NATIONAL BESTSELLER • “Rutherford brings England’s New Forest to life” (The Seattle Times) in this companion to the critically acclaimed Sarum
From the time of the Norman Conquest to the present day, the New Forest, along England’s southern coast, has remained an almost mythical place. It is here that Saxon and Norman kings rode forth with their hunting parties, and where William the Conqueror’s son Rufus was mysteriously killed. The mighty oaks of the forest were used to build the ships for Admiral Nelson’s navy, and the fishermen who lived in Christchurch and Lymington helped Sir Francis Drake fight off the Spanish Armada.
The New Forest is the perfect backdrop for the families who people this epic story. The feuds, wars, loyalties, and passions of many hundreds of years reach their climax in a crime that shatters the decorous society of Bath in the days of Jane Austen, whose family lived on the edge of the Forest.
Edward Rutherfurd is a master storyteller whose sense of place and character—both fictional and historical—is at its most vibrant in The Forest.
“As entertaining as Sarum and Rutherford’s other sweeping novel of British history, London.”—The Boston Globe
Charting an entire millennium in his newest saga, Rutherfurd continues to pursue--in meandering prose and at tedious length--his fascination with nugatory events in English history, picking up loose threads from his sprawling bestselling novels London and Sarum. In this volume he expands his Chaucerian tapestry to include the chivalrous past of the storied New Forest bordering the south coast near the Isle of Wight. Beginning in 1099, the story is divided into seven uneven parts: "The Hunt," "Beaulieu," "Lymington," "The Armada Tree," "Alice," "Albion Park" and "Pride of the Forest." Intermingling real and fictional characters, the narrative traces the lineage of several families, mostly unknown outside rarified circles of Anglophiliacs. A segment that opens with a romantic version of the death of Rufus, son of William the Conqueror, in which he is shot by a wayward hunting arrow from the bow of Walter Tyrrell, introduces a Druid-like presence in the character of Puckle, a gnarled old man who darkly personifies the Forest. The introduction of other characters is similarly quixotic. Following a droll chapter on the ill-fated Spanish Armada, the next segment dramatizes the beheading of Alice Lisle for her role in the 1685 Monmouth uprising, and there is a mention of Leonard Hoar, an infamous early president of Harvard. Though the geographic landscape is rich, Rutherfurd rarely generates enough focus and excitement to sustain interest in the mundane anecdotes he strings together, and longwinded passages of exposition and description overwhelm his ambitious narrative. $300,000 ad/promo.
Historically informative with captivating generational family intrigue. I couldn’t put it down.