Monday, February 27, 2012

Novel: Lonely Tree

Title: The Lonely Tree

Author: Yael Politis (http://yaelpolitis.wordpress.com )

Pages: 443

Year: 2010

Publisher: Holland Park Press (www.hollandparkpress.co.uk )

Note: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher. Read other reviews of various books at http://seekingwithallyurheart.blogspot.com/

Do you like to read historical novels? Have you ever read any that were placed in the time before Israel was a nation? Can you imagine living in a community of people, sharing everything, and fighting with unyielding belief in a future yet unseen? While the author notes that the story here is totally fictional, it is hard when one reads the story to conceive that it is just fiction. The title “THE LONELY TREE” is based on a tree located in Etzion Bloc in Israel. It is the only tree there--a huge oak with roads that go around its base on both sides.

Yael Politis has written an extremely moving portrait of a nation, her people, her enemies and the lives lived there. While the main characters are the Shulman family, there are many other players who come in and out of their lives. It is like reading with a microscope and a telescope at the same time. For within this family’s many adventures, there is nation in birthing pains. The Shulman family has three children, two girls and one boy. The reader walks alongside each of the family members as days, months and eventually years pass.

We witness the many possible horrors, sorrows, joys, surprises, hills and valleys the family traverses in these pages. For a time we focus on Josef, the father, but we lose sight of the mother and children. Josef believes that the Jews are meant to have a land and be a nation, though at that time, he is struggling to survive in the day-to-day challenges as well as fighting with a gun to hold off those who seek to take the land from him and many others who believe with him. We see him struggle to help his wife understand as well as try to be a father to his children.

We see the mother having to let her husband go fight, while seeking to know what happened to her parents and extended family. While in a camp with her husband, word comes of what has become of her family. The reader is engulfed with feelings, watching as this woman hears of the events that are happening to those she loves.

There are the lives of the children growing up amid a war, with all the horror and sorrow included. We see life goes on and the courage it takes to do so when young people want to get married while others want to go to university. Our hearts are tugged at while we read this novel. It has many adventures, romance, war, death, marriage, babies, and even one fleeing to what she thought she wanted--to live in a different nation.

There are, whether purposely or not, many questions that seem to enter the reader’s mind as he/she travels through the story. Many may wonder if this work of fiction isn’t actually a true story. Though fiction, one cannot help but look at the issues that are raised in the novel. I could discuss the issues, the story, even the ending. Yet, that would not only ruin it for you, but would also take away the fun of thinking and enjoying this book.

I will say that one must place themselves in the shoes of many characters, to wonder if the reader would do what he/she sees the character choosing to do. All of us may be surprised to see themselves in the thoughts and actions of the characters. We all have enemies, but not like Israel. We have people who don’t like us because of how we look, our beliefs, our stand for what we believe to be right.

This is the second novel about the Jewish nation that I have read. I have always loved the Jewish people, perhaps more so because of the novels I have read. Anyone who reads this novel can’t help but appreciate what the Jewish people and nation have gone through. Even if this is a work of fiction, there is historical fact in it, which makes it all the more possible that the characters may have experienced what the writer has put to paper. Read it and see what you think.

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