woman in the world— and the ingenuity it takes to survive there."San Francisco Chronicle

“Breathtaking… It is impossible to overstate how spellbindingly she renders the grim reality of wilderness survival… It is not a story for the faint of heart, but it is also not without its softness, its triumphs, its aching moments of benediction and sheer beauty.” —Chapter 16
“Suspenseful and sweeping.” Southern Living

"Part-adventure, part-fable, classic Groff."—The Millions

“[A] page-turner with a built-in engine. . .once you slip into its rich rhythms, it’s an engrossing and rewarding journey.”Vogue, "Best Books of the Year"
“Illustrate[s] a fluid, almost cyclical understanding of history, and faith’s sticky place within it.” ­—Elle

"[An] absorbing, visceral study of survival." Vanity Fair

“Groff’s portrayal of the wilderness is not only raw and violent but also filled with moments of profound beauty and realization. As the girl navigates the forest, her journey becomes an allegory for the broader themes of environmental stewardship, the illusion of escaping the past, and female vulnerability in a male-dominated society. . .The contrast in these narratives showcases Groff’s versatility as a writer, her skill in creating intense, emotionally charged stories that challenge readers, and her insight into the historical and cultural forces shaping women’s lives.”Scientific Inquirer

“Extraordinary. . .Groff builds and maintains suspense on multiple levels, while offering an unflinching portrayal of her heroine’s desperation and will to survive. This is a triumph.” ­—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Groff's seventh book, a captivating survival story, starts off running. . . .this wholly enveloping book has. . . deep examinations of faith, dominion, and human nature; Groff's seemingly joyfully related, seamless period prose; and the time-collapsing sense of reading a text channeled directly from the mind of a long-ago-living, breathing woman facing extraordinary circumstances.”—Booklist, Starred Review & "Best of 2023"
“Groff’s imaginative journey into a distant time and place is powered by a thrumming engine. . . Immersion in the girl’s experience provides a virtual vacation from civilization. . . The writing is inspired, the imaginative power near mystic.”—­Kirkus Reviews
“Combines visceral detail and magisterial sweep. . . Lauren Groff's fifth novel, set in Virginia in the early 17th century, is a classic study of solitude and survival that stars a teenage girl fleeing starvation—and the scene of a crime.” —Shelf Awareness
Product Details
ISBN: 9780593418390
ISBN-10: 0593418395
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: September 12th, 2023
Pages: 272
Language: English