THE FOREST by Edward Rutherfurd

THE FOREST

KIRKUS REVIEW

England's James Michener will undoubtedly have another huge commercial success with this history-drenched blockbuster,

which essentially resembles it predecessors: Sarum (1987), Russka (1991), and London (1997).The subject is England's southern

“New Forest” area, originally founded as a game preserve by William the Conqueror, and prized as “a source of inspiration,

of study and recreation” throughout the centuries thereafter. Rutherfurd's episodic history of the Forest begins in 1099 with a

romantic tale of Saxon-Norman enmity that climaxes with the assassination of King William “Rufus,” then incorporates several

lengthy stories in which local families' successive generations keep reappearing: in 1294, a love-struck monk fathers a young

married woman's child; supporters of Queen Elizabeth's rival, Mary Queen of Scots, furtively prepare for the Armada deployed

by Mary's Spanish supporters; haughty Alice Albion risks treason in a later age of violent political factionalism (in the longest

chapter here, which also offers an intriguing characterization of “liberal” monarch Charles II); and, in Georgian times, a Jane

Austen—inspired tale of social-climbing and arranged marriage is deftly balanced against a vigorous indictment of continuing

commercial exploitation of the Forest's abundant resources. All this often feels like a history lesson. Still, Rutherfurd has once

again combined absorbing historical information with enviable narrative skill and a real gift for creating credible representative

characters.

Popular fiction at its best. ($300,000 ad/promo)

Pub Date: April 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-609-60382-5
Page count: 496pp
Publisher: Crown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2000




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