The Witch Elm

The Witch Elm

by Tana French

Overview: Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who's dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life - he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family's ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden - and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.

A spellbinding standalone from one of the best suspense writers working today, The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we're capable of, when we no longer know who we are.

Deanna Boe (02/03/19): This is another well known and well thought of author whose writing for this book left me feeling and wondering why had I wasted my time? I wish I had looked at other reviews of this novel before I checked it out and forced myself to finish. At first it seemed to have potential and thus the reason I kept on reading. The main character was interesting, Toby. He seemed like a very likeable young man who worked in an art gallery. After a night out drinking with friends he wakes up to noise in his apartment only to discover two men robbing his place. They beat him severely, badly enough he could not return to work. It just so turns out that he has an uncle who is dying, and lives in what has always been considered the “family” estate. The uncle had never married but his three brothers had. It was a tradition for all of the families to go there most Sundays for a shared brunch. Interestingly enough, each of the three brothers only had one child and because of that these cousins became quite close in their relationships. In fact, they often spent most summers on this estate, supervised by this now dying uncle. Toby has a serious girlfriend and their relationship is close to marriage. She goes with Toby to help him and also the dying uncle. Up to this point I was more or less fine with the novel, but was this all? It starts to drag and drag. How to make it more interesting? The author brings into the scenario the finding of a dead man stuffed into a 200 year old Elm tree in the estate’s backyard. How? When? Why? These questions are drawn out until it finally comes to a part where the two people involved are basically telling it in a way that it seemed like junior high writing i.e. he said, she said or I did, you did. When I finished I found myself wondering why I had continued on to the end.
Rating: **

Faith Bowers (01/12/19): Though the story takes on a personal history of Willa Drake, you do not put all the pieces together until she stays on at Cheryl and Denise’s home to assist Denise after the shooting of her leg. Her parents do have a strong effect on her life as an adult as she really is stuck in having a man in control which is based on her childhood.

Tyler skips over her independent life after husband number 1 dies. I loved that I knew how it was going to end in the last part. I liked all the characters in Baltimore . They were the first characters in the book to not be one dimensional. I have liked all of Anne Tyler’s books now. When she first started writing, I think I was too young to appreciate her stories.
Rating: ***

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