An absolute contemporary cracker. Eleanor Catton intended to write a plot driven thriller using third person perspectives to give equal weight to all her complex and morally ambiguous characters. Birnam Wood is the name of an activist gardening collective that grows vegetables on vacant land as an altruistic not for profit endeavour. Robert Lemoine who offers them their "sell out" opportunity presents as a “doomsteader” tech billionaire who can on a whim indulge their pet project to elevate its worthy cause.
Macbeth style, as morality goes unchecked and ambition escalates, all plots unravel and hell breaks loose as self preservation becomes each characters primary driver. Eleanor Catton is having fun poking all the tropes about New Zealanders perception of themselves as an elite forward thinking eco-orientated nation. It is a highly engaging read descending deliriously as the tension builds into comic mayhem. Her plausible depiction of surveillance technology and other topical issues combine with her excellent character depiction to make for a satisfying complete package.
Five years ago, Mira Bunting founded a guerrilla gardening group: Birnam Wood. An undeclared, unregulated, sometimes-criminal, sometimes-philanthropic gathering of friends, this activist collective plants crops wherever no one will notice, on the sides of roads, in forgotten parks, and neglected backyards. For years, the group has struggled to break even. Then Mira stumbles on an answer, a way to finally set the group up for the long term: a landslide has closed the Korowai Pass, cutting off the town of Thorndike. Natural disaster has created an opportunity, a sizable farm seemingly abandoned.
But Mira is not the only one interested in Thorndike. Robert Lemoine, the enigmatic American billionaire, has snatched it up to build his end-times bunker - or so he tells Mira when he catches her on the property. Intrigued by Mira, Birnam Wood, and their entrepreneurial spirit, he suggests they work this land. But can they trust him? And, as their ideals and ideologies are tested, can they trust each other?
A gripping psychological thriller from the Booker Prize-winning author of The Luminaries, Birnam Wood is Shakespearean in its wit, drama and immersion in character. A brilliantly constructed consideration of intentions, actions, and consequences, it is an unflinching examination of the human impulse to ensure our own survival.