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Natural History

A collection of stories by

Named One of the Most Anticipated Books of 2022 by Kirkus, Literary Hub and The Millions

A masterful new collection of interconnected stories, from the renowned National Book Award–winning author.

In Natural History, Andrea Barrett completes the beautiful arc of intertwined lives of a family of scientists, teachers, and innovators that she has been weaving through multiple books since her National Book Award–winning collection, Ship Fever. The six exquisite stories in Natural History are set largely in a small community in central New York state and portray some of her most beloved characters, spanning the decades between the Civil War to the present day. In “Henrietta and Her Moths,” a woman tends to an insect nursery as her sister’s life follows a different path. In “Open House,” a young man grapples with a choice between a thrilling life spent discovering fossils and a desire to remain close to home. And in the magnificent title novella, “Natural History,” Barrett deepens the connection between her characters, bringing us through to the present day and providing an unforgettable capstone.

Told with Barrett’s characteristic elegance, passion for science, and wonderful eye for the natural world, the psychologically astute and moving stories gathered in this collection evoke the ways women’s lives and expectations—in families, in work, and in love—have shifted across a century and more. Building upon one another, these tales brilliantly culminate to reveal how the smallest events of the past can have large reverberations across the generations, and how potent, wondrous, and strange the relationship between history and memory can be.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"In Barrett's hands, science comes alive for the reader-never staid or inflexible, but bursting with energy and ambiguity, a source of adventure, discovery, solace, and, for some characters, devastation." - Laura van den Berg

"Andrea Barrett does not flinch from large subjects, yet her uncanny investigations into human curiosity are sensual and soul-enhancing, and always underlit by splendid intelligence." - Howard Norman

"A genius-enchantress. Who but Andrea Barrett can take on the inscrutable elegance of the cosmos and the messy complexity of the human heart in a single story?" - Karen Russell

"There is [in Andrea Barrett's writing] simply a sustained beauty of phrasing, a close care for the thing to be said and the best way to say it, that blend of precision and appropriateness that has always characterized the best prose, an attentiveness to the truth of human feeling that is in itself a supremely civilized value." - Barry Unsworth

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