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In the Memory of the Forest
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In the Memory of the Forest

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  238 ratings  ·  43 reviews
When the body of Tomek, a young distillery worker, is found brutally murdered in the forest outside Jadowia in Poland, his boyhood friend, Leszek, decides to uncover the mystery behind Tomek?s death. Assuming the role of amateur sleuth, Leszek embarks on a clue-finding mission that takes him from country to city, into the grimy offices of once-powerful bureaucrats, and fac ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published May 1st 1998 by Penguin Books (first published 1997)
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Set in a Polish village at the time of the collapse of communism, In The Memory Of The Forest is a novel about a community struggling with the burden of everything it would rather forget: the Jews who were rounded up and sent to Treblinka to be gassed; the betrayals made by partisans fighting against the Nazis; the surveillance of ordinary people under the communist regime; and the everyday compromises that were necessary for survival in the face of enduring hardship. It’s a book, above all else ...more
I first read "In Memory of the Forest" ten years ago and it has remained one of my favourite books. When we were choosing books for our seniors book club, I suggested "In Memory of the Forest." Everyone in the group found this to be an outstandingly well written novel. Powers' language and description is power and beautiful.

The novel takes place in a small town in Poland during the time Communism is being replaced by a new freely elected government led Leck Walesa as president. There are severa
This book is like molasses. Or like a Miramax film vying for an Academy Award for Best Picture — beautiful and evocative, but slow-moving toward its riveting denouement. The book is rich on atmosphere and the characters are fully-formed, the story is sweeping. I really mean it: I can picture this book as a film – sometimes as I turned the page, I could hear the strings playing, the gentle thud-thud of a bass informing me that things were not okay.

But it doesn’t have the break-neck speed of your
Holly Lindquist
It is absolutely tragic that this is the only novel Powers wrote (he died at 53) because the man could write. I read this while I was in Poland and not for a minute did I think that the author wasn't a native Pole. (He was actually the Eastern European bureau chief at the L.A. Times in California.) The book is about a small rural community with a heartbreaking secret and the events that bring that secret into the open. Reading it brought back memories of moldering synagogues with trees growing t ...more
I read this book when it first came out in the mid 90’s and I loved it. I have just reread it and I enjoyed it just as much. I particularly like the setting, a small Polish village, during a time where the dogma of communism, for some, and the church for others, were being eroded by the perestroika and the promise of western dreams, leaving the whole country in a ideological mess and increasing mistrust towards the institutions. The story also covers the Jewish legacy in the village which was ‘h ...more
Kathleen Hulser
Eloquent, distinctive, sophisticated take on the suppressed traces of Jewish citizenry in a Polish village, slightly post-Glasnost. Unafraid of the complications of politics, and attuned to the fatal and unavoidable compromises made as human beings deal in the unappetizing choices offered in the small horizons of the world they know. Brilliantly conceived on many levels and full of characters that are sympathetically viewed despite their multiple bouts of shameful action and guilty conscience.
Stephen Hayes
Occasionally one comes across a book by pure serendipity, and this is such a book. My wife picked it up in the library, just to see what it was like, and when she had finished reading it she passed it on to me.

It is set in a village called Jadowia in Poland just after the fall of communism, and in a way is a kind of biography of a village. It is a time of transition, and so people are caught between two worlds, one of their recent history, and a new world that is coming. But the change and lift
Sue Davis
Wow! Amazing the way the author captures the dreariness of post-war Poland and the guilt or lack thereof over what happened to the Jewish people when the Nazis took over. One of the best I have read this year (or perhaps, ever).
Haunting and beautiful, this novel tells the story of a small Polish village coming to terms with the Communist and previous regimes. It is a small story, but a touching one.
One of my favorite books of all times yet hardly known by anyone. The writting is beautiful and the tale is haunting.
Kenneth P.

This is a novel about rural Poland as it emerges from the clutches of the Soviets. It is very much a transitional period in which Poles struggle to find their way. The small farming town of Jadowia is riddled with secrets, many of which are the result of forty years of Communist control. Administrators were corrupt. People adapted to a system that was inherently bankrupt. The Church played along. People survived.

When the system collapses it exposes villains and informers. But deeper, darker secr
As dour as a Polish/Finnish funeral. One wonders how anyone survived the relentless greyness of Communism. Surely life must have offered more than vodka, snow, snow and vodka, with corruption thrown in for light relief. I liked the description of the boiler-faced men hurriedly shuffling to the toilets in the first break of a Party Conference, after ripping into the voddy the night before. The smell was from the Stable of Hades itself. An interesting one-off novel that I'm amazed Bill Bryson reco ...more
Jennifer Odza
This was a compelling book to read. Initially the mystery of the murder of a young man draws one into the plot, but that murder is rather quickly made secondary to the mysteries of the community during WWII, communism and the later labor movement. The descriptions of the forest and fields, of farming and the weather are all beautiful. I found it difficult to keep track of the many characters introduced early in the book, so many had similarly difficult (Polish) names. It also took a little while ...more
Jin Choi
Really enjoyed Book Club's pick this month. Haunting story. Lyrical pose. And I've always liked ensamble cast shows (Blame my short attention span.)
Vincent Noel
Interesting backdrop of rural eastern Europe, with its own set of rules and culture and myths.
Anne Payne
A well-crafted novel that sets the reader up for an exciting journey, though ultimately falls flat. Powers had the opportunity to do much more with his characters; in particular, Lezcek, the narrator saw much less character development than I would have liked. Despite this, In the Memory of the Forest makes an important statement about post-war culture in Poland, and sums up the small town ethos quite nicely.
Nov 22, 2010 Mary added it
A mystery of a Polish factory worker leads Leszek on a search for his killer. His search will uncover truths behind the treatment of Jews in Poland during WWII.
2009 note: It did not take me 736 days to finish this book. It took me 736 days to amend this paltry review of mine. I guess I'm not a faithful person to GoodReads. I was satisfied with it enough to pass it on. I wish now it was in my collection.
While I only gave this book 3 stars, I ended up thinking the second half was far superior to the first half. The characters were, to some extent, archetypal of various time periods in recent Polish history. But the author had some very interesting observations of the physical landscape that were, in turn, poetic and lyrical or just plain informative. The story is sad on many levels, just a life often is.
May 02, 2009 Kay rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: fiction, war
A fascinating mystery story set in Poland that feels very realistic. Beautifully written it gives an insight into what life is like in a small village and the intricate intrigues that have lead to a crime.
It gave me an insight into the effect war has had on Poland and how deep the wounds can go. well worth anyone spending the time to read this.
Dorothy  Looney
Wonderfully layered story with beautiful prose.
The descriptions of the lugubrious landscape are captivating. Told through multiple perspectives, we see a Polish town confronting its Jewish past and the hidden atrocities of WW II. Nicely paced, the book draws the reader into the emotional and physical topography of the place.
Carolyn S
It took a long time to get though this book, but basically a good book, with a good message to everyone. Let us not forget the Jews and what they went though, they are just like everyone else. No religion is better or grows better people. Remember the dead!
Found this at the local library and was very pleasantly surprised..have to get through some politics and Polish/communist details - but turned into a lovely book about memory, regret and the Holocaust.
Not sure how this ended up on so many year's-best lists. It was okay. Nothing special. I think the critics liked it because it was Holocausty and the ending was as clichéd as a Spielberg movie.
Karen  Fiandaca
At times interesting, but really had to slog through ending was better - postwar rural Poland after fall of Communism and memories of what happened during the war. fiction.
Unfortunately, this is the only novel he got to write, but he got so much right in this one. Terrific exploration of character and setting with an intriguing mystery at its core.
I just loved this book. This was such a well written book that kept me enthralled throughout. Beautiful written and so sad. Such a shame he only published one book before he died.
Interesting historical novel about rural community in Poland looking back to its going along with the disappearance of Jews in WWII.
Aug 10, 2011 Tim added it
Kinda schmaltzy, I guess you're usually going to get that when fiction references the holocaust. 4/10/11
Another of my periodic re-read books. I'll post a more helpful review after my next reading of it :)
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