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The Stranger in the Woods The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit

This was a book I received an ARC of from Netgalley. I read a lot about this story when it was in the papers. In fact I read every story I could find. The “North Pond Hermit” as Christopher Knight was known, was a solitary man who was living alone in the woods for decades. He had a little camp set up that was totally invisible to the outside world and he sustained himself by stealing from nearby seasonal cabins in northern Maine. Big news when he was finally found, captured and brought to justice. But what happened next?

Finkel tells the story and does a good job giving you details of Knight’s life both in the woods and out of the woods, without pretending like he had more access to Knight than he really did. They exchanged some letters and had a few face to face visits, but Knight was an extremely private person and did not really encourage or seem to enjoy these visits. Finkel winds up in the awkward journalistic situation of trying to create a relationship with a person who doesn’t want one. I appreciated that Finkel didn’t embellish, didn’t make it seem like they were friends, and didn’t try to tie this all up with a bow at the end. Along the way there are a lot of good anecdotes about hermits but not enough to make you tired out by all the not-the-main-story stories.