Review: The Consolations of the Forest

Consolations banner

Release date: September 17, 2013

Page number: 256

Publisher link

HC ISBN: 978-0-8478-4127-1
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-8478-4140-0


My Review:

I have not read Thoreau’s work yet, but when I visited Walden Pond I had a strong urge to not only read his book but to also to find a cabin of my own to live in away from society for a stretch of time. I haven’t been able to fulfill this dream yet.

Sylvain Tesson has. Not only has he done what I want to do, but he’s written a wonderful book about his experiences. At first I was hesitant that I would get bored with The Consolations of the Forest. I mean, it’s about one man living on his own in a cabin on Lake Baikal in Siberia. I think in less capable hands the book would have been a near miss. However, from the first page of Tesson’s book I was hooked. It’s not a thriller of any type, but I couldn’t put the book down. His insights about solitude, his descriptions of the landscape, and discussions on the readings he brought with him were a delight to read. What impressed me was the way he was able to pull me into his world. Some might think his story progresses slowly, but that’s what I loved. Each diary entry pulled me further and further into his world and I didn’t want it to end.

His diary opened my eyes to not only the world he was experiencing but to our world as well. Some of his descriptions are beautiful, but haunting. And he has a wicked sense of humor and keen insight into the human world.


consolations coverA meditation on escaping the chaos of modern life and rediscovering the luxury of solitude.

Winner of the Prix Médicis for non-fiction, THE CONSOLATIONS OF THE FOREST is a Thoreau-esque quest to find solace, taken to the extreme. No stranger to inhospitable places, Sylvain Tesson exiles himself to a wooden cabin on Siberia’s Lake Baikal—a full day’s hike from any “neighbor”— with his thoughts, books, a couple of dogs, and many bottles of vodka for company. Writing from February to July, he shares his deep appreciation for the harsh but beautiful land, the resilient men and women who populate it, and the bizarre and tragic history that has given Siberia an almost mythological place in the imagination.

Rich with observation, introspection, and the good humor necessary to laugh at his own folly, Tesson’s memoir is about the ultimate freedom of owning your own time. Only in the hands of a gifted storyteller can an experiment in isolation become an exceptional adventure accessible to all.  By recording his impressions in the face of silence, his struggles in a hostile environment, his hopes, doubts, and moments of pure joy in communion with nature, Tesson makes a decidedly out-of-the-ordinary experience relatable to the reader who may be struggling with hir or her own search for peace and balance in life. The awe and joy are contagious, and one comes away with the comforting knowledge that “as long as there is a cabin deep in the woods, nothing is completely lost.”

Author bio

Sylvain Tesson

Sylvain Tesson is a writer, journalist, and celebrated traveler. He has been exploring Central Asia—on foot, bicycle, and horse—since 1997. A best-seller in his native France, he is published all over the world—and now in the United States. 

Author Links:


Websites:   ;

To follow the other stops on the blog tour click here. I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Tomorrow I will share an excerpt on my 50 Year Project blog and there will be a giveaway for US and Canadian readers.

About TBM

TB Markinson is an American who's recently returned to the US after a seven-year stint in the UK and Ireland. When she isn't writing, she's traveling the world, watching sports on the telly, visiting pubs in New England, or reading. Not necessarily in that order. Her novels have hit Amazon bestseller lists for lesbian fiction and lesbian romance. She cohosts the Lesbians Who Write Podcast ( with Clare Lydon. TB also runs I Heart Lesfic (, a place for authors and fans of lesfic to come together to celebrate lesbian fiction.
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46 Responses to Review: The Consolations of the Forest

  1. Thank you for this. I really believe in the beauty of self-belief. You’ve made the book necessary. I am at a point in my life where I am about to make a major decision and while it could slow me down, it may not be the correct decision or it might be. I hate not knowing the answer. Again, great review!

  2. When I saw your review in my inbox, I went to Amazon for a sneak peak at Tesson’s book. Wow. It’s the next thing I’m going to read. What gorgeous prose. I can’t thank you enough for this introduction! I really can’t wait!

    Hope your day is going well. Will you take Miles out for a run today?

    Hugs from Ecuador,

    • TBM says:

      I hope you like this book as much as I did. Briefly I wanted to live in Siberia. Part of me still does.

      Not sure we’ll go on a run, but I promised him I’d take him to the park later to play fetch. We are currently waiting for a plumber.

      • Siberia sounds totally cool! No pun intended! It’s extremity would inevitably make it interesting and lend itself to intense reflection and, thus, great writing–assuming one can write, of course.

        Happy plumbing.

      • TBM says:

        I think you’ll like this book since you have a great idea of what it’s about already.

        yeah for plumbing!

  3. Sounds like a fascinating book! I love reading people’s diaries…not that I’m nosy or anything. 🙂 Thanks for a great review. Good luck with the plumbing. We lucked out and found a fantastic plumber after our pipe disaster.

    • TBM says:

      I hope your plumbing problem is all fixed by now. I’m still waiting for ours to arrive.

      Stop by my 50 year blog tomorrow for a chance to win a copy of this one. I think you’d like it. I love diaries as well, not that I’m nosy 🙂

      • The plumbing problem is fixed but the damage remains. We’ve had a terrible time getting people to give us estimates, very frustrating.

        I’ll be here tomorrow! 🙂

      • TBM says:

        We are having the same issues with some bookshelves that fell off the wall. It wasn’t pretty, that’s for sure. Finally we got an estimate and hopefully he’ll come back and actually do the work. Good luck!

  4. Pingback: France Book Tours stops for Dec 2-7 | France Book Tours

  5. Pingback: Sylvain Tesson on Tour: The Consolations Of The Forest | France Book Tours

  6. thanks for your great review. This is without hesitation my favorite nonfiction of the year! Emma [FBT]

  7. The Hook says:

    Great review.
    Best author bio pic ever!
    Well done, everyone!

  8. lexacain says:

    I grew up with the forest in my back yard. I know how beautiful and peaceful it is, and I miss it. Your review was great, and the book sounds wonderful!

    (FYI, when you comment on blogspot blogs, your “TBM” sig leads to a blogger profile without your name or this blog on it. Luckily, because I know you, I found your wordpress addy in my “Dream Destination” Linky! But to make sure others find you, maybe you should add this site addy to your blogger profile. It would be a shame for blogger peeps to miss your posts and great reviews. 😀 )

    • TBM says:

      Oh it would have been wonderful to grow up with the forest in my backyard.

      And thanks! I hadn’t even thought of updating my profile on blogger. Hopefully it is now. Looking forward to the Dream Destination hop!

  9. Living like Thoreau in Siberia sounds like an interesting read. Isn’t Walden Pond a beautiful little place? Whenever I visit there I always bring a copy of Thoreau’s book. It’s best read when no one is around on the beach.

    • TBM says:

      I only went to Walden Pond once and I loved it. Such a shame I didn’t visit more while I lived in Boston. Now I’ll have to picture you there, reading Thoreau.

      • It’s too bad you only went there once! Hopefully you’ll get a chance again sometime. I took full advantage of hanging out in Concord when I was in Boston. Thoreau, Alcott, and Emerson – who could resist! 😀

      • TBM says:

        When I found out I was moving, I made a mad dash to do all the things I thought I would have years to do. I loved Concord and Lexington for their history and literary connections.

      • Sigh! Isn’t that so true of the places we call home…we tend to think there will be plenty of time to check out all the places. I love Boston and its neighboring suburbs. So many of my favorite writers spent time there that I love revisiting.

      • TBM says:

        Boston is a great town. When I moved there I didn’t think I would move again. You never know where life will take you. Now I try to sight see as much as possible in London so I don’t make the same mistake.

  10. Sherri says:

    Oh how I want to go away to a cabin like this and just write! I honestly think it’s the only way!!!

    Growing up in rural countryside in Suffolk we were surrounded by woods and fields and although it wasn’t anything like the experience that is described in this book, I think I can understand how it must have been to have been so close to nature and to come face to face with isolation and the freedom that comes with it even in the face of so many personal challenges. It must be a spellbinding read.

    A wonderful review, thank you TB 🙂

  11. Pingback: The Consolations of the Forest Excerpt and Giveaway | 50 Year Project

  12. Catherine Johnson says:

    Thanks so much for sharing, this sounds wonderful. I heard on the radio yesterday the tv equivalent from Norway called slow t.v. is set to be a huge hit.

  13. simplyilka says:

    Thank you for the great review! I am always looking for new interesting authors for our book club. And he definitely is. I might go crazy alone in a cabin but I know solitude is an intense and fulfilling experience to lots of people. Thank you again 🙂

    • TBM says:

      Oh this one would be a fun one to discuss in a book club. Don’t forget to serve vodka to get into the spirit of it. I can’t believe how much he drank. Never could I do that. I would love to live in a cabin for a bit. But a month or two would be my max. Not six.

  14. Another wonderful read. Sigh. I want to read them all but will there be time?

  15. Pingback: Dream Destination Blog Hop and Other Announcements | Making My Mark

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