The Forest (Random House Large Print)

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9780375410376: The Forest (Random House Large Print)
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Following the triumphant publication of London, Edward Rutherfurd's new novel focuses on four turbulent centuries- Norman, Medieval, Elizabethan, and Tudor- in England's New Forest and the city of Bath.

Edward Rutherfurd's new novel covers four centuries of British history, with the New Forest as background, culminating in a five-family saga set in the days of Jane Austen. Few places in England are more resonant, more mysterious, yet more friendly than the huge forest that lies by England's southern coast, that provided hunting for England's Saxon and Norman kings, whose ancient oaks were used to build Nelson's navy. Jane Austen and her family lived just twenty-five miles northeast of the forest. The river Avon runs down the forest's western edge. On its eastern side is the ancient Saxon capital of Winchester, the great port of Southampton from which the Titanic set out and the QE2 sails to, and beyond that Portsmouth, home of the British Navy.

It is against this rich backdrop that Rutherfurd tells a tale of woodsmen, monks, sailors, craftswomen and families. The largest family in the novel is modeled loosely upon the extended family of Jane Austen, together with certain other known families from the New Forest area. And so, we have the magical formula of previous Rutherford novels with the same sense of the passing of centuries but a shorter time period allowing for more character development and drama, culminating in the Austen period, a favorite in British history, just at the time when the New Forest was at its most bustling.

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Review:

With such novels as Sarum and Russka, Edward Rutherfurd has laid claim to James Michener's longtime turf: the immensely researched, meticulously detailed epic of place, in which the characters tend to play second fiddle to the setting. The Forest is the most ambitious example yet of Rutherfurd's art. This time the location is that bosky patch of English real estate known as the New Forest. Other writers have tackled the area before. But The Forest is surely the definitive chronicle, with all the local stories, legends, and apocrypha woven into an irresistible narrative--think of Thomas Hardy's power and drama filtered through a very modern sensibility.

Opening with the assassination of King William II in 1099, the book covers nearly a millennium's worth of history. Rutherfurd creates generation after generation of adroitly realized characters, the best of whom defy our generic expectations: the canny Brother Adam, for example, is that rarest of literary creatures, a virtuous man who doesn't end up being simply bland and anodyne. Rutherfurd may be at his best when dealing with big-canvas events like the bloody Monmouth Rebellion of 1685. But he's no slouch at detailing more microcosmic conflicts, like this head-butting contest between two buck deer:

Her buck had hit firmer ground and his feet suddenly got a purchase on the grass. His hindquarters shivering, he dug in. She saw the shoulders rise and his neck bear down. And now the interloper was slipping on the wet leaves. Slowly, cautiously, their antlers locked, the two straining bucks began to turn. Now they were both on grass. Suddenly the interloper disengaged. He gave his head a twist. The jagged spike was aiming at the buck's eye.
Bestial behavior? Perhaps. Yet the level of human folly and brutality scattered throughout The Forest makes the foregoing passage resemble an outtake from Bambi--and gives this sylvan saga a very memorable edge. --Barry Forshaw

From the Back Cover:

“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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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

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