Winter Has Arrived & In the Woods by Tana French

In Maine, it seems that winter has finally showed her frosty face. It is snowing today, and it snowed last week when I took the following pictures.

The backyard looked serene in its muted colors,

and birds came to the feeder to eat.

A female cardinal,

a woodpecker,

and a chickadee.

Out front, the shovel and the buckets of salt and sand waited,

and Clif used Snow Joe to clean the driveway and walkways.

I know you all enjoying seeing our red home nestled in the snow so after the snow was cleared, I took this picture.

On the weekend, after all that snow, I figured we deserved a little treat, and I made these chocolate vegan muffins.

Actually, snow or not, I would have made these muffins. After all, what is life without treats? Six days a week, we eat a low-carb, low-calorie diet, but one day a week we splurge. While the muffins might be vegan, they are certainly not low in calories or carbs. But, as my Yankee husband might say, they are pretty darned good.



I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I especially like ones that cover books, movies, and television shows. A few weeks ago, on Slate’s Culture Gabfest, Julie Turner, one of the hosts, recommended the American-Irish writer Tana French, who writes crime novels. This is not my first choice of genres, but Turner praised French’s writing, her craft with words as well as her ability to tell a ripping good story.

I decided it was time for this old reader to learn a new trick, and I requested French’s first novel, In the Woods, through my library’s interlibrary loan system.

In the Woods is about two crimes that happen twenty years apart on the outskirts of Dublin. In the 1980s, three children go into the woods—only one, Adam Ryan, comes back. Adam’s memory of what happened is completely gone, and he is unable to help the investigators. Adam and his parents move; he takes his middle name, Rob; and the past recedes. Rob becomes a detective in Dublin and befriends fellow detective Cassie Maddox.

Then twenty years later, along comes another murder in the neighborhood where Rob grew up, and he discovers that the past is never really past. Are the two murders connected? Will Rob’s memory return to help him solve the original crime? Will Cassie and Rob’s relationship move past friendship?

I will not answer any of these questions, but I will note that although the middle sagged a bit, In the Woods kept me reading, and I raced through theΒ  last fifty pages to see how the story would end. I was not disappointed by the ending, which somehow managed to be both surprising and unsurprising.

French is indeed a good writer, with a pleasingly understated—at least to me—style. Both Cassie and Rob are prickly, flawed characters that I came to care about. Also, French describes Dublin in enough detail to give a sense of place but not so much that it becomes tedious.

I’ll be reading more Tara French, even though crime thrillers are not my preferred genre.












83 thoughts on “Winter Has Arrived & In the Woods by Tana French”

  1. The wonderful thing about blog reading – well, reading in general, I guess – is getting a glimpse at other people’s “everyday”: the birds at your feeder are so different to the ones here, your red house looks so cosy with its snow blanket, and Snow Joe looks like the coolest gizmo ever!

    1. Yes, I love that about blogging, too. Wonderful to see glimpses of where other people live—their houses and landscapes, the birds and animals that live in their area. So interesting!

  2. I read ‘The Witch Elm’ by Tana French – quite a powerful read and a bit disturbing but well worth giving it a go. Your house does look beautiful in the snow (and I am no snow lover…).

  3. I like seeing all the birds at your feeder. We’ve had a lot of winter birds lately, including snowbirds (aka dark eyed juncoes). A few weeks ago, walking on Roosevelt Island, we came upon an area that was full of birds–woodpeckers, juncos, chickadees, various kinds of sparrows. They are endlessly fascinating to watch. I’m enjoying your book reviews, too. I have not read Tana French and knowing a bit more now, I might give her a try.

  4. Isn’t it wonderful to finally have the beauty that winter can bring. I not only love the look of freshly fallen (and falling) snow, I love the quiet of it!

  5. Hi, Laurie – Your snow-filled pictures, and chocolate vegan muffins, look beautiful. It hasn’t snowed here since just before Christmas. Although your photos are beautiful – I would definitely love for our snow to stay away! πŸ˜€

  6. The muffins look delicious, and go Clif and Snow Joe. We have snow and more snow. Our trees are hanging on the ground, and we lost several huge limbs. A neighbor’s branches took out her power lines, and our town has one of the highest outages in the state. Right now, we have heat and power, and I’m grateful. Tomorrow morning I’ll be back outside clearing snow.

    1. Oh, gosh! Sorry to read that so much of your town is without power. Hope it isn’t out too long. But glad you are snug and warm and have power. Our area pretty much kept its power, but southern Maine was hit hard. Clif did a lot of clearing yesterday, and we’ll both be going outside this morning to do some more before Wednesday’s storm.

      1. I spoke too soon. Power went out for 16 hours, got down to 56 in the house. Back on now, and I just finished shoveling. We got 7″ yesterday and the bottom couple were ice. Cleaning my truck was a real experience let alone the driveway. πŸ™‚ I could use a break, but we have more coming tomorrow. Stay warm.

      2. Oh, no! Too long and too chilly. Clif and I just finished cleaning the driveway and all the other little paths we seem to need. (Got to feed those birds!) Snow Joe did a great job. Me and my shovel didn’t do too bad either. πŸ˜‰ Hope you keep your power during the next storm.

  7. I relish your snow scenes Laurie – it is cooler than usual this grey Singapore morning, and I can almost imagine myself in your kitchen devouring those delectable muffins as I hear Snow Joe blowing hard to clear the snow outside!

  8. The sight of your house in snow, combined with a good book and those muffins, seems the very definition of ‘coziness.’ Granted, the big snows I remember brought some issues, but watching it fall from inside a warm house, and thinking of the fun to come once we could go outside, was wonderful. Of course, that’s mostly a child’s view. I’m sure my dad was thinking of shoveling, and getting to work!

    1. Yes, snow is much different for a child than it is for an adult. Lots of work getting the snow cleared. But now that Clif is retired, some of the pressure is off. However, we had enough snow yesterday that many things were closed.

  9. I always think your red house looks very snug covered in snow…and muffins and once a week treats are definitely needed in winter! πŸ˜πŸ‘πŸ‘
    Kept warm and happy reading. 😁

  10. Beautiful photos Laurie. I’ve not read any Tana French but I can tell you that In the Woods was serialised on tv in the early episodes of Dublin Murders. For some reason we never reached the end but I remember thinking that the story was gripping. Maybe I’ll revisit it now you’ve reminded me!

  11. A cosy, snuggly cottage house in a lovely snowy scene. We’ve been more or less confined to quarters for a week now due to very bad ice on the hilly, narrow roads around our village which they don’t bother to grit. This, after a fairly light shower of snow that lasted half an hour a week ago! We should have got into the habit of putting on winter tyres as we did every October/November in France and we will next year. We’re just not geared up for snowy/icy weather in the U.K. which should change as it seems to be more frequent.
    Like you, I’ve never been a fan of crime fiction until recently. It has suddenly become a bit addictive but only if well written, I’ll give Tana French a try. I’ve started ‘The Ashes of London’ by Andrew Taylor as you recommended in your last post and am enjoying it so far – I suspect I’ll be looking for more from him.

    1. It must be hard to deal with ice and snow when you’re not geared up for it. In Maine, snow and ice are normal for us so we are ready at every level. Had a big storm yesterday, but it’s pretty much all systems go today. As for any genre of writing… good writing is essential. And as I age, I want to push myself to read books I might not normally read. I want my mind to stay active and interested in new things.

  12. Beautiful pictures, especially the muffins. πŸ™‚ Wishing we had some snow here in the mid-atlantic! Thanks for the Tana French recommendation, I have not read anything by her yet.

      1. You must have sent some good luck my way, as we had about 10 minutes of beautiful snow here today, lol. Rain now, but it was pretty while it lasted. Enjoy your new book!

  13. Hi Laurie, I am rereading this post this morning just to see the snow and the birds. I haven’t had breakfast yet so the muffins look very good. I watch the weather station so am keeping up with where the snow is. Enjoy your day.

    1. Thanks, Derrick. Next week I will be writing about Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner. It wouldn’t surprise me if you had read the book or some of her other novels. Anyway, there will be spoilers.

  14. I’m glad you’re finally getting the winter snow you’ve been hoping for, Laurie. We’re awaiting a snowstorm here (and I’m not as pleased about it as you, ha!). Never read this book, but it sounds intriguing — thanks for the recommendation.

    1. January in Maine means snow, and although it is late in coming, it is finally here. What I hate is freezing rain, which is forecasted for tomorrow. Would much rather just get snow.

  15. I prefer your snow-covered serene house and garden in their wintry woods to the evil events taking place in those other woods. I have also thought about reading some of Tana French’s novels, but have yet to do so.

  16. I don’t read much crime either, which is strange as I owned as many Agatha Christie books as I could find when I was a teenager. You have certainly got us beaten hands down (or should that be wellies up?) for snow.

  17. It’s funny how the snow turns everything to black and white (except for your red house, Laurie – a nice blast of color). The muffins sound great like a tasty treat after clearing the driveway. Enjoy the snow as spring is only a few months away. πŸ™‚ And I love the cover of “In The Woods.” That’s for the intro to the book. πŸ™‚

    1. I love the muted colors of winter. But our red house does provide a nice pop of color. I would like to say we planned it that way, but we are nowhere near that organized. πŸ˜‰

  18. Always love seeing your beautiful home throughout the seasons!! The muffins look like a great reward for the week! My bookshelves are full of crime thrillers, including Tana French, and this book was also adapted into a series called Dublin Murders.πŸ™‚

    1. Oh, thank you! I’m edging my way into thrillers. Love getting recommendations from blogging friends. I feel as though it opens up my reading world. I will be seeing if I can find Dublin Murders on streaming.

  19. YAY! Snow Joe got an outing! Your home looks so pretty! I read the Tana French novel a while back and enjoyed it too. Stay warm and enjoy your treats.

  20. Oh, wow. Laurie. We haven’t had a drop of snow . Love seeing your pretty house and yard. Our climates are different, but we have the exact same birds in our yards.

  21. Your snow pictures are always a treat, Laurie. Those muffins look like a fun treat as well. It think it’s great that you treat yourself on the weekend while watching what you eat during the week. You write great reviews, Laurie.

  22. A couple of hours after reading this post we took a drive out to bookshop in another part of the county. I spotted a copy of In the Woods, and decided to give it a try. I read a fair amount of crime fiction (mostly scandi-noir) but haven’t come across Tana French before, so I’ll be interested to see if she’s my type of writer. Thank you for the recommendation.

  23. I wish it would snow in my neck of the woods! It has been very cold, but not a single flake thus far. Your place looks like a post card. One of the sweetest homes ever. x Michele

Comments are closed.