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Lee M. (Creve Coeur, MO)
Mystery or Love Story?
“Claire did not believe in the evil of the world” are the warning first words from the author. Claire is faced with a dilemma when she is diagnosed with breast cancer and her hold on the land is at risk. Her family insists she sell, but Claire will not let go and then Minna arrives. Is she the savior as she appears to be?
Diana the Booklover (Shelbyville, TN)
Who Is She Really?
I expected to rate this book a 5 because I had loved Soli's first book. But this one is so filled with despair that, though it is "despair made beautiful," as another reviewer says, I found it hard to stick with at times. The writing is lovely--crystalline and haunting--and the plot is generally well-thought-out. My reaction may have been affected by my overall emotiional status when I read it, and it certainly deserves at least a 4 rating. But I was glad to have finished it, leaving me free to turn to something not involving a character as difficult and despair-filled as Minna/Marie/Maleva/Agatha; eetc.
Randi H. (Bronx, NY)
The Forgetting Tree
The Forgetting Tree was about one woman's life, highlighting most closely two major events in her life. For me, it was not a book that I could connect to. I did not ever feel like I really cared about the major characters. The one character about whom I would have liked to learn more, Octavio, was relegated to a minor role. The second half of the book especially stretched credibility, in my opinion. I would have a very hard time recommending this book, although I can see how book groups might read it, as there is certainly much that could be discussed.
Margaret M. (Chicago, IL)
It is an excellent read even though it is 400 pages. The saga of several generations keeps the readers interest. It well written and exciting.
Catharine L. (Petoskey)
This book would appeal to anyone interested in the genre of sagas and the love of land.
I give it 5 stars!
An amazing read. Grabs your attention from the first page. The death of 10 year old Joshua completely shatters the family and Claire, the mother, immerses herself in the family orange farm - shutting out her husband, two daughters, and friends.
Kathryn K. (Oceanside, CA)
A Page Turner!
When the girls are grown and gone, her husband remarried, Claire is diagnosed with breast cancer. Needing chemotherapy and radiation, she needs a caregiver, and Minna/Marie/Maleva becomes a part of Claire's world. The relationship that develops between vulnerable Claire and the sultry and seductive Caribbean woman is fascinating. Beautifully written, I enjoyed this book even more than her first novel, The Lotus Eaters.
I was so excited to learn that Tatjana Soli’s new book is about to be released. Her first novel, The Lotus Eaters, was my favorite read for 2010. Although very different, her second novel, The Forgetting Tree, proves she can create page-turners. It will be difficult to review the book without spoilers, but I will do my best. As I started reading, I hoped this wasn’t another story of family faces tragedy, family deals with tragedy, family moves on. But I prepared myself for a predictable, and disappointing read. But I failed to give Soli enough credit. About the time I was going to put the book down, she suddenly got my attention. Bit by bit, Soli caught me and it was a pulse pounding, riveting read until the end. A wonderful story teller, and a equally good writer, Soli wrapped it all up, leaving no loose ends. Having said this, it wasn’t my favorite book, but it could very easily be yours!
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."
Paula K. (Cave Creek, AZ)
Despair Made Beautiful
The book was well-written with excellent descriptions of the characters and the landscape. However, it was an unsettling, uncomfortable book to read.
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.