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The Hanging Tree Paperback – 26 Jun 1997

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (26 Jun. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140253882
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140253887
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,365,188 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
In the summer of that year when the wind was right you could smell the blood from the slaughterhouse. Read the first page
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It's a wonderful novel about what makes up human nature. The quest for the answer to this question is developed on three different time levels. The novel explores the relation between love and evil and the origins of violence. It's got adventure and detective elements mixed in but is nevertheless considering philosophical elements without forcing an answer on anybody. Great!
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Format: Paperback
After twenty years in Africa, I thought this a brilliant evocation of the paradoxes behind this cruel, beautiful continent. It's a sexy thriller as well as a moving philosophical statement. If you love Africa, read this book.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x93fbd0a8) out of 5 stars 13 reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x940ded5c) out of 5 stars An historical, literary mystery providing food for thought 2 Jan. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I agree with those who felt that some characters were underdeveloped--especially Chinta. That said, I found this book gripping. Kathryn Widd is a complex hero of unusual intelligence, and the author has no difficulty developing her thoroughly. Although I have a B.A. in anthropology, I felt no desire for more technical information on paleoanthropology. I find the current focus on accuracy in fiction annoying. Give us more good stories and believeable characters--technical authenticity be damned. This book gave me what I want in a novel: a believeable, fascinating protagonist and a gripping plot to maintain my interest. I look forward to Lambkin's next effort!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x940e1138) out of 5 stars Compelling and thought provoking 5 April 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I purchased this book on a whim, certain that it would be interesting but weighty and a slow read. Imagine my surprise when I literally could not put it down. I flew through it in two days, losing plenty of sleep and completely enthralled. It is a beautiful piece of work; thought provoking while maintaining a dramatic plot line. While it would have been interesting to have seen more deeply into the hearts of characters like Chinta and Sister Mary, their very vagueness created a sketch-like effect, allowing me to shape their motives to my own perception of the story. The combination of references to quantum physics and quotes from ancient curses lead me effectively down the disparate paths of pragmatism and mysticism. Kathryn and Tregallion were extravagantly romantic without being maudlin and created a beautifully tragic love story. This is a wonderful book and has become one of my deep dark favorites.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x940e1204) out of 5 stars The cover got to me 21 Jun. 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
When I saw the cover art of this book, it both repelled me and compelled me to read it. The artwork set the mood before I even started reading, but the story carried it on, page after page of a sense of dread, disaster, and blood.
The main character, Kathryn, intensified this foreboding with her cautious, regretful, and grave telling of the events that befell her group during their paleontological quest in Africa. The story, despite its presentiment of doom, was beautiful in its descriptions of the African environment, and its insights into human thought and feelings. The author came up with some imagery created by unusual metaphores that delighted me. I was impressed by his knowledge of how a woman feels inside her body, and his many insights into the complex workings of the human mind as it tries to sort out its deeper questions.

As Kathryn dealt with the problems of relationships, and the difficulties of her expedition, her main quest was to discover the source of the murderous evil that exists in humans. Her discovery of ancient fossils provides her team with disheartening answers, yet through all this gloom, Kathryn demonstrates the human ability to resurface, blooming, through the ashes of disaster. The mesmerizing, insightful qualilty of this book is what led me to rate it 5 stars.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x940e14e0) out of 5 stars Beautifully written and highly evocative 21 April 1997
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
If Hemingway had been a woman, perhaps she would have written this way. Evokes the transcendentalism of The English Patient by Ondaatje and the inexorability of a greek tragedy combined with the fascinating plot and detail of a compelling, first rate, multi-layered mystery. If you're worried about whether fax machines were available in this part of the world in the 80's (they were) or obsessed about postal service as much the pedantic reviewer YelenaM is, then skip this book and any others that have anything to do with passion, exploration, or mysticism
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x940e1618) out of 5 stars The violent origins of man 24 April 1997
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I decided to purchase this book partly from the additional information provided above, and from the review submitted by `bcurran' below - the latter certainly clinched it. I have consumed this book without being able to put it away, since particularly the last half is excellently presented in terms of plot and suspense. I must admit that the novel has some shortcomings - particularly with regards to character development and with an occasional sloppy dialogue - but generally it is a novel greatly and wonderfully conceived, and that alone makes it well worth the money. The technical issues - and admittedly there are some, not in the least in the area of paleoanthropology - should be of less concern, since there is still a massive amount of food for thought.
Its principal merit is that it touches on themes central to humanity on a grand scale, particularly in this day and age. It does so very ambitiously, attempting to weave together aspects of alchemy, hinduism, Jungian psychology, and the like through the extensive (and perhaps slightly superflous) use of quotes as the introduction to chapters containing gripping parallel tales from past and contemporary Africa. The main character and narrator (Kathryn) is somewhat masculine (purposely so?) and is developed in sudden revelational leaps, but stands out reasonably lucidly towards the end Her second lover Tregallion is excellently conceived with depth and insight, and is inspirational even if somewhat romantically idealized. There are a few characters, such as Sister Mary, the sinister fallen nun, that embody outstanding potential for exploration but fall a little by the wayside, and I regret that the author left her (and also Victor and Chinta) as a loose end. Finally, I regret that the the technical side of paleoanthropology was not pursued in more detail, since this science incarnates humanity's compulsion to search for the origins of its creation, and as such has mythological implications. This would lend itself well to the central themes and generally add literary weight.
My recommendation is: Buy it, and read it with your heart.
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