The Heart of a Distant Forest

A Novel

Title Details

Pages: 224

Trim size: 5.500in x 8.500in



Pub Date: 09/12/2005

ISBN: 9-780-8203-2790-7

List Price: $24.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of Honorable M. Louise McBee

Related Subjects

FICTION / Literary

The Heart of a Distant Forest

A Novel

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  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Awards

Retired professor Andrew Lachlan has returned to his family home on a lake in central Georgia to die. And yet he has never felt so alive, so ready to learn about the natural world around him. Having taught all his life, he is ready for solitude. But a young country boy, Willie Sullivan, disrupts Lachlan’s search for order and rekindles memories he thought long dead.

Lachlan also finds Callie McKenzie, a woman he loved years earlier, and they soon begin to see in each other reflections of the lives they once led. Lachlan’s journal of his year by the lake leads him to a deeper understanding of himself and the world.

Williams's The Heart of a Distant Forest is, quite simply, one of the finest works of fiction in the history of Georgia literature—a lyrical, tender story of a man who rediscovers his life on his journey to death. Williams's writing is more than masterful storytelling; it is word—art. The South has few writers his equal.

—Terry Kay, author of The Valley of Light

It is precisely because Lachlan is not a larger-than-life character that we come to care and find ourselves moving eagerly with him from one day to the next.

New York Times Book Review

An auspicious talent . . . Williams handles his heavily weighted theme adroitly, never overstepping into sentimentality. His writing is colorful, knowledgeable, taut. . . . An unexpectedly rich reading experience.

Fort Worth News-Tribune

The Heart of a Distant Forest is like Shadow Pond, where Lachlan lives: natural, nourishing, quiet, and turbulent, inviting, and—in places—deep. Test it for yourself.

Knoxville News-Sentinel

Williams has a particular gift for creating beautiful imagery that encompasses not only a particular scene, but also the emotions associated with it. The Heart of a Distant Forest is, in short, a beautifully written work by a talented Southern author.

Spartanburg Herald-Journal

Despite its somber undertones, the novel resonates with a deeper joy and optimism. . . . An elegantly moving portrait of life's dignity, even at death.


One sentence into the book and you've got lyric poetry; 'Morning is rising in silence.' Lovely. It gets even better with passages you underline for sheer beauty, delight, and wisdom. Between these pages rests some of the best writing I've come across since Alice Walker's The Color Purple, but in a very quiet and very different way and life and tone.

Columbia State


Townsend Prize for Fiction, Chattahoochee Review and DeKalb College


25 Books All Georgians Should Read, Georgia Center for the Book

About the Author/Editor

PHILIP LEE WILLIAMS is the author of eleven books, including The True and Authentic History of Jenny Dorset and Crossing Wildcat Ridge. His novel A Distant Flame is winner of the Michael Shaara Award for Excellence in Civil War Fiction. Williams lives with his family near Athens, Georgia.