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Love this author
This was the ideal book for me at a time when I am recovering from a serious illness and hospital stay. A truly complex novel that can be read in many ways, with an extremely strong woman character who pushes things to the limits and beyond. What it means to love the land, family, strengths and ties, to fight for what one believes in and to not give in just because others believe one should. Soli takes this woman, her motivations and tears them down than rebuilding them into a new form. A serious tragedy almost costs this woman her sanity, costs her family much more and only the land, the citrus groves, the belonging to something bigger than herself saves her that time. Than a serious illness threatens once again all she holds dear and this novel takes a bizarre and strange turn. A woman comes to be a companion and caretaker as she fights the invader to her body and the novel shows us the power of letting go. As the groves rot from the outside, the situation with the young woman from Haiti turns serious and quite scary. Are these woman really demented or is there some sense in the way they feel? What can possibly be the outcome of this strange pairing? Why is her family not stepping in and taking over? So many questions, so complex the problems and yet how satisfying, though strange this original and powerful book.
The Forgetting Tree was majestic, monumental, and magical!! An incredibly complex story with well-developed characters, the story basically focuses on two women: Claire, a white-woman dealing with cancer, and Minna, a black-woman who is Claire’s caretaker.
Mary Q. (Greeley, CO)
The Forgetting Tree
Claire met and fell in love with Forster Baumsarg who owned a large citrus farm in California. Claire gave up her literary studies to marry him she was so enamoured. Early on in the story, Claire must deal with every mother’s nightmare – coping with the death of a child. Her young son, Joshua, is found dead near a lemon tree. Claire, already struggling with her loss ends up having to fight breast cancer and keep her family’s citrus farm together regardless of the financial or emotional toll.
Minna, makes for an interesting character. Originally from the Caribbean and having suffered through a rather rough life, she ends up in California. She meets one of Claire’s daughters in Starbucks one day and is hired as her caretaker while fighting breast cancer.
Minna tells Claire that she is the great-granddaughter of author, Jean Rhys, who wrote ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’, a prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s famous Jane Eyre, focusing on the “crazy woman in the attic.” Minna herself reminds you of that “crazy woman in the attic.” Minna quickly gains Claire’s trust and is soon mixing up elixirs and other concoctions and potions for her to drink as part of her cancer cure. The two women are both damaged but Claire continues to allow Minna to call all the shots.
I can’t get into too much more about this story without creating serious spoilers but this is simply a book you MUST read.
The Forgetting Tree was masterfully and skillfully written and kept me turning pages late into the night. I haven’t read Soli’s first novel ‘The Lotus Eaters’ but will be doing so now.
I was immediately drawn to this book because of its gorgeous cover and the fact that I'd read and loved Tatjana Soli's other novel, The Lotus Eaters. This one I liked slightly less, but it generally kept my interest and educated me in various ways. At certain moments I felt frustrated with the time frames abruptly going back and forth -- I didn't feel a good flow as a result. But it was an interesting story with well-defined characters, and Tatjana Soli writes SO well. All in all, I'm glad I read this book and will recommend it to my friends who enjoy the types of books I do.
Gwendolyn D. (Houston, TX)
Lyrical family epic
I really enjoyed reading about this farming family, particularly the strong matriarch. The first part of the novel was entertaining and heartbreaking. The last third of the book takes a dark turn that I wasn't expecting. Overall, I enjoyed the experience, but the last third was a little tough to get through for me.
Martha D. (Poway, CA)
I'm still not sure...
...what I felt about this story. I was both fascinated and frustrated by Claire and her dedication to her land. I did find both Claire and Minna's story in the second half of the book, as another reviewer said, "haunting" and rather "spooky". And the end left me with many questions, which is not always a bad thing. I am still thinking about it so that says something about the story.
Mary H. (Phoenix, AZ)
An unpredictable personal influence.
This story takes the reader on a journey that tests the origins of our faith and belief in a positive future. How much mental and physical stress can a person endure and still display hope. The magic of personal belief and the ability to demonstrate an understanding of what is truly important in one's life. Family, physical possessions, health, wealth, memories and trust build this complex story. You will not be disappointed and you may even gain a new perspective on your own life. The book is most enjoyable.
Edie M. (Kennett Square, PA)
The Forgetting Tree
This novel was disappointing to me in a few ways. I never had the "OMG I can't put this down" feeling that I always love in a book. I did persevere though and did find a connection with Claire. I never could bond with any of the other charters until the very end when it all came together.
Judi S. (Boyes Hot Springs, CA)
The Forgetting Tree
While I liked the tone and gradual build up of tension in this book, I was very frustrated by the inconsistency of some of the characters, Claire in particular. In the first half of the story we hear the history of the Baumsarg ranch and Claire's single-minded focus on making the business profitable and keeping the ranch in the family. Even after tragedy strikes she still chooses to value the land more than her family and winds up alone rather then leave the ranch with her daughters and husband.
The second half of the book is completely out of character for the Claire we have come to know. She allows Minna (a virtual stranger) to jeopardize the ranch (after we've been led to believe that she will sacrifice EVERYTHING in her life to protect it).
It just didn't feel as though Soli knew who she wanted Claire to be and the result for me was that I neither found her or her actions the least bit believable.
This would possibly make a good book-club disscussion though. I know my group would dig right into the debate over loyalty to place vs. loyalty to people.