The Beech Forest

Author: Marlis Wesseler
ISBN: 9781771872546 Categories: Fiction, Literary Tags: , , , ,
Publication Date: 4 June, 2024
Dimensions: 5.5 x 8.5"

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

Born in Kinistino, Saskatchewan, Marlis Wesseler attended university in Saskatoon and Regina, taught school in the North, travelled extensively and has lived and worked in Regina for over forty years. The Beech Forest is her sixth book of fiction. Award winning and often nominated, her previous books include the short story collections, Life Skills and Imitating Art, and the novels Elvis Unplugged, South of the Border, and The Last Chance Ladies’ Book Club.


Praise for The Beech Forest:

“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

Praise for Past Work:

The Last Chance Ladies’ Book Club: “Wesseler deftly manages a balance of darkness spiced with wit and empathy, as the book club loses its innocence and characters are thrust into a divisive dilemma . . . and readers willingly engage with this original compelling page-turner to find out the truth.”
—Book of the Year Award Juror statement, Saskatchewan Book Awards, 2018

“In her wonderfully comic, quietly humane novel, Elvis Unplugged, Marlis Wesseler masters a confident and compelling narrative voice.”
—Book of the Year Award Juror statement, Saskatchewan Book Awards, 1998

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