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The Forgetting Tree: A Novel Hardcover – September 4, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


“Daring... haunting... A remote citrus ranch can be a crossroads where cultures collide, and those collisions can be life-changing for everyone involved.” ―Jane Smiley, New York Times Book Review

“The story here is complex and expansive, and Soli's prose is reminiscent of Eudora Welty's. Like that writer, Soli's sentences are tied to the land, and the effect is that as much as this is a story about people, it is also a story about place and the imprint that each makes on the other.” ―The Daily Beast

“A lush, haunting novel for readers who appreciate ambiguity, this work should establish Soli as a novelist with depth and broad scope.” ―Library Journal

“Soli has again created characters readers will love and care about. She does so with deceptively simple grace: Their yearnings breeze right into your life... The Forgetting Tree is a journey worth taking.” ―Book Page

“A lush novel with two fascinating, complicated characters at its heart.” ―Booklist

“Soli, who made a splash with her debut, The Lotus Eaters, will captivate readers again with this twisting, intriguing tale of a grieving California woman…With her knack for beautiful prose and striking detail, this is a solid follow-up to her debut.” ―Publishers Weekly

“A haunting debut novel . . . quietly mesmerizing.” ―Janet Maslin, The New York Times

“A devastatingly awesome novel. It's one of those books that I didn't want to put down.” ―Nancy Pearl, NPR

“Splendid.” ―Danielle Trussoni, The New York Times Book Review

“Soli writes with such passion, it is inescapable, lyrical, and profoundly moving. The Forgetting Tree goes on my top-ten list.” ―Jonis Agee, author of The River Wife

“Tatjana Soli's elegant and sensuous prose will keep you spellbound.” ―Maria Semple, author of This One Is Mine

“An incredible book, richly imagined and beautifully written.” ―Nancy Zafris, series editor, The Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction

“Spare, lucid prose infuse this novel with a dramatic clarity.” ―Tim O'Brien, author of The Things They Carried

“Beautiful and harrowing . . . [the] characters are unforgettable.” ―Richard Russo, author of Empire Falls

“Tremendously evocative…A beautiful book.” ―Janice Y. K. Lee, author of The Piano Teacher

About the Author

TATJANA SOLI lives with her husband in Southern California. Her New York Times bestselling debut novel, The Lotus Eaters, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, a New York Times Notable Book, and won the 2011 James Tait Black Prize.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1 edition (September 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1250001048
  • ISBN-13: 978-1250001047
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,226,554 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tatjana Soli is a novelist and short story writer. Her bestselling debut novel, The Lotus Eaters, winner of the James Tait Black Prize, was a New York Times Notable Book for 2010, and finalist for the LA Times Book Award among other honors. Her second book, The Forgetting Tree, is a New York Times Notable Book for 2012. Her stories have appeared in Zyzzyva, Boulevard, and The Sun. Her work has been twice listed in the 100 Distinguished Stories in Best American Short Stories. She lives with her husband in Southern California.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Someone Else on July 27, 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
THE FORGETTING TREE begins with a tragic loss and ends with a long-delayed renewal. The bulk of the novel deals with what happens in between these two events, showing the gradual changes that become the impetus for a dramatic rebirth of sorts.

The loss of ten-year-old Joshua leads to the eventual dissolution of the Baumsarg family. The mother Claire is left living alone in the family home on their California citrus farm. Her ex-husband Forster has found someone new, and daughters Gwen and Lucy can't stand to be on that isolated farm with their mother and her painful memories.

Years later, breast cancer treatments require that a caregiver be found for Claire. Enter Minna, a young woman of dubious motives and questionable background. Here is where the story began to break down for me in terms of both interest and plausibility. I could not buy that Claire would just hire this girl Lucy found at a Starbucks, with no references or background checks.

If Claire's tragedies and illness left her feeling frail and vulnerable, she would be LESS trusting of strangers, not more so, especially given the fact that she would be alone with this person in a remote location. And if Claire did act too hastily in hiring Minna, she would have quickly rectified her mistake when she and her neighbors compared notes and found that Minna's stories didn't add up.

The premise we're meant to accept is that Claire is so needy and Minna is so exotic and interesting that Claire is just besotted, willing to let Minna call the shots, even when the house is disintegrating around them. It just didn't work for me. I can't say much more about it for fear of spoilers.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Margaret on September 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Tatjana Soli's The Lotus Eaters was the best debut novel I'd read in ages. It was hard to imagine she could outdo it, and I'll confess I approached The Forgetting Tree with trepidation. But this story of Claire Baumsarg, the complicated matriarch of a California ranching family, and Minna, the enigmatic young woman who comes to take care of Claire as she battles cancer, is amazing. It's clearly a Tatjana Soli book--the gorgeous language, the plumbing of complex characters in challenging circumstances--but it is also a departure from The Lotus Eaters. It's set in contemporary California peacetime rather than 1970s Vietnam War, and it includes a larger cast of characters, and in some ways more complicated emotions. The character of Minna is one of the most fascinating I have ever read. I loved this book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Bonnie on September 17, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"She felt like a yogi deep in the forest, meditating on the heart of the universe, hidden and yet connected with everything." The fictional work this novel most reminded me of, mood wise, was the 1979 film Apocalypse Now. Not due to violence, but due to its darkly brooding, somewhat realistic, somewhat fairy tale-like, story that slowly gathers its characters in and carries them inwardly downriver to what may be horror or may be toward greater light and redemption. The journey getting there is both the mystery and the delight.

The Forgetting Tree beautifully examines what happens when life is stripped down to its essence, when cultures grapple with issues of trust, when your foundations are lost. It's murky, sensuous and fun all at the same time and the fact of it being set in the ordinary world of the California citrus industry - family owned ranches selling out to land developers, grafting, tule fog, irrigation systems - makes it even more wonderful. While I couldn't help but hope this novel would be as good as The Lotus Eaters I found it to be more mature, at times jagged, sometimes better. A truly original myth for a modern world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By jon moyle on September 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
i have rarely disliked a book as much as "The Forgetting Tree". Claire has to be the most addled main character I've come across. Her reactions to her circumstances are neither believable nor realistic. This book might have flown on Oprah or as a bodice ripper but, ugh!, how did this novel make people's best book of the year lists? Also, ALL the male characters are cardboard.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By steveka on February 7, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Lotus Eaters was one of my favorite books. I gave it five stars. I didn't want it to end. So, I went into this book with high hopes, only to be bored out of my mind. Nothing really happens. It is wildly different from the excitement of The Lotus Eaters. I'm very disappointed. Reading this book was as fun as watching paint peel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Landes on July 31, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I picked up The Forgetting Tree after seeing it appear on the 2012 NY Times Notable Books list. I am super glad I did as it was an excellent book. Incredibly well written and the story moved at a very fast pace. I have not read The Lotus Eaters but I have heard that is equally good. The book itself is about a woman named Claire who is married to a guy named Forster and they own a far that has been in his family for many years. The farm is starting to lose traction and not produce as much but they are stubborn--they want to keep it going along with the numerous workers they employ. They divorce and eventually not only does the farm start going downhill but Claire does as well as he contracts cancer and has to get treatment. Her two girls determine that she needs full time help to take care of her and they hire Minna who is what can only be described as a totally different woman who brings both chaos and order to Claire's life and the farm. Probably in most cases more chaos than anything. The book takes a detour to talk about Minna's life growing up in the Caribbean under terrible conditions as alternately a slave or maid. A very good book that really spends a lot of time delving deep into the lives of the characters involved and great read.
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