Heart Wood: Four Women, for the Earth, for the Future (Heartwood) is a fictional book with elements of science fiction, magical realism and nature writing. Interwoven with the plot is a good deal of California history, especially that of the Sierra Foothills and Yolo County farmlands. Taken together, these elements present a story that is much more than the sum of its considerable parts.
Four women, from different generations of the same family progress toward a common destiny united around the heartwood of a great oak, preserved in a desk. The theme itself might suggest women readers, but this is perhaps misleading. Author DicKard describes where we have been and where we are going as a society with dates ranging from the 1800’s to 2091 with prescient sensibility. Heart Wood: Four Women, for the Earth, for the Future is of interest to many, as unprecedented outcomes from climate change are currently being felt and history itself is quite remarkable in California.
Weaving between outcomes of GMO food sourcing to chip implants that suggest and communicate thoughts, reverting back to women getting the right to vote and, then again re-visiting the “Back to Earth” movement of the Sixties, the reader gains a perspective that is seen through connecting multiple generations, all with an imperative and implied destiny driving these women together beyond time.
Shirley DicKard is a fourth generation Californian who spent over a decade of meticulous research writing Heart Wood. Layered into this writing is much that people who live regionally will recognize, from the rivers that run through Sierra, Yuba and Nevada County to local folk heroes like John Olmsted. There is a reason so much of Heart Wood has the penetrating ring of authenticity: the book has its roots in the author’s own family and the places described are known.
Shirley DicKard has created a world that warns of a possible future while simultaneously showing great regard for the past. All this, while engaging the reader with wonderful characters who move the story along with a quickened pace.
It’s rare that one can be entertained, educated and enlightened with regard to society’s path all at the same moment. Heart Wood is a moving tribute to life in California, as it was before and where it might go in the future.
There is both hope and sadness intertwined in this beautifully written novel.
By Shirley DicKard
Sierra Muses Press, Nevada City
Released March 2020
Winner National Indie Excellence Awards for Visionary Fiction
Eric Hoffer Book Award Montaigne Medal Finalist for Thought Provoking Books
Available locally at The Bookseller in Grass Valley and Harmony Books in Nevada City.
Learn more about the author and the writing process at Sierra College’s Sierra Writers Conference (February 10-12th). This year’s conference is all-virtual. Catharine Bramkamp and Shirley DicKard will present The Heroine and the Mentor Saturday, February 12, 11 am–12:20 pm
Note: Ticket sales end Tuesday, February 8, at 11:30 pm
Learn more at www.shirleydickard.com