The Roots of the Tree by Amanda Roberts

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The Roots of the Tree by Amanda Roberts

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A strong, thought-provoking story about the true nature of parenting, which I finished in 3½ hours because I couldn't put it down. Amanda Roberts popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 208 Date: August 2014
Publisher: Book Guild Publishing
ISBN: 978-1909716865

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The strength of a tree comes not from what you can see, not from the trunk, the branches and the leaves, but from what you can't see - the roots. Disturbance to the roots can be devastating. It's similar in human beings. Annie had lived for 63 years, secure in the love of her parents, Elsie and Frank. She'd looked after them in her home in their final years and it was quite by chance that she came across their wedding certificate when she was sorting out their effects. They had not been married until after her birth, but her birth certificate showed Frank as her father and that her mother was married to him. Something didn't add up and there was one inescapable conclusion: the man she'd loved as her father all those years wasn't her father after all.

Annie was distraught: she felt angry that she'd been deceived, convinced that Frank had not loved her enough to tell her the truth. Despite being barely able to hold herself together she determined that she was going to find out the truth behind what happened - and fortunately her two daughters were there to help her. But what do the three women know? They know that Annie had a father who wasn't Frank - but they don't even know the father's name or anything about him. What follows is a detective story worthy of the golden age of detective fiction as they work their way through childhood tragedy, a family feud and the horrors of a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp.

I was only going to have a look at the book, to get an idea of where it would best fit into my reading schedule. Three and a half hours later, I'd finished it. I warmed to Annie straight away: here was a woman who'd always thought of the man she believed to be her father as the only man in her life who'd never let her down - only to find that his deception far outweighed anything else she'd encountered. She can't get past the thought that he could have told her the truth, but chose not to. I don't come from a close family, but even I could empathise with how she felt. She was completely adrift, uncertain of who she was.

In terms of characters, the story's quite compact, but every character comes off the page fully clothed and you can feel for the way that they're caught up in something none of them ever expected. It's an elegant, thought-provoking look at the nature, the very essence of parenting. Does fathering a child relate to the man who was there at the moment of conception, or to the man who was there for the child year in, year out. Is that fathering in any way reduced by the lack of honesty about the way in which the relationship came about? What about the people who sort of knew the truth but said nothing? Is it kindest to say nothing, or brave to be honest? As Frank and Elsie were both dead when Annie found out, it does prove that being honest with a child, no matter how painful, is the only way. A superb read.

I'd like to thank the publisher for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Further Reading

In J by Howard Jacobson a character learns a disturbing fact about his parentage. Parentage plays an important part in To Touch the Stars by Jessica Ruston but the book's escapist fiction and not as thought-provoking as The Roots of the Tree. The subject is different, but the style of The Roots of the Tree is not dissimilar to City of Friends by Joanna Trollope.

You can read more about Amanda Roberts here

Buy The Roots of the Tree by Amanda Roberts at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Roots of the Tree by Amanda Roberts at

Buy The Roots of the Tree by Amanda Roberts at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Roots of the Tree by Amanda Roberts at

Bookinterviews.jpg Amanda Roberts was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.


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