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AT THE EDGE OF THE WOODS by Kathryn Bromwich
Laura Mantovani has escaped to a small village in the woods near the Italian border, where she mostly keeps to herself; tending the garden, reading, running small errands. The villagers are cautiously welcoming of her, but there is an air of suspicion in their interactions. At the beginning, we know little of Laura. She is the quiet, eccentric outsider cast adrift in a close-knit community. Bromwich lulls us into believing this is a mostly traditional, albeit quirky, pastoral.
It is only through flashback that we learn why Laura has fled Paris. She was married to an abusive brute. Seeing no other way of breaking free, she simply disappeared. The cozy simplicity of her new life takes a sudden turn when she begins a secret affair with a local barman. A wolf appears near her cabin. And an old friend arrives at her door. With each turn, Laura is increasingly unmoored. The line between reality and illusion blurs, and she spirals towards a nightmare fugue state. Madness invites suspicion. The “outsider” becomes a “witch”. At the Edge of the Woods is a remarkable debut; an unsettling chronicle of country life and its oft unrecognised capacity to destroy the purest of minds.
At the Edge of the Woods by Kathryn Bromwich
Two Dollar Radio, 2023