The Vaster Wilds by Lauren Groff

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In Lauren Groff’s captivating novel, a resourceful servant girl flees a colonial settlement, embarking on an unimaginable journey in a world transformed by colonialism. “The Vaster Wilds” is a compelling adventure and a thought-provoking fable that explores humanity’s struggle to adapt and survive in the face of a changing world. Groff’s narrative, driven by raw power, offers a microcosm of America’s history, urging us to ponder our ability to swiftly adapt and chart a new course amidst the tumult of colonial forces. This is a unique tale of resilience and adaptation in an evolving world.

Book review of The Vaster Wilds

“The Vaster Wilds” immerses us in the harsh reality of Jamestown, a desperate English settlement in 17th-century Virginia. Lamentations Callat, a resilient young girl, flees the doomed fort, embarking on a journey of survival. Lauren Groff’s novel is a captivating exploration of nature’s wonders, intertwined with philosophical musings on existence and the divine.

Groff’s prose is exquisite, painting vivid portraits of the wilderness. However, the novel’s repetitiveness and lack of a conventional plot may test readers’ patience. While it’s a slow read, it rewards those willing to delve into its depth.

This book offers more than a survival story. It delves into profound questions about the universe, God, and the relentless beauty and brutality of nature and humanity. It’s a primal scream, a love story, and a meditation on the human experience set against the backdrop of untamed wilderness.

The narrative relies heavily on a single character, making it a unique and introspective reading experience. The eloquent descriptions of nature’s challenges are juxtaposed with the protagonist’s anguish, at times bordering on self-indulgence.

While the book is not without its flaws, including some repetition, it offers a thought-provoking commentary on humanity’s impact on the environment, the agony of loss, the relentless drive to survive, and the inevitability of failure. It challenges readers to confront the harsh realities of existence, echoing the laws of thermodynamics: “You can’t win; you can’t even break even.”

Final verdict

In the end, “The Vaster Wilds” is an unconventional and introspective read that leaves a lasting impression. It’s a testament to Lauren Groff’s ability to capture the essence of the natural world and infuse it with philosophical depth. If you’re willing to venture into uncharted territory and explore the boundaries of storytelling, this book offers a unique and thought-provoking journey.

Our Score


  • Lauren Groff’s prose is rich and evocative, creating vivid imagery of the wilderness and its challenges. Her descriptions immerse readers in the world of the story.
  • “The Vaster Wilds” delves into profound philosophical questions about the universe, God, and humanity’s place in the natural world. It offers readers a chance to contemplate deeper themes.
  • The novel’s all-knowing narration, with the protagonist as the sole active character, offers a fresh and unconventional reading experience that may appeal to those seeking something different.


  • Some readers may find the narrative repetitive, particularly in detailing the protagonist’s travails in the wilderness. This repetition can lead to moments of boredom.
  • The novel lacks a traditional plot structure, making it a challenging read for those who prefer more straightforward storytelling with a clear narrative arc.
  • At times, the protagonist’s anguish and suffering can border on self-indulgence, which might test readers’ patience and empathy for the character.
The Vaster WildsPublisher ‏ : ‎ Riverhead Books (September 12, 2023)
Language ‏ : ‎ English
Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 272 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0593418395
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593418390
Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 15.8 ounces
Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.3 x 1 x 9.32 inches

About Article Author

Sophia Martinez

Writer, critic and columnist with more than 20 years of experience, Sophia Martinez has dedicated her entire professional career to the publishing world. She considers herself an amateur cook who always manages to surprise her guests with a dish from her native Costa Rica.
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