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Fiction Literary

The Beech Forest

by (author) Marlis Wesseler

Thistledown Press
Initial publish date
Jun 2024
Literary, Small Town & Rural
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Jun 2024
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Jun 2024
    List Price

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Lisa Braun struggles to understand both her own life and the tragic historic events that haunt her in this engaging new novel written in Marlis Wesseler's characteristically understated, confiding prose.

The novel begins with Lisa heading off into a beautiful beech forest in Germany, near where her in-laws live. As she walks, she ponders the stark contrast between the peaceful forest and the notorious concentration camp, both known as Buchenwald. Her husband Gerhardt's family has always been reticent, or maybe evasive, about the Holocaust and their family's World War Two experiences, and Lisa has learned not to ask too many questions.

After they return to Canada, Lisa unexpectedly finds herself very alone and at loose ends, and through a series of events befriends an elderly man, Ben Meisner, who was interned in Buchenwald--and the questions she has always wanted to ask come searingly into focus. Lisa gets a closer view of unthinkable events than she bargained for, and in time Ben Meisner relies on her in a way she could never have predicted.

This wry, perceptive novel is about secrets and silences; about estrangements between family members, and gaps in understanding between well-intentioned people who struggle to bridge the distances between one another. The Beech Forest looks into the dark corners of the human heart, and brings us back out into the light of day with humour and compassion.

About the author

Marlis Wesseler's first collection of short stories, Life Skills (Coteau Books, 1992), was a finalist for both the Saskatchewan Book of the Year Award and the 1993 Regina City Book Award. Imitating Art was published by Coteau in 1994 and Elvis Unplugged was published by Oberon in 1998. Wesseler's stories have appeared in Grain and NeWest Review, as well as anthologies such as The Old Dance (Coteau Books, 1986), Out of Place (Coteau Books, 1991) and Lodestone (Fifth House Publishers, 1992). She makes her home in Regina.

Marlis Wesseler's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"This powerful novel speaks to all who grapple with shameful events in their culture's past. Interweaving this stark subject with the quotidian events of the main character's life as a wife and mother makes this story--full of strong characters, wit and drama, both in Germany and Saskatchewan--deeply compelling and relatable." Joan Givner, author of Half-Known Lives and Playing Sarah Bernhardt

"This should be a somber book, but it is anything but: Marlis Wesseler is a master of tongue-in-cheek observations and insights. This novel is evocative, sharply engaging and often laugh-out-loud funny." --J. Jill Robinson, author of More in Anger

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