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Lost in the Forest: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Paperback – July 25, 2006
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Top Customer Reviews
Set in the California wine country in the late 1980's, this Sue Miller novel begins in straightforward fashion with the accidental death of a man, then lets the effects of that death cascade downward to set the entire story in motion. This novel tells of fifteen-year-old Daisy and her extended family, and how the life of Daisy and her relatives is changed with the loss of Daisy's stepfather. Ill-healed wounds from the recent past are split open once more amid a plethora of present-day anguish. Daisy and all around her are, to state it simply, changed.
If Lost In The Forest were merely this, it would be an entirely different type of novel, but as most everyone now knows, Miller turns it into something more. What she accomplishes via Daisy's eventual erotic affair with a man nearly forty years her elder, is to explicitly turn out the most daring, taboo-breaking work of fiction since Lolita half a century ago. I avidly followed along behind Daisy in her descent into what is probably best described, even in 2005, as a plummet from grace.
I really feel uncomfortable saying more than this, because there is much lying under the surface of this work and I am afraid of giving details away when you can gain so much more by discovering this story for yourself. What I will conclude with here is that Miller, in this tale of pain and reaction, coming of age, and the making of mistakes, has given us her best work since Family Pictures, and showed not only courage in the story she created, but in making this barely more than a novella, when so many other writers might have yielded to the temptation to bloat this by an unnecessary couple hundred extra pages.
Yes, the relationship is repulsive and hard to read about. We are forced to open our eyes to something that we know as a society does happen: many atrractive young girls do become the objects of older mens' fantasies and sexual attentions. We know wihtout even thiking about it that the typical response would be that most fathers blow up and reject their daughters in response to having knowledge of such acts.
Although Miller makes Mark's response different, it is not unrealistic in the context of the rest of the storyline. Mark's response is inextricably linked to his ongoing relationship with Eva. As both Emily and Daisy state toward the end of the book, the children's lives were shaped/marred by their "exclusion" from the intimacy that their parents shared. Because Mark still loved her, his first instincts would have been to protect EVA from the knowledge of what happened to their daughter. He knew fully that with all Eva had lost and suffered that this would crush her.
Fortunately for Daisy, over the years, Mark had come to realize his culpability in being an absent father while married, his replacement by John in both Eva's and Daisy's hearts, and even after the loss of his "replacement" through the death of Daisy's step-father. Daisy would not continue to be lost to him, however; she called out to him by crying in the night -- a few days later, he heard her cry in a different way and came to her aid becoming the father she desperately wanted and needed.
Young girls like Daisy do reach out to older/other men when their fathers are absent or have died.Read more ›
Summary, no spoilers:
Eva and Mark had two children, named Emily and Daisy. When the girls were small, Mark has an affair, and the marriage ends.
Eva remarries John ("a nice guy"), and has a son, Theo, with him.
When the book opens, we discover that John has been killed in a car accident (he was a pedestrian), and everyone is feeling enormous grief.
The book tells the story of that grief, and how each character deals with life without John.
Mark now becomes a more vital part of the family's life, Eva deals with loneliness, and Daisy, 14 years old and the most troubled, deals with her grief, her alienation from other kids, and her burgeoning sexuality.
This is a quick read. As usual, Miller is entertaining, and in particular, in this novel she has created a realistic group of characters.
The only reservation I have is with the ending of this book. Miller's last chapter takes place well after the events of the book, and it does resolve a lot of questions as to what happens to the various characters. It is just my opinion, but I would have preferred a different ending. It was a bit of a letdown for me, and I felt like I was meeting different characters than the ones I had come to know intimately throughout the novel.
Despite this, Lost in the Forest is a very good book, and I highly recommended it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sue Miller is a talented writer. I found her style similar to Elizabeth Berg. Both authors paint a picture of a family with details of what it sounded like, what it felt like, what... Read morePublished 17 months ago by Lectora
I am enjoying reading Sue Miller's books. They feel real, with a touch of heart-ache and tragedy; so a bit uncomfortable, but that's real life. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Doranne
As many other reviewers have pointed out, the seduction of a 15 year old girl by a man practically old enough to be her grandfather, is never adequately dealt with. Read morePublished on May 18, 2014 by A. Joyce
The interrelationships, which are Sue Miller's strength, are written with compassion and believability. These are real people living real lives. Each layer revealed seems right. Read morePublished on March 28, 2014 by california grandma
It did not dissapoint. It is carefully a crafted story aboput a divorced father's concern for his daughter. It is well writen and has a realistic story line.Published on May 5, 2013 by Summer Reader
LOST IN THE FOREST (2005) is not Sue Miller's latest book but for some reason I missed it when it came out. Read morePublished on October 9, 2012 by Chris Beal
Divorce, loss, sexual awakening, questionable morals. Daisy goes from awkward teen to experienced lover, through the actions of her mother's best friend's husband. Oh dear.Published on July 14, 2012 by Kathryn C. Hogan