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The Forrests Paperback – August 7, 2012
“Transcendent… the author's descriptively rich prose and sense of scene drives the story on…Perkins knows how to artfully reveal her characters' inner machinations as they cope with whatever comes their way.” ―Publishers Weekly, starred review
“This timelessly true tale will appeal to discerning readers of literary fiction.” ―Booklist
“Perkins has a remarkable ability to capture the joys and angst of each stage of life, from the stings and sorrows of rejection and loss to feelings of ineptitude, boredom, and desire to the sustaining love of family…recommended for fans of family sagas such as those by Anne Tyler and Zadie Smith.” ―Library Journal
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
This is an ordinary story about ordinary people who live boring, uninteresting lives. Why should I care? Why should I waste my time reading about them? Perhaps Perkins' prose is considered "literary" but I just found it annoying. There are pages and pages of detailed descriptions of the most ordinary, every day things, as if she just needed to fill pages. For example, Perkins gives us a full page and a half of Emily making a meal in the most mind numbing detail of ordinary things: "she put the macaroni cheese in the oven and started on the birthday cake. . . . The eggs were thick shelled, hard to crack . . . She sifted flour and baking soda over the wet mixture." And so on, ad infinitum throughout the book.
Nothing really happens in this story, and even when something momentous happens, life changing events that can really alter a person's life, they are just passed over and on to the next vignette. This is not my idea of good literature, just words on a page and I really don't understand all the accolades. My advice is to skip this one,
Strangely, it reminded me of another book that impacted me that I shouldn't have enjoyed: 'The Stone Angel' by Margaret Lawrence, required reading in my Grade 12 (Year 13 ) English class. Or, at least, 'The Forrests' left me with impressions similar to the way I remember experiencing Lawrence's tale of 90 year old Hagar Shipley. It is ironic that 'The Forrests' has been criticised as a series of vignettes, as Lawrence's novel, also written as vignettes, is acclaimed as one the greatest Canadian novels of all time. Looking at reviews of both books on Goodreads, they are lauded and lambasted for similar reasons and it would seem there is no middle ground.Read more ›
However, I found the book to be really nostalgic, especially the early part, when their were so many anecdotes reminding me of the fun, the imagination, the sensory experiences and the adventures of my childhood. How simple life seemed to me then ... but it was certainly not simple for Evelyn and her siblings as they coped with the foibles of hippie parents.
The nostalgia made the book for me - without it, I would probably have been quite bored.
The prose. Whatever the scene, whatever the era, Perkins somehow manages to evoke the most vivid, startling and real imagery from her writing. I particularly admired her word-smithery in regards to swearing. For most authors swearing has mere shock value. Perkins has a strange talent throwing around (mostly F-bombs) in an oddly artistic fashion, matched only by her ability to sexually charge a scene.
What I didn't quite get:
Despite the above mentioned power-prose the story was hard to get into. The Forrests is populated with interesting characters and equally interesting events, however due to the style it was hard to get grounded and feel really compelled by the characters. For me personally it felt like every time I cared about was going on, the time-line moved and something else started happening.
Some have suggested this is the point of The Forrests, after all: real life moves on before we get to see the resolutions we want. Someone did warn me that as a runner up to the Booker prize, this novel might be a quite 'literary'
In totality, The Forrests is a powerful read, but only if you're looking for it. I wouldn't recommend treading here if you want (melo)drama ridden storylines with happy endings.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm an avid reader. I pride myself on being able to finish boring books just so I can feel like I got my moneys worth. This book is beyond boring. Could. Not. Finish.Published 4 months ago by cass
This was an enjoyable book, particularly if you live in New Zealand or have an interest in writers from here. It was thought provoking for me, having not grown up here. Read morePublished on November 29, 2013 by Bellefast
This is the first book by a Kiwi that I have and this lady's first book. It was well conceived and charmingly written, i shall now keep an eye out for more by this author whom will... Read morePublished on June 13, 2013 by Rachel England-Brassy
Okay, this was an amazing, mysterious, Blue like Jazz'ish kind of book. I was totally taken into it and loved all of its quirky and sometimes irritating twists and turns. Read morePublished on May 14, 2013 by f32dream
I found the plot hard to follow and the main characters not particularly likeable. The commune is not something I am interested in.Published on May 10, 2013 by Fiona Steel
The Forrests by Emily Perkins
The story of a family, parents Frank & Lee along with children Evelyn, Dorothy, Michael, & Ruthie, made their way from New York, where... Read more
I enjoyed the setting which encapsulates the period of my upbringing, vivid pictures of the dairy, the local swimming pool etc. Read morePublished on February 1, 2013 by Amazon Customer
Took me quite a while to get into. Found the writing style less tha easy to read. Found myself liking it more to the end though.Published on January 14, 2013 by NICOLA CAINE