50 pages 1 hour read

Tana French

The Witch Elm

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2018

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Chapters 1-2Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 1 Summary

Protagonist Toby Hennessy begins his first-person narration with a reflection on luck. He acknowledges experiencing a relative amount of luck and references Ivy House, his family’s estate, as evidence of his current good fortune. He also alludes to luck’s deceiving nature, and his narrative flashes back to a night several years earlier.

While out with his childhood friends Sean and Declan (or Dec), Toby discreetly celebrates his good fortune at work. He is a public relations executive for a local art gallery, and a successful campaign for an upcoming show earned him a spotlight in the local newspaper. He hopes to use this success to advance his career at a large PR firm. Toby also feels fortunate to have avoided work-related drama resolved by firing his coworker, Tiernan. Posing as an artist named Gouger, Tiernan created art pieces to enhance the upcoming show. Toby knew about Tiernan’s fraudulent work but encouraged him to create more pieces, finding the art easy to market. He feels lucky to have his job, and while he feels sympathy for Tiernan, he holds no personal responsibility for his termination.