Review: The Forest by Edward Rutherfurd

fromthestashFrom the Stash is just my way to denote when something is from before I had the blog. I have been reviewing books since January 2010 so I’d like to showcase some of that past work.

theforestThe Forest by Edward Rutherfurd

Published: July 3rd 2001 by Ballantine Books
Format/Source: Paperback Personally Owned
Genre: Historical Fiction
Originally Reviewed: April 15, 2010

Back Cover:

“AS ENTERTAINING AS SARUM AND RUTHERFURD’S OTHER SWEEPING NOVEL OF BRITISH HISTORY, LONDON.”
–The Boston Globe


“Engaging . . . A sprawling tome that combines fact with fiction and covers 900 years in the history of New Forest, a 100,000-acre woodland in southern England . . . Rutherfurd sketches the histories of six fictional families, ranging from aristocrats to peasants, who have lived in the forest for generations. . . . But the real success is in how Rutherfurd paints his picture of the wooded enclave with images of treachery and violence, as well as magic and beauty.”
–The New York Post

THE FOREST IS MICHENER TOLD WITH AN ENGLISH ACCENT.”
–St. Louis Post-Dispatch

“TALES OF LOVE AND HONOR, DECEIT AND VIOLENCE, INHERITANCE AND LOSS.”
–San Jose Mercury News

Review:

Set in southern England’s New Forest, The Forest traces the lives of people from different Forest families throughout 1000 years. Each section of the book encounters a new time period with a new generation of people, who are the descendants of those from previous sections. Armed with a map and a family tree in the front of the book, it illustrates how history can be forgotten by following generations, but also each little mark we make in the world can be lasting.

I really enjoyed this book. It was very nice to see how your favorite characters from a previous section still had a part to play indirectly in the current section. Sections would jump from a story of Normans and Saxons coexisting in 1099, to 1294 with a monastery with monks who have to make decisions, to a story about fathers, sons and the sea in 1480, to the effect of the Spanish threat in 1587, to 1635 with the English Civil War and its tragic effect on families, to a story about dealing with past demons and love in 1794, to the transformation of the forest due to the Industrial Revolution in 1868. The entire story was framed by a woman in 2000 looking for a news story and finding her roots.

One aspect I also liked about this story was how Rutherfurd alluded to events and details that were left to be explained until further in the text. With the family tree in the front, while helpful, it became tempting to just look at it to see if someone ends up having a kid or who they end up marrying. But with details alluded to but left as mini cliffhangers, it made it a very a compelling read. He managed to tell an event through the eyes of everyone involved to allow the reader a 360 degree understanding of the book.

My only complaint is that it was so very long that it sometimes became tedious to read. I blame that on the length of books I’m used to reading though, so I will not count that against the book. At points, the writing was very description heavy and it was difficult to read through it all to eventually get to the action of the story.

Overall, a wonderful historic and compelling read that I would recommend to any history lover or someone who simply enjoys a more intricate story.

My rating: 5/5

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