Anne LaBastille

Woodswoman (1976) and Beyond Black Bear Lake (1987)

As a teenager I fantasized about being Woodswoman–I was going to have a pickup truck and a German Shepherd named Wolfgang, and go live in the woods in a self-built cabin. LaBastille’s first memoir of living solo and spartan in the Adirondacks gives enough detail to make the romance believable and enough magic to make the practicalities enchanting. It’s still an enthralling read, although part of that is the nostalgia factor–the book is a little more disjointed than I remembered, and I’m not quite as infatuated with Anne-as-person as I was back then–but these are minor quibbles. The abundance of photos is a plus, and a rarity this early (they’re studded throughout the text, too, not bunched in that annoying center section you have to keep flipping back and forth to reference). I owned and re-read Woodswoman many times. I must have read Beyond Black Bear Lake at some point, because its description of acid rain killing Adirondack lakes has stuck with me (I thought it was in Woodswoman, but in that book Black Bear Lake is still pristine, and ecological concerns are distant). Same with the need to put dye packets in septic tanks to make sure they’re not contaminating the lake. In this follow-up, LaBastille builds “Thoreau II” to get even further away from civilization, so it’s got the same satisfactory construction narrative as the first book. There’s also a new romance and a new dog–it really is Woodswoman mark II. I may not think quite as much of LaBastille’s writing style as I once did, but I still deeply admire her and her lifestyle. These are classics of outdoors literature.

7 thoughts on “Anne LaBastille

  1. I know just what you’re talking about when you said you could imagine yourself as “woodswoman”. I didn’t read the book until I was 50 and now I am too old to actually take on that way of life…but I sure think of it often and wonder how close I could actually get to living without all the trappings of today.

  2. I also deeply admire Anne as I myself am woodswoman. I live in British Columbia and have been a solitary land survivor for over 10 years.

  3. I was about 10 when i read her books for the first time, and at 32, i’m still thinking about anne labastille and her lifestyle. dogs! woods! cozy cabins! snowshoes! canoes! god, i loved the idea of living in the woods with my dogs. i need to re-read these early books too.

  4. I have also read and re-read all of Anne LaBastille’s books. She is amazing. Does any one know if she still does speaking tours or if she holds her Women Only Workshops in upstate New York?

  5. I am a little over 50 and just starting reading the Woodswoman series. I so wish that I could get away into the Adirondacks! I would also like to know if she is still lecturing. By the dates of the books, I assume she is in her 60’s or 70’s by now. I have found her books very empowering and just wonderful to read.

  6. I am rather new to this form and hope I can find it again. Grew up in N.J. just below Hadden pl., but lost all contact with Anne. After going over my photo album of Montclair,N.J.(1953),and seeing a picture of her, and having no knowlwdge of what had transpired over the years, I began a hunt for Anne. I had long ago moved very far away. Luckily I found her and her books which I immediately got and devoured. I am now 70 and had a hard time realizing that somehow I had not stumbled on her books and life. Don’t have web page but I am thrilled by her experiences!

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