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The Endless Forest: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, January 19, 2010
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
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From Publishers Weekly
Say good-bye to Elizabeth Bonner and her brood with this graceful, sweeping conclusion to Donati's frontier-era Wilderness series (following Fire Along the Sky), focusing mostly on returning characters Martha, Callie, Daniel Bonner and Ethan Bonner, and their perpetual adversary, Jemima Southern, as close to a witch as [the town] had ever come. In 1824, troublemaker Jemima returns to rural Paradise, N.Y., and Bonner men Ethan and Daniel realize the only way to save the property of their friends Callie and Martha is to marry them, arrangements born of necessity that quickly become stronger than anyone expected. Before leaving for good, however, Jemima surprises the people of Paradise by revealing the secrets that they've kept from each other. Donati will satisfy and, in some cases, delight her longtime readers by wrapping up nearly every story line, confidently tracking a huge cast and their individual conflicts. Those new to Donati's work would be better served starting at the beginning of the series with Into theWilderness—it's nearly impossible to pick up at this point—but any reader will be won over, sooner or later, by Donati's affection for her tough, complex characters. (Jan.)
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“Magnificent . . . [a] sweeping saga . . . highly recommended.”—The Historical Novels Review
“A splendidly drawn cast of characters.”—The Seattle Times
“Graceful, sweeping.”—Publishers Weekly
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
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Obviously this was a book of closure. Discovering where everyone has been, and all the Bonner family (and various "wards") whom have been away etc. coming home to Paradise to heal and mend or just to renew. New marriages...more births...and of course inevitable deaths. The continuing drama with Jemima Southern, natural disasters, secrets and murder mysteries. This final story sums up the Saga nicely although I still had unanswered questions about Ethan Middleton. (how did Jemima come to her information?)
It was so hard to let Nathaniel, the Bonner men and these strong women go. I became so emotionally invested with this Saga..(but of course!) and I love them all... I wanted to start the whole series over again as soon as I finished. But Mr. James A. Michener sums up my feelings perfectly when he wrote:
- - "When I approach the closing pages of a great novel, a feeling of profound regret comes over me, for I realize I am about to sever a relationship with characters I have grown to love. And to abandon a corner of the world in which I have spent rewarding weeks, months and even years, for I read slowly and carefully. I feel, when the pages dwindle, as if something good were being stolen from me, something precious that would not be replaced. You may laugh at what I say next, but when I realize how few pages are left I ration myself, only so many each day, and when the final one looms, and I close the book, I stare at the back map for many minutes, aware that something precious has touched my life." - - James Michener
Thank you Ms. Donati for a fabulous, heart warming Saga!
So, during the past week, I have completed the series and must say that some of the primary characters in these novels are great and you just want to keep reading because the people have become so real to you. Throughout the series, some questions are never completely answered - at least not to my satisfaction. There are often scenes that are simply looked back upon with very little detail about the happenings.
This book does answer a few of the questions, yet it was still quite a let-down. So much time was spent on Jemima Wilde and the concerns of the Bonner Family related to her evil nature that it came close to ruining the book for me. Couldn't the author have had Nathaniel push her over a cliff or something? I would have preferred learning a little bit about what made Ethan tick - the series never explored his character in depth, except for his penchant for building. Or, how about some details about Gabriel and his romance with Annie? Or even, some romantic interludes between Hannah and sexy Ben. Basically zilch, zero, nada! Even letting Lily up off her couch might have helped this book along.
Yes, some loose ends were tied up and it was great to have the joy of Daniel's and Martha's relationship detailed. Additionally, Birdie was a great little character and so much fun, she deserves a series all her own.
I agree with some other reviewers who thought the epilogue as it was written was a wrong move. I would have been happier thinking about all the Bonners (or, if you prefer - "Bonner's" as they were so often referred to when used in the plural sense - wrong! Someone needed additional assistance in editing through much of this series) as they were at the end of the book, without an epilogue that shows when and where many of the characters died. Suggestion: if you read the book, skip the epilogue.
Opening with a springtime flood that manages to devastate Paradise both physically and spiritually, The Endless Forest brings daughter Lily home in hopes of beginning her own family. Her twin Daniel, still affected by his disabling accident years earlier, keeps to himself until the arrival of young Martha Kirby sparks a reawakening. When town nemesis (and Martha’s mother) Jemima Kuick returns, old wounds resurface that force the hand of not just Daniel and Martha, but also other Bonners and townspeople. Jemima’s still out for blood, and the family must draw together in order to keep what’s rightfully theirs.
All the characters we’ve grown to know and love are present: Nathaniel and Elizabeth, now grandparents, are still lovingly guiding their families; Hannah, Luke, and Gabriel are raising children along with their spouses; and Curiosity is still dispensing advice. Most delightful is the presence of Birdie, youngest child of Nathaniel and Elizabeth, who manages to insert herself in the thick of things and always has an opinion to share.
Donati supplies us with an epilogue that lets us know what happens next in the lives of the Bonner clan. I will miss these stories, and yet I find that Donati has given this saga a most gratifying finale. Highly recommended.
Thank you to the Historical Novel Society for providing a copy of this novel for review.