Sandra G. (Loveland, CO)
"Living in a fool's paradise"
As this novel unfolded, I expected the main conflict would be between Claire and her daughters over Claire's strong bond with her citrus ranch and their lack of interest in it. When breast cancer intervened and Minna the caregiver arrived, small details evoked a sense of foreboding. I was torn between wanting/not wanting to read more, uneasy as I was with what Minna's ulterior motives might be. I felt both sympathy for Claire as well as anger for allowing herself to be manipulated by Minna. The author pointedly described Claire as "living in her own fool's paradise."
The book was well-written with excellent descriptions of the characters and the landscape. However, it was an unsettling, uncomfortable book to read.
Barbara O. (Maryland Heights, MO)
A Magical Journey
"The Forgetting Tree" is Claire's story, at first, her happy successful life, then tragedy followed by numbness and illness. A page turner as you journey with Claire back to her youth and forward through great pain to peace. Vivid in it's scent and color and characters, this is a beautiful and magical story.
Paula K. (Cave Creek, AZ)
Despair Made Beautiful
There’s not much joy in this book, despite its opening celebration, a quinceañera, which I had to look up to learn that it is a sweet 15 party. The quinceañera is for the daughter of Octavio Mejia, the loyal manager of a ranch owned by Forster and Claire Baumsarg. We also meet the lemon tree that served as the source from which the thousands of trees were grafted to sustain the Baumsarg family for decades until the march of progress slowly ate away at the neighboring ranches leaving only theirs remaining. It’s ironic that the book opens with the celebration of a young girl entering womanhood as it leads to the first chapter and the kidnapping of Claire’s son, Josh, who will never make that same rite of passage. This act changes Claire and her family forever. The book moves at a leisurely pace, forcing you to feel their loss and filled with lush descriptions of ranch and family life. It is the ranch that anchors Claire, first through the opening tragedy and later when she is diagnosed with breast cancer. You feel her despair as she swims aimlessly through each day, assisted by Minna, an exotic Haitian barrista, fired from her job at a local coffee shop only to be discovered by Claire’s daughter, Lucy, anxiously searching for a caretaker to help navigate Claire through the throes of cancer treatment. Minna is both enchanting and frightening, slowly captivating Claire with her elixirs and tales of her magical upbringing. The pacing and language are remarkable, as is the character development. I did feel that the chapters focusing on Minna’s history were a bit abrupt, with a tacked-on feel to the rest of the story. But they did help to make sense of some of her motivations and actions. The Forgetting Tree creates a beautiful melancholy, made visceral by words and descriptions and the very human-ness of the characters.
Bobbie D. (Boca Raton, FL)
Forgetting Tree Forgetable
Liked reading about a woman (Claire) who, in the course of her life went through love and family, to disease and loss of family and then toward survival. The woman, brought in to help,( Minna) ,interesting at first, became bizarre. Once the author did a flashback with Minna, the continuity of the book stopped! I wanted Claire back! Just too weird. Was glad to finally get back to the main character to see how her life would continue.
A lot of what I liked in the beginning, re: the lemon tree, faded away.
Mary W. (Millbury, MA)
The Forgetting Tree by Tatjana Soli
At this time I can say that I somewhat enjoyed this book, but I feel that after it is published and read by more and discussed by book groups, a good one for that, in my mind it will be a book that I recommend to be read. In other words it will grow on me. The writing was good, very descriptive of an orchard and the California landscape but the plot dragged in the middle and grew sparse at the end. It will cause discussion on the belief of magic, the physical healing of the body and the power of the mind.