The Stranger in the Woods: The extraordinary story of the last true hermit by Michael Finkel

The Stranger In The Woods

I discovered the existence of this book through a newspaper review a little while back now. I was intrigued by the idea of being a hermit because it appeals to my Solitarian lifestyle, I had high hopes but it left me feeling quite empty. It gave me a true dose of reality.

I think the view of a hermit is always rather a romantic notion. In reality, it may be different and in the case of The Stranger in the Woods – this proved true.

Romantically, in my mind, the hermit lives in a little cottage in the middle of the woods, no one bothers them and they are either writers, poets or artists. For them, the idea of society and its so-called progression is an utter joke so an escape is inevitable.

This book, although wonderfully written got me thinking about the true identity of a hermit. My imagination flourished through tales of people being self-sufficient on the land but the reality of this particular hermit was supported by theft and burglary. He lived a stone’s throw away from his family and the idea of him having to “survive” was hardly a Tom Hanks Castaway scenario.

This is a book that will interest those who may seek the hermit lifestyle or may fantasize about leaving this world behind them. Christopher Knight left the modern world in the 1980’s and had no inclination to rejoin it but he was in for a surprise when he was brought back to the present-day in handcuffs

This is an enjoyable read that is full of compassion yet it left me feeling a little sad after reading about the hurt and terror it caused some of his victims – their lives felt threatened by someone who also felt threatened in the real world – quite the ironic situation, don’t you think?

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