The Forrests by Emily Perkins

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I found this a very sad book: with the sadness, perhaps, of the femme moyenne sensuelle.


Evelyn and Dorothy - the twins - are seven when the Forrests move from New York City, the hub of the world, to Westmere, New Zealand. The Forrest Trust Fund now cut out of their lives, the family live under a cloudless sky, in the dust and the heat, outdoors and running wild. Their father - who they would only call Frank - works for a cab company over the weekends but is really an actor. Michael, the eldest, has a friend called Daniel whose father lives in a half-way house. He starts to live with them, punches Dorothy on the shoulder to stop her crying when she starts school, and becomes family.

Lee, their mother, takes them to a commune when she needs to get away from Frank. The memory of that place - the freedom, the dirty richness of the landscape, the stolen kisses - their chaotic childhood, undulates beneath the surface of all their lives, and brings them together in flickering moments when they grow far apart.

The passing of time happens quickly. Evelyn and Dorothee grow older, discover sex, love, have babies, and watch as they too grow old. Their youngest sister moves away and their parents decrease in importance in their lives. Daniel, like a shadow, is always in the back of their minds. Death changes everything, but somehow life remains the same.

In a narrative that shifts and moves, growing as wild as the characters, The Forrests is an extraordinary literary achievement. A novel that sings with color and memory, it speaks of family and time, dysfunction, aging and loneliness, about lethargy, heat, youth, and how there is always something inaccessible and secretive, lying just out of reach.

About Emily Perkins

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Emily Perkins was born in 1970. She is the author of Not Her Real Name, a prizewinning collection of short stories that won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and the novels Leave Before You Go, The New Girl, and Novel About My Wife, winner of the Believer Book Award.
Published August 7, 2012 by Bloomsbury USA. 353 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Above average
Reviewed by Ursula K Le Guin on Jun 01 2012

I found this a very sad book: with the sadness, perhaps, of the femme moyenne sensuelle.

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