Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “In the Memory of the Forest” as Want to Read:
In the Memory of the Forest
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

In the Memory of the Forest

3.96  ·  Rating Details ·  292 Ratings  ·  51 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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about In the Memory of the Forest, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about In the Memory of the Forest

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Apr 09, 2017 Petra rated it really liked it
There's a lot going on in this story: a village learning a new balance of power after the fall of Communism, the forgetting of a history no one wants to remember, that past not wanting to remain forgotten, guilt, power, the depth of war wounds.
The writing is really good. It has atmosphere and draws one into the stories and characters.
The murder of Tomek is a small part of this book. The book focusses mainly on the history of Jews in this town during WWII and how their story seems to be wiped o
Dec 27, 2008 Brian rated it it was amazing
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
May 09, 2011 Jeanette rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
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
Feb 18, 2010 D. rated it really liked it
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
Sep 26, 2015 lärm rated it it was amazing
At a very slow pace, Powers tells us the story of a backward village in Poland struggling with its past, present and future. And he does it in such a beautiful and profound way, that it’s hard to believe that Powers is actually American. This is not a page turner full of action. The story meanders its way to some sort of climax that goes not with a bang, but a whimper. The everyday life, and the dealing with the past, is more important than the murder of Tomek. Those in power during the socialis ...more
Holly Lindquist
Feb 27, 2010 Holly Lindquist rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 05, 2016 Steffi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hab ich vor einigen Jahren gelesen und war beeindruckt von der Geschichte. Schuld spielt eine wichtige Rolle und ist nicht eindeutig zu fassen.
Anya Nardone
Although "In the Memory of the Forest" by Charles T. Powers did not sound that interesting to me, I gave it a chance. I really liked the cover (which surly got my attention) and once I picked it up, the mystery behind it made me slightly curious. I started reading a few pages and found that it picked up pretty quickly following the case of the murder of Tomek, a friend of of Leszek (a farmer in Poland). In an attempt to find out who murdered his friend, Lesek uncovers some history about his smal ...more
Kathleen Hulser
Jun 23, 2011 Kathleen Hulser rated it really liked it
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.
Sue Davis
Nov 28, 2011 Sue Davis rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mysteries
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).
Apr 17, 2011 Cortney rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011
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.
Mar 26, 2012 Edward rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books of all times yet hardly known by anyone. The writting is beautiful and the tale is haunting.
Mar 16, 2009 Lizzie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Kate
One of the best books ever written, that nobody has heard of.
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
May 24, 2015 Grace rated it really liked it
The descriptions of life in a rural Polish village after the fall of Communism are rather dismal but real. The characters are not the most loved, but you grow to understand them and their machinations.
The book is so honest. Honest about hate, bigotry, greed, and family. It was a difficult journey, reading this book and keeping track of the characters, but it was well worth it. Well thought out plot and brilliant writing that challenges make this an exceptional book.

Here is a quote from the book.
Kenneth P.
Oct 04, 2012 Kenneth P. rated it really liked it

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
May 01, 2015 Saul rated it really liked it
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
Dec 27, 2010 Jim rated it liked it
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
Mar 30, 2009 Jennifer Odza rated it really liked it
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
Dec 23, 2015 Lawrence rated it it was amazing
I recall this book getting some attention (so deservedly!) back when it was published in 1997, but somehow it never got on my reading list. If you also missed it, I can't recommend too heartily a revisit. This is a riveting story, with elements of a traditional mystery, set in rural Poland c. 1990, when the country is in transition from Soviet domination. While there is a murder, the real mystery is the whitewashed past and the loss of some 80% of the population some 45 years prior. Highly atmos ...more
Oct 25, 2013 Anne rated it it was ok
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.
Apr 01, 2007 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.
Jan 21, 2009 Hazel rated it liked it
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.
Apr 30, 2009 Kay rated it liked it
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.
Carolyn S
May 25, 2012 Carolyn S rated it liked it
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!
Aug 03, 2013 Romi rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 03, 2009 Justin rated it liked it
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.
Oct 01, 2013 Nicki rated it it was amazing
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.
David Bird
Aug 26, 2012 David Bird rated it liked it
I remember this only as a decent read.
Karen  Fiandaca
Oct 14, 2013 Karen Fiandaca rated it liked it
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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Walking Since Daybreak: A Story of Eastern Europe, World War II, and the Heart of Our Century
  • A Country in the Moon: Travels in Search of the Heart of Poland
  • Short Walks from Bogota: Journeys in the New Colombia
  • Europe Since 1870: An International History
  • A Kid for Two Farthings
  • The Last English King
  • All the Days and Nights: The Collected Stories
  • Badenheim 1939
  • Black Sea
  • Stone in a Landslide
  • Mon traître
  • Lightning Man: The Accursed Life of Samuel F. B. Morse
  • This River Awakens
  • The Keys of Egypt: The Race to Crack the Hieroglyph Code
  • The Hill of Evil Counsel
  • The Snows of Yesteryear
  • Cordelia Underwood: Or, The Marvelous Beginnings of the Moosepath League
  • Herra Darwinin puutarhuri

Share This Book