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The Forgetting Tree

3.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,726 ratings  ·  332 reviews
From The New York Times bestselling author of The Lotus Eaters, a novel of a California ranching family, its complicated matriarch and an enigmatic caretaker who may destroy them.

When Claire Nagy marries Forster Baumsarg, the only son of prominent California citrus ranchers, she knows she's consenting to a life of hard work, long days, and worry-fraught nights. But her lov
Hardcover, 404 pages
Published September 4th 2012 by St. Martin's Press
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Average rating 3.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,726 ratings  ·  332 reviews

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Elyse  Walters
May 21, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'd rate this book about a 3.5. (a little less than a 4)....
However, 'until' I got to PART 3 of this book ---I was 'sure' my rating would be a 5. My rating goes down at the start of PART 3 because....
something did not 'feel' right. Too many new characters were introduced (so late in the book: about 10 new characters--which I think is a lot to add towards the last quarter of a book because we just don't have the strong emotional connection to 'any' of them as much as the others). I felt less tim
switterbug (Betsey)
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This complex, mystifying, and terrifying novel begins very simply, with spare prose and a story of tragedy that strikes the family members of a 580-acre citrus ranch--the violent loss of a beloved son and brother.

Claire is a literary intellect from a scholarly family, the daughter of Hungarian immigrants, who falls in love with Forster, the son of German immigrants and a man of the land, a citrus farmer in California. Claire grows to understand the land, and to subsequently love the farm, to fee
Jeanette (Again)
Rating = 2.5 stars

THE FORGETTING TREE begins with a tragic loss and ends with a long-delayed renewal. The bulk of the novel deals with what happens in between these two events, showing the gradual changes that become the impetus for a dramatic rebirth of sorts.

The loss of ten-year-old Joshua leads to the eventual dissolution of the Baumsarg family. The mother Claire is left living alone in the family home on their California citrus farm. Her ex-husband Forster has found someone new, and daughte
Sep 25, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ugh, is easier to open a vein or put your head in an oven. I assume this book will be adapted into a horror movie at some point.
Kate Campbell
Oct 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
I wanted to love The Forgetting Tree, set in California on a ranch, a connection to the environment, home to me. It is beautifully written. But, the character development and plot don’t hold up, there’s a reaching for a philosophical conclusion that just isn’t there. The story shifts about halfway through from a family saga to some kind of odd metaphysical Haitian voodoo theme and the story becomes simply implausible.

One reviewer asked: What kind of still-devoted ex-husband and loving daughters
Sep 20, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I've had a day to digest what I've read. I am still trying to come to terms with the hijacking that took place in the latter half of the book.I had looked forward to this read.It had languished on my to-read list too long. I started it with high hopes.
The story follows Claire Baunsarg as she marries into a citrus farming family and follows her as she slowly bonds with the land as she raises her children and lives her life. Tragedy strikes and tests her beyond her limit. Her marriage suffers as
Diane S ☔
Mar 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was the ideal book for me at a time when I am recovering from a serious illness and hospital stay. A truly complex novel that can be read in many ways, with an extremely strong woman character who pushes things to the limits and beyond. What it means to love the land, family, strengths and ties, to fight for what one believes in and to not give in just because others believe one should. Soli takes this woman, her motivations and tears them down than rebuilding them into a new form. A seriou ...more
Sep 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, fiction
I have mixed feelings about The Forgetting Tree. On the one hand, the prose was lush and poetic. I felt like I was in a melancholy fog right along with Claire as I was reading it. On the other hand, I could not relate to Claire or Minna at all. I think they both were mentally-ill in some way. I never found Minna to be a mysterious enigma - I found her to be crazy and mean. I couldn't understand why Claire was taken with her - sometimes I felt like it was mostly just because Minna was black and C ...more
Sep 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
This is a novel of love for the land and loss of a child. I found the parts about citrus farming to be fascinating. The parts of the story at the beginning when it involved Claire and her marriage to Forster and their life as Claire adjusted to being a farmer's wife and then her falling in love with the farm were truly readable and I fell in the love with the farm too. The passages written after the loss of their son were heartbreaking. Ms. Soli knows how to set a mood with her words and she can ...more
Elizabeth La Lettrice
Since it appears that I am the first to review this book, I feel a heavy burden on my shoulders! It’s a good thing I have nothing but positive to say!:)

First, I’d like to describe the book for you in Tatjana Soli’s words (based off of a Q&A in a GR’s forum) since there is no blurb on the GR book page yet:

” It's a very different book than The Lotus Eaters, but many of the same themes run through it.

It's about a woman who is running a large citrus farm in contemporary Southern California. I have s
Jul 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In this intensely spellbinding novel, Tatjana Soli delivers an incredibly complex story that – at its core – focuses on two women, one white, one black, who are seeking forgiveness and rejuvenation. It’s a true stunner.

The premise is telegraphed in an opening quote from Marilynne Robinson: “In destitution, even of feeling or purpose, a human being is more hauntingly human and vulnerable to kindness knowing there is a sense that things should be otherwise…”

Claire is a literary woman who marries
Feb 12, 2013 rated it it was ok
The Forgetting Tree is one of those novels that I almost gave up reading, but continued in hopes that I would like it more, or that it would get better, or that I would appreciate the critics' positive reviews. That, however, didn't really happen. When I first started reading Tree, I was annoyed by Soli's writing style--I found the sentences to be short, choppy, incomplete and distracting. I did not feel that I was inside the head of the protagonist and privy to her thoughts, I just felt that th ...more
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.5 rounding up because it really pulled me in. As a native Californian I really enjoyed the heart and soul of the farm, gorgeous writing, on the flip side she wrote the horrific parts to well too! All of her books have been excellent reads for me.
I debated on giving this one a three or a two, but in the end it's a one star book.

(view spoiler)
Aug 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, tlc-book-tours
The Forgetting Tree by Tatjana Soli isn't my normal reading fare - tragedy, death of a child, cancer - I mean, UGH, how joyless. These subjects have the makings of a book I usually wouldn't even consider reading. But something made me take a second look. Perhaps it was the setting - a California citrus farm - coupled with the fact that I'd meant to read Soli's other novel - The Lotus Eaters - for quite a while. Whatever the case, I'm happy I had the opportunity to read this strange, melancholy t ...more
Linda C
Jun 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2013
Strange book. I'm not really sure what to say about it. I thought the writing was really good (unlike other reviewers, who said that the writing was "choppy, with too many commas"). I didn't see that myself and I happen to like commas... but the characters themselves, YUCK.

You know from the beginning of the book that the family endures an unspeakable tragedy, the loss of the youngest child. All that occurs in the first quarter of the book, then we jump ahead about 20 years. As the mother, Clair
Dec 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
This book had so much promise. I fell in love with the beginning of the book, and then it all fell flat. And then, it got weird. This was truly more like two separate books, and oh how I wish the author had abandoned the second to continue the first. I kept trudging through, waiting for the beauty and promise of the beginning of the book to come shining through, but sadly, it never did. It morphed from what could (and should) have been a beautiful family saga, to a weird, science-fiction-esque t ...more
This book started out strong, but lost all semblance of being coherent by about Chapter 6. I gave up, read the last 10 pages to see if I was wrong about where this was going (and I wasn't), and called it quits. This book is a prime example of a potboiler, as far as I'm concerned. (here's the definition of potboiler if you are not familiar with the phrase - from the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language - A literary or artistic work of poor quality, produced quickly for profit.) ...more
Laura (booksnob)
Aug 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature, 2012
Claire is the matriarch of a citrus ranch in southern California. She is the daughter of Hungarian immigrants who fled Hungary during the second World War. Claire married into the German Baumsarg family, who owned the ranch for 3 generations, and bore three children with her husband Forster. The orchard becomes all encompassing for Claire as she takes it upon herself to make it succeed. Just as she is about to pay off all of their debt, something unforeseen happens to rock the foundation of thei ...more
Sep 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
The Forgetting Tree almost feels like several novels in one. It's the story of a family in the aftermath of a horrible act of violence; it's an exploration of that family's ties to the land; it's the tale of a mysterious stranger who enters that family--told from both sides. It made we wonder at times whether Soli might have decided, at some point, to combine several originally unrelated story ideas and see what developed--which sounds a little haphazard, maybe, but for most part it seems to wor ...more
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Forgetting Tree
Tatiana Soli

My"in a nutshell"summary...

A California citrus farming family suffers a huge personal loss.  This book is their story...both before and after.

My thoughts after reading this book...

Wow...I love a long lovely lingering family saga and that is exactly what this is and then some!  The Baumsarg family suffers an incredible loss and this book is what happens as they struggle to survive the effects of this horribly sad tragedy.  The life of this family revolves around
(Lonestarlibrarian) Keddy Ann Outlaw
I give this a reluctant 4 stars. Good and evil do battle in this novel, set on a doomed California citrus ranch. For the first third of the book I was bored with the plot, predictable as it was about Claire, a mother who never gets over the loss of her only son. So much of modern fiction seems to center around loss of a family member, and although we all have much to learn about death the older we get, and although I too have lost family members, I was not feeling enlightened by the author's plo ...more
Dec 26, 2012 rated it liked it
“The neglected lemon tree had grown to a monstrous height, almost even to the pitch of a barn roof, and the unpicked fruit had grown obscene – globular, swollen lemons the shape of footballs, hydrocephalic tennis balls, or further deformed into bizarre shapes resembling gourds, or small ghoulish animals.”

This early paragraph of The Forgetting Tree is a apt opening to the world you are about to be drawn into. When we imagine a lemon tree, we picture the good possibilities – the outstreched branc
Sep 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A terribly sad event happens near the beginning and it overshadows the rest of the story. I shed tears. To lose a child is the saddest of events and the manner in which Claire and Forster lose young Josh is so awful and senseless. It is a natural tendency to be protective of our children but these circumstances made Claire over-protective to the point of the children feeling imprisoned and eventually drove her husband away. Then, alone, Claire is told she has cancer. At the insistence of her two ...more
Oct 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Actually it is probably a 3.5. The book is separated into four parts.

The first part was well written and tells the story of a family torn apart by and unspeakable tragedy.

In the second part, the family is separated as the children grow up and the parents divorce. Then the wife gets cancer and hires a care-taker with great charm, but no references. As the wife gets sicker and needier, the caretaker gets stranger and her actions take on an increasingly sinister tone.

In the 3rd part, the caretaker
Andrew Canfield
Feb 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
This book would have received a higher rating for its first 2/3 than the closing portion. In fact, it starts out strong, telling the story of life on a California farm in often elegiac writing. The main characters-Claire, her daughters, and eventually Minna-seem to really begin to grow on the reader as it starts out. I could feel the atmosphere that was being created through the first 2/3 of the book, and Soli deserves credit for this strong beginning.

But it is undone in the latter portion, goin
Jul 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I got this book through Goodreads. I read it but gave to my cousin for her to review. Here is her review:

The Forgetting Tree is a dark, gothic novel set in sunny California on a citrus farm. It is the emotional story of Claire, a mother who is dealing with the loss of her son, and diagnosis of breast cancer. Claire tries to protect and shield her adult daughters from having to experience the cruelty of her cancer and the burden of her cared. She hires a mysterious young woman, Minna, to be her c
Mar 23, 2012 rated it liked it
A strange, strange book, Soli take co-dependence to a whole new level. I wanted to love this book as much as I loved The Lotus Eaters, but I never connected to the characters. It's not that they're under-developed. Both Claire and Minna stand out as complex, broken souls. It's just that I never really liked either of them and I just could not believe anyone in the book would have accepted Claire's "living arrangement" with Minna. It was too far-fetched even for my suspension of disbelief.
That sa
Donna Ziegler
Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
The following quote is stuck in my brain and I find myself thinking about it again and again. "In America she would never get over how many things each person had. The same dress served a woman at home to marry, christen her children, & then be buried in. Here one person owned more plates & cuts, more knives, fork and spoons, more dresses & oranges and books, more shoes, than the person would ever know or miss. Cleaning, wiping, worrying over Claire's things, made her dizzy -so Marie took them. ...more
Jane Dugger
Jul 30, 2013 rated it did not like it
I have never been happier to have a book end than this one. The best thing about it was the farm. I didn't care for any of the characters and am still a bit confused by the plot. The editor could have done a much better job getting it to flow properly. Also, the narrator, Joyce Bean was dreadful. Her voice was either robotic (seriously it made me think of the voice you hear on automated calls) or inappropriate for the character. She made all the children sound about 3 years old even if they were ...more
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Tatjana Soli is an American novelist and short-story writer. Her first novel, The Lotus Eaters (2010), won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Book Prize, was a New York Times Bestseller, and a New York Times 2010 Notable Book. Her second novel, The Forgetting Tree (2012) was a New York Times Notable Book. Soli's third novel, The Last Good Paradise, was among Th ...more

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  Kerine Wint is a software engineering graduate with more love for books than for computers. As an avid reader, writer, and fan of all things...
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