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The Forest Paperback – March 1, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; Reprint edition (March 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 034547936X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345479365
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (170 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #607,089 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

With such novels as Sarum and Russka, Edward Rutherfurd has laid claim to James Michener's longtime turf: the immensely researched, meticulously detailed epic of place, in which the characters tend to play second fiddle to the setting. The Forest is the most ambitious example yet of Rutherfurd's art. This time the location is that bosky patch of English real estate known as the New Forest. Other writers have tackled the area before. But The Forest is surely the definitive chronicle, with all the local stories, legends, and apocrypha woven into an irresistible narrative--think of Thomas Hardy's power and drama filtered through a very modern sensibility.

Opening with the assassination of King William II in 1099, the book covers nearly a millennium's worth of history. Rutherfurd creates generation after generation of adroitly realized characters, the best of whom defy our generic expectations: the canny Brother Adam, for example, is that rarest of literary creatures, a virtuous man who doesn't end up being simply bland and anodyne. Rutherfurd may be at his best when dealing with big-canvas events like the bloody Monmouth Rebellion of 1685. But he's no slouch at detailing more microcosmic conflicts, like this head-butting contest between two buck deer:

Her buck had hit firmer ground and his feet suddenly got a purchase on the grass. His hindquarters shivering, he dug in. She saw the shoulders rise and his neck bear down. And now the interloper was slipping on the wet leaves. Slowly, cautiously, their antlers locked, the two straining bucks began to turn. Now they were both on grass. Suddenly the interloper disengaged. He gave his head a twist. The jagged spike was aiming at the buck's eye.
Bestial behavior? Perhaps. Yet the level of human folly and brutality scattered throughout The Forest makes the foregoing passage resemble an outtake from Bambi--and gives this sylvan saga a very memorable edge. --Barry Forshaw --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

As he did most recently--and with greater success--in London (LJ 6/15/97), Rutherfurd offers a sweeping picture of an area of England by focusing on a few families who lived there. This time he concentrates on the New Forest, part of the southern coast of England bounded by the English Channel. Rutherfurd traces the lives of peasants, smugglers, churchmen, woodsmen, and upper-class families from the 11th to the 20th centuries. These assorted men and women take part in the events surrounding the death of King Rufus (William the Conqueror's son), the failure of the Spanish Armada, England's Civil War, and more. Rutherfurd has always used his characters more as placeholders in history than as living human beings, but those in The Forest are particularly one-dimensional. That, plus the annoyingly Michener-like didactic tone of the narrative, makes this a hard book to recommend, even for fans of Rutherfurd. Still, readers looking for a fictional overview of English history will find it here in spades. Think of it as a Cliffs Notes with much heft.
-Nancy Pearl, Washington Ctr. for the Book, Seattle
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

The stories are very well imagined and well written.
Elisabeth Azar
Had a very hard time getting through this book, It seemed as though so much of it was detailed about the forest and not the characters.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes Rutherfurd's work or is interested in a historical fiction/saga-like epic.
RSO Kent

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

56 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Feneesna on May 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
A novel that spans a period of 1000 years in a small region of England? The premise sounded original and I was willing to rely on my love of history carrying me through. And you know what? I got more that I expected out of this book.
Having not read any other titles by Rutherfurd, I had no previous experience of his style and though curiosity led me at first, I was soon hooked.
Following the fortunes of six families through the years, most notably the Albions, Rutherfurd not only relates a series of great stories, he also tells the history and politics of England's New Forest, and the life of its deer and famous oaks.
The characterisation is strong, both heros and heroines are well drawn, from the Norman noblewoman Adela de la Roche to the mysterious Puckle and his many equally mysterious descendents.
All in all, a pretty damn good book. The chapter 'Albion Park' left me with a craving for Jane Austen again and as a whole leaving me with a strong inclination to read some more of Edward Rutherfurd's work some time soon.
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73 of 76 people found the following review helpful By L. Alper on May 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Edward Rutherfurd specialises in "Michener"-style books. Even tho he did not originate this type of novel, I personally feel he is the best at writing them for 2 reasons: 1) Instead of dealing with a very large area (Hawaii, South Africa, etc) as Michener does, Rutherfurd picks a small geographical area such as London or England's New Forest. This makes the focus of the story more manageable. 2) Rutherfurd is much better at characterisation & plot developement than Michener.
"The Forest" is Rutherfurd's latest 1000 year geographical epic, & altho not his best work, is eminently readable. Unlike his previous (& better) work, "London", "The Forest" deals with an area few people outside of the UK will be familiar with. This of course means the historical events he fictionalises will also be unfamiliar to the average American reader, thus adding some freshness to tales of Cavaliers vs. Roundheads, peasants relating to their feudal lords etc. In the chapter entitled "Albion Park" Rutherfurd even tries to adapt Jane Austen's "Pride & Prejudice" to his multi-generational narrative!
Does it work? For the most part, yes. Rutherfurd's novels are an excellent way for a reader to get a handle on history, & he makes large events personal to the reader. My main problem with his writings is his tendency to make family members thru the generations have the same appearance & mannerisms over hundreds of years. They never seem to inherit anything from their mothers; a Furzey is a Furzey whether in the 11th or the 19th century. This seems especially strange in "The Forest" as he has the same families marrying each other for the entire book without ever starting to share characteristics!
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By BME on May 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Well, Edward Rutherfurd has done it again! Somehow, he is able to take an area of land and give us a history lesson about it--without boring us to death. He also has an incredible talent for covering a large span of time, yet he is still able to be detailed in his telling and make us care about his characters. "The Forest" is no exception. He teaches us English history while giving us stories that intertwine throughout the timeline. We learn the background of both obscure and well-known relics, and are shown ways that people earned their surnames. One of the things I really appreciate about this author is that he's realistic--sometimes the good guys don't win, and every once in a while, a bad guy gets away with an evil deed. Be sure though, that in Rutherfurd's books, the ancestors will pay! If you liked "Sarum" and "London," be sure that you won't be disappointed with this one. I don't often buy hardback books, but I was confident that Edward Rutherfurd wouldn't let me down, and he didn't.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I've read all Rutherford's books, starting with the wonderful "Sarum" and "Russka," then "London" (which seemed to me to be interesting but slightly stale) and, now, "The Forest." I suspect he's written too much, too quickly, because he uses the identical plot devices for each of his novels but the originalty of his stories is now beginning to suffer.
In each case, you start WAAAAAY back when in history (usually Stone Age) and work your way up to the present through a series of interesting vignettes or snapshots of human-interest stories set periodically through the history of the specific place. James Michener, of course, perfected this technique, and Rutherford is never less than interesting in his version. But ...somehow, by "The Forest," it just didn't seem to me that he had that much to say. The book felt repetitive, as if I was simply reading rifs on his earlier English books. Oh, yeah, another Norman-vs-Saxon episode, another Augustan Age seque, etc.
Don't get me wrong, I'm sure you'll enjoy this book if you've never read him before, but I'd certainly recommend any of his earlier works ahead of this one. He feels, somehow, like he's gone formula on us.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Busy Mom VINE VOICE on January 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The Forest is a rich, vivid historical read ~~ with fiction intertwined with history of England's most lush forest. If you are a history buff, this book is a good read. It seems long but unlike "London", this book didn't drag in some places. Keeping track of the families were easier this time for some reason. Maybe it's because after reading all of his books, you tend to get an idea of how he writes.
In my opinion, Rutherford gets better with every book, though "Russka" is still my favorite Rutherford book. Rutherford goes out of his way to find the little historical facts as well as the well-known ones. The characters are vividly drawn in their periods of time. The scenery is terrific ~~ the whole time I was reading this, it was below zero outside and all I could think of was hiding in the woods in the middle of summer to feel the breeze going through the treetops.
If you are looking for a long read during these cold winter nights, this book is a great bet. Just grab your glass of wine, a blanket and light the logs in your fireplace and settle down for a nice winter read. It's worth it.
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More About the Author

Edward Rutherfurd was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, and educated at Cambridge University and Stanford University in California. His first book, Sarum was based on the history of Salisbury. London, Russka,The Forest, Dublin and Ireland Awakening all draw on finely researched details of social history. Edward Rutherford has spent much of the last 30 years living in New York and Conneticut. He has an American wife and two American educated children and has served on a New York co-op board.

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