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The Plum Tree
A deeply moving and masterfully written story of human resilience and enduring...
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Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

Created: 11/26/12

Replies: 28

Posted Nov. 26, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
BookBrowse

Join Date: 11/16/10

Posts: 43

Overall, what did you think of "The Plum Tree"?

Overall, what did you think of "The Plum Tree"?


Posted Jan. 21, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
jacquelynh

Join Date: 06/14/11

Posts: 34

RE: Overall, what did you think of

This book was fascinating. I've read many books on events during WWII and this one was unique. Some perspectives the German people had were surprising. The concentration camp portion was most interesting also portraying instances of adverse behavior on each side. These complexities of behavior were surprising and thought provoking showing that decisions of what is good and what is bad isn't as simple as it seems when life stands in the balance.


Posted Jan. 21, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
laurap

Join Date: 06/19/12

Posts: 68

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RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

I wish there were more questions that asked us to comment on the writing in a book, as opposed to the content. This is the only one that seems to allow that, so I will use it for that purpose. While I got quite involved in the story of the book, I felt there were some weaknesses in the writing. I felt too much space was given to description of the physical territory in which the story took place. There was so much scene-setting at the beginning that I had a hard time getting into the story. I would rather have known more about the relationship between Isaac and Christine and how it developed and less about the flowers, trees, and chickens. Wiseman's habit of using German phrases and then immediately defining them was sometimes annoying. I'd rather just have read the English.I felt like sometimes the wrong things received the bulk of the attention - the imagery of the plum tree, for instance, got lost in the surrounding detail. On the other hand, the story of Dachau seemed quite well-developed, and I liked that. I think a better job of editing would have helped the book immensely.


Posted Jan. 21, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
bjm

Join Date: 10/19/12

Posts: 22

RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

I loved this book and was sad when it was over...as I wanted it to go on forever! It was well written, read like "butter" , and contained strong story lines and great character development. I loved the love story, but more than that, I , loved every other part of the book as well. The author was well informed on the topic at hand. I guarantee this book will be a BEST SELLER.


Posted Jan. 21, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
djn

Join Date: 05/19/11

Posts: 60

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Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

I enjoyed the book and have read many books from this time...rarely is there a book about what was happening to the Germans at the time..especially the concentration camps. I feel she did a good job of presenting problems of war no matter what side you were on...giving us time to reflect on the impact it has on each individual and the differences that each individual brings to each situation.


Posted Jan. 21, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
annar

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 31

RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

This book gave an inside look at a normal German family and how hard the War was on them. The shortage of food, the fear of the Gastapo, and the air raids made their life miserable. The love story between Christine and Issac was very believable. Also, I found the part of the story when Christine is in the concentration camp and was a cook and housekeeper for a German officer amazing. At least she did get some food! When I started reading this book, I couldn't put it down and read it in two days. It will be an excellent book for book groups to discuss. I would give it four stars.


Posted Jan. 21, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
kathleenr

Join Date: 12/07/12

Posts: 68

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RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

I found the use of the German words worked well to remind me that I was reading about people in Germany during WWII, not just France or England. However, the constant translations for words that are commonly used in English such as words for food or words that should be well known, such as dear, hello, good-bye, was distracting. I would suggest the use of footnotes when the words first appear and nothing thereafter. I thought the descriptions of the concentration camp and the people in the camp were very well done. The author did show the negative impact that the war itself had on the German people. However, I was disturbed by the way she seemed to characterize them as victims of the Allied armies. There is a large difference between societal guilt and individual guilt. The people who were in the Nazi party, the government officials, instituted policies that led to the extermination of millions of Jews as well as other people they deemed unacceptable, such as gypsies. However, the people in the party itself could not have carried this out without the help of many ordinary Germans. The book appeared to answer the question what could they have done with the word "nothing." I found that disturbing.


Posted Jan. 21, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
kathleenr

Join Date: 12/07/12

Posts: 68

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RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

I found the use of the German words worked well to remind me that I was reading about people in Germany during WWII, not just France or England. However, the constant translations for words that are commonly used in English such as words for food or words that should be well known, such as dear, hello, good-bye, was distracting. I would suggest the use of footnotes when the words first appear and nothing thereafter. I thought the descriptions of the concentration camp and the people in the camp were very well done. The author did show the negative impact that the war itself had on the German people. However, I was disturbed by the way she seemed to characterize them as victims of the Allied armies. There is a large difference between societal guilt and individual guilt. The people who were in the Nazi party, the government officials, instituted policies that led to the extermination of millions of Jews as well as other people they deemed unacceptable, such as gypsies. However, the people in the party itself could not have carried this out without the help of many ordinary Germans. The book appeared to answer the question what could they have done with the word "nothing." I found that disturbing.


Posted Jan. 21, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
jonnav

Join Date: 01/21/13

Posts: 9

RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

I enjoyed The Plum Tree. At first I thought that it was starting slow but realized that their lives were this way until the war came to their village. I loved the way the German language was interwoven in the writing (brought back some of my college german). Unfortunately, I read the question at the back of the book that indicated Issac survived...read this when I was about 7/8 through the book. I was looking forward to a book that didn't have a happy ever afterending. But since Marie died and Issacdid survive it wasn't all happiness...there was still much sadness in the ending.


Posted Jan. 21, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
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Santa Fe Cowgirl

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 26

RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

I found the book interesting, a good read. I thought the portrayal of Dachau was a little weak--the fact that Christine was not a Jew and she got a better "job" than the Jews---that did not always happen. That German citizens who did not agree with Nazi policy were summarily put in the camps with no back up or means of justice was awful. Of course I am looking at this with American eyes. German people living near the camps must have known what was going on, but I don't think the average German did. It seems weird to me that the Nazis managed to "pull the wool over people's eyes!" I am glad the Christine had the nerve to do what she did to Stefan. More people should have!!


Posted Jan. 21, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
dorothyt

Join Date: 04/10/11

Posts: 102

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RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

I loved the book and was really engrossed in the story. I have to agree with laurap about the descriptive passages: some of them were distracting, and I was tempted to skip over them to get on with the action. Some of the scenes, hiding Isaac in the attic, fleeing to the shelter during the bombing, were very suspenseful, and the romance was special, culminating in the re-appearance of Isaac. I liked having a view of the German people and their struggles from inside. The characters are well-drawn and believable.


Posted Jan. 21, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
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christy

Join Date: 05/22/12

Posts: 41

RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

Laurap and Dorothyt both remark about the author's storytelling vs. story crafting and this resonated with me as well throughout my reading of this book. Overall, I liked the story and the characters that populated the book but the way in which the tale was told was stiff (at times) and overly descriptive in a simplistic way. The notes with the author (at the end of the book) talk about how she had to 'cut down' so much of her written draft before it could be published that maybe it lost something in that process.


Posted Jan. 22, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
guntak

Join Date: 10/20/10

Posts: 20

RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

This kind of writing is necessary for the generations who have come after WW II, especially for the young of today who perceive that war as something of long ago and not having any relavancy to today. We must never forget what happened. Ellen Marie Wiseman has written a mesmerizing work to let us know what happened. Her understanding of the inner feelings of all characters in this book is amazing. Especially for a woman so young. In her book, through her characters she tells us of the suffereing of the German people. The abysmal lives and deaths of the Jews. The fear of her own family members. The tremendous courage of some of the characters in this book. And of course of the brutality of the SS, the Brown Shirts and the whole NAZI concept. Ellen Marie Wiseman is a powerful writer and am impatiently looking forward to her next work. This first novel was fabulous.


Posted Jan. 22, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
judyw

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 22

RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

A good first book for the author. As others have commented, parts of the book were too long and other parts, not complexed enough. It was most interesting to discover Ms. Wiseman's direct link to relatives who lived during this period of history in Germany. It was good to capture a German family's perspective. They, too, were often unaware of the horrific actions of Hitler's reign. I believe few young German women would have been as vocal and aggressive as Christine, but her ardor enhanced the story. The "Plum Tree" was powerful. The book should entice a younger generation to learn of the Holocaust and tragedies of war.


Posted Jan. 22, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
rebajane

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 138

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RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

I had mixed feelings about this book. There have been so many books written about this time in history, both fiction and non, some so well written, and some not so much. I can divide this book into three parts. The beginning was tiresome to me after awhile. There wasn't really anything new and I felt bogged down in description and fluff. The middle was much better; I admit to never really considering the Germans who were sent to concentration camps and I was pleased at the different perspective. This was also a good place for metaphors going from the stark concentration camp back to the real world must have been somewhat mind boggling. The end I didn't like at all. It felt as if the author had regrets about killing Isaac and so brought him back but it didn't make sense to me. Aiding the Americans made even less sense. But I really liked seeing a different perspective and liked the connection to the author's family


Posted Jan. 23, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
virginiab

Join Date: 08/11/11

Posts: 2

RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

I enjoyed the book a lot. I don't believe I have ever read a book about the Holocaust from this viewpoint. I though Christine and her family were extremely brave in how they survived the war andn with Christine in Dachau.


Posted Jan. 24, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
susann

Join Date: 04/28/11

Posts: 10

RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

The Plum Tree is a good effort on an important subject, but its defects cause it to fall short of its presumed goal, namely to depict life as an ordinary German during and after World War II. The circumstances were dramatic enough, and don’t require the additional melodrama provided by the author to tell the story (no examples given so as to avoid plot spoilers). The dialogue is stilted (a young man to his girlfriend: “When we’re together, we’ll only see each other, not the ugliness around us.” A concentration camp commander to an inmate: “There are men here who have been turned by the evil that surrounds them. Their hearts have been plowed open to reveal the rotten soil of their souls.”). There are annoying and distracting stylistic affectations, such as every “yes” and “no” in dialogue being written as “ja” or “nein” and italicized (to remind us that the characters are really speaking German, not English?). The characters are one-dimensional; the good ones are noble, the bad ones are evil, and there is no one in between. Historical facts are very significantly altered; Dachau was undoubtedly a horrible place, but it was NOT an extermination camp with gas chambers and ovens. A reader who wants to learn about the lives of German civilians during this time period would do much better to choose Ursula Hegi’s Stones from the River.


Posted Jan. 24, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
carolyna

Join Date: 08/14/11

Posts: 26

RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

When I finished reading PLUM TREE I thought it was a book I would give to my granddaughter(14 years old) to read. I agree with "guntak" that it is for the generations after WWll. Writing the story through the voice of Christine, her descriptions, the pace of her story line allows the reader to slowly put their imagination, while reading, into the lives of the people who make up the village of Christine and Isaac. There was love and hate, beauty and ugly, fear and joy, honesty and deception for everyone in this small town. Ms Wiseman describes how families lived their lives, daily, during a terrible war, a war that changed their lives overnight.


Posted Jan. 26, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
dorisk

Join Date: 10/20/10

Posts: 14

RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

A wonderful book that shows what the German people experienced during WWII. I was a young child at that time and thought the Germans were terrible people. I lived in a small rural area and didn't know anyone of German nationality ( at least I wasn't aware of it). This shows that we are all the same and often dictated by the government under which we live. Propaganda during WWII was very persuasisve even in the USA. As an adult I learned more but a book like this would have been a real "eye-opener".


Posted Jan. 27, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
swchis39

Join Date: 09/26/12

Posts: 26

RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

I enjoyed the book and contrary to other reviewers was not bothered by the dept of descriptions of the physical environment. I was able to envision what the area looked like. While I have read many books on the holocaust and find this is the first one that depicted what the Germans had to endure. People always wonder why more Germans didn't speak out and Ihis book sheds some insight on this.


Posted Jan. 27, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
susanr

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 85

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RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

I thought that parts of the book were very good and parts were very unrealistic. It was intersting to read what a German family was going through during the war - they were going without food and spending time in bomb shelters through no fault of their own. I really had a problem with Christine hiding Isaac in the attic. She put her entire family at risk because of her love for Isaac. Plus, I thought that the ending was a little too neat and pretty.


Posted Jan. 27, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
dorothyt

Join Date: 04/10/11

Posts: 102

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RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

I find it interesting that several who have posted here have mentioned not having before read a book on the Holocaust from the point of view of a German family, when just last September we discussed "The Baker's Daughter" by Sarah McCoy. I recommend it for those who want another story about this.


Posted Jan. 30, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
jacquelines

Join Date: 04/16/12

Posts: 6

RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

I really liked this story and read this book very quickly. I like the descriptions in the beginning that really set the place and time before moving into the horrors of the war. This is one of the few stories I have ever seen that addresses the German people that did not want the war, did not follow Hitler, and who suffered as much as any other victim of the time. (I did not read The Baker's Daughter.) I cared about this family and their village. The author did a good job of moving the story along, including so much description for every part of the storyline that at times I did feel I could see what she was trying to show the reader. Although the family suffered losses (Grandfather and sister), I was glad to have the happy ending of the heroin and her love being not only reunited, but helping to bring justice and reconstruction to their country. This first time author did an excellent job and I will look forward to future novels from her.


Posted Jan. 30, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
sharonw

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 6

RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

I have always enjoyed books about this time period. This one did not disappoint!


Posted Feb. 01, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
jeanettel

Join Date: 01/05/12

Posts: 29

RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

This book as many others before returns us to one of the most frightening moments in history towards the end of World War II, it may seem incredible that our way of life, was threatened by the menace that Hitler and the Third Reich represented. It makes us participants of the everyday life of a German family living under the terror of that time. I read this book very quickly stopping only to dry my tears several times. Great book.


Posted Feb. 01, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
elroo

Join Date: 02/01/13

Posts: 1

RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

Strong story. Excellent depiction of typical German family during WW II. Thought the book was a slow start and the dialogue -- especially between Christine and Isaac -- was weak and lacking in real emotion. Didn't expect some of the twists and turns in the story.


Posted Feb. 02, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
lynnw

Join Date: 09/01/11

Posts: 53

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RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

I enjoyed the book, but found parts of it similar to other books of this genre. I suppose that any story of Nazi Germany contains looks into the cruelty that existed and how many normal people were just trying to survive and do the best they could. When Isaac was discovered in the attic and he and Christine were arrested, it was just a bit unrealistic how everything unfolded. I did like the ending of the book. It was a nice twist and I almost always love the happy ending.


Posted Feb. 02, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
patm

Join Date: 12/05/12

Posts: 11

RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

A thoughtful story, with flesh and blood characters told from the perspective of a German family living and surviving in Nazi Germany. The oldest daughter, Christine, does what she can for her family to hold them together, but her heart rules her common sense. It is great love story that will remain with me for a long time. I highly recommend this book.


Posted Feb. 18, 2013 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
mariannes

Join Date: 12/17/12

Posts: 155

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RE: Overall, what did you think of The Plum Tree?

I liked this book. I liked all the description, especially of life before the war. It made the place and time come alive for me, and I still have vivid impressions from the book. One problem I did have, however, was the relationship between Isaac and Christine. It seemed like they were suddenly madly in love without really knowing each other. I also thought Isaac's survival was unrealistic. It felt like the author tricked the readers by building up Isaac's supposed death so much.


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