In a beautifully portrayed setting with colorful and intriguing characters, The Tree of Everlasting Knowledge swept me into the warmth of its family-oriented story. In this tale about the Fagans, a rich and powerful family with secrets and pain, a loss of one of their own comes to light in the first few pages.
Troy Fagan seems harsh and rigid as we first meet him, but gradually we see the pain hidden behind this facade. Ourania D’Andre bursts on the page, as she rushes to get to her job on time; she has been hired as the electrician on a new project for the Fagans: renovating the mansion for Dianne, the pregnant youngest Fagan.
Slowly we realize that the tension between Troy and Ourania springs from secrets of the past between the two of them.
And gently hovering over the landscape and enfolding the characters is the Great Oak tree that contains its own secrets. Is it a blessed tree, or do curses follow those who go near?
Amidst the maelstrom of the family secrets and past horrors that unfold on the pages, we meet Lianna, head of Job and Family Services, who is also Ourania’s mother and is about to ask something huge of her daughter. She has two challenging foster children to place, and hopes Ourania, who is certified as a foster parent, will take them on. The timing couldn’t be worse, in Ourania’s mind, and she resists. But she does agree, and it doesn’t take long, despite the difficulties the children bring, for her to bond with them. Especially with the boy, Walt, whom she is teaching to pitch a baseball. Emma is more difficult, but her resistance also comes from the horror that lives in her mind.
How are the two children connected to some of the other characters? What unexpected past events will reveal something more about the Fagans and the D’Andres?
The mix of secrets, family bonds, and a budding romance grabbed me right away and kept me reading. The characters felt real, and as a former social worker, I could relate to the issues that came to light for Ourania as she worked with the children. I was not surprised to find that some of the secrets connected the characters in unique ways, but I enjoyed watching it all come to light for the reader. Five stars.