The premise is simple enough. A guerilla environmental group in New Zealand, calling itself Birnham Wood, illegally plants gardens on vacant properties. As you would expect, the group is anti-Capitalist, barely operating on a shoestring budget, shares its produce with low income families, and is mostly run by women: visionary, competent, egalitarian, and occasionally, passively catty. Their ethics are challenged when an American billionaire looking to construct a doomsday bunker for himself in New Zealand offers to bankroll Birnham Wood on property he has just purchased on the edge of a National Park.
Should Birnham Wood take the money and after four years of insolvency finally enjoy stability and national recognition for their good efforts? Are they just being used as a publicity screen for a screwball capitalist bully? Are the billionaire’s intentions reliable or is greenwashing the sale of New Zealand real estate to foreigners a fair tradeoff? Can a non-profit with no hierarchical structure and some strong personalities hold itself together?
It’s a little weird that the author tells us many things that characters are thinking that they do not even know about themselves, but page after page, intentions, whether overt or handed to us by the writer turn darker and what begins as enviros versus the rich spins into something much deeper.