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The Forest


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About the Author

Edward Rutherfurd was born in Salisbury, England, and educated at Cambridge University. His first novel, Sarum, was an instant international bestseller. His subsequent novels-Russka and London-were also highly acclaimed bestsellers here and abroad.


Charting an entire millennium in his newest saga, Rutherfurd continues to pursueÄin meandering prose and at tedious lengthÄhis fascination with nugatory events in English history, picking up loose threads from his sprawling bestselling novels London and Sarum. In this volume he expands his Chaucerian tapestry to include the chivalrous past of the storied New Forest bordering the south coast near the Isle of Wight. Beginning in 1099, the story is divided into seven uneven parts: "The Hunt," "Beaulieu," "Lymington," "The Armada Tree," "Alice," "Albion Park" and "Pride of the Forest." Intermingling real and fictional characters, the narrative traces the lineage of several families, mostly unknown outside rarified circles of Anglophiliacs. A segment that opens with a romantic version of the death of Rufus, son of William the Conqueror, in which he is shot by a wayward hunting arrow from the bow of Walter Tyrrell, introduces a Druid-like presence in the character of Puckle, a gnarled old man who darkly personifies the Forest. The introduction of other characters is similarly quixotic. Following a droll chapter on the ill-fated Spanish Armada, the next segment dramatizes the beheading of Alice Lisle for her role in the 1685 Monmouth uprising, and there is a mention of Leonard Hoar, an infamous early president of Harvard. Though the geographic landscape is rich, Rutherfurd rarely generates enough focus and excitement to sustain interest in the mundane anecdotes he strings together, and longwinded passages of exposition and description overwhelm his ambitious narrative. $300,000 ad/promo. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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 Cahners Business Information.

"Not all good things come in small packages. If you like books that are big, Edward Rutherfurd is your man. He writes wonderful sagas, tales that cover centuries, always keeping these long stories lively by telling us about the events and conflicts of people's lives. Rutherfurd does the painstaking research; the reader has all the fun."
-Seattle Times

"Many of the most memorable characters are women-Adela the Norman, bold in the face of injustice; her descendant Alice Albion, almost brave enough to defeat the hatred of the civil war; tough old Adelaide, so loyal to ancient grievances that she can't let her sweet niece Fanny take hold of love."
-Kansas City Star

"The novel covers 10 centuries, tracking a half-dozen or so families and their fates, their fortunes, and intrigues moving the stories along. But the trees have tales to tell, too. As fiction, it works like a charm. . . . English majors will love this, and so will almost anyone else who starts page 1 and follows Puckle, Godwin Pride, Cola the Huntsman and their descendents along Rutherfurd's twisting road."
-New York Daily News

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