The Lonely Tree

Yael Politis

1944, British Mandate Palestine, Tonia’s parents take her and her brother and sister to live on Kfar Etzion, an isolated and struggling religious kibbutz south of Jerusalem. Fifteen-year-old Tonia does not believe that her father’s dream – a sovereign Jewish state – will ever come to be. Life on the kibbutz is harsh, and Tonia dreams of security and a little comfort, though material wealth for its own sake is not what she longs for. She wants something simple – to bring up her children under a roof of her own, in a place where they won’t feel constantly threatened. She is determined to seek this different life in America, as soon as she is old enough – even though that means turning her back on her love for Amos Amrani, a handsome young Yemenite who belongs to the Jewish underground. Much of this novel takes place in Kfar Etzion, during its establishment, siege, and fall to the Arab Legion during hostilities immediately prior to Israel’s War of Independence – resulting in the massacre of its surviving defenders. A later part of the story is set in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Tonia tries to find her new life. This is one of very few English novels that take place in British Mandate Palestine and the only one that tells the story of Kfar Etzion. While the characters are fictional, historical events are accurately portrayed. The Lonely Tree, however, does not read like a history book. It is a character-driven love story with no political agenda. The Lonely Tree of the title still stands today.

“A riveting literary piece!The Lonely Tree vividly recounts the experiences of Tonia Shulman, who is a small child when her family leaves Poland for British Mandate Palestine and a teenager when they move (against Tonia’s strenuous objections) to an isolated kibbutz. Life on the kibbutz is dangerous and demanding, but its difficulties pale in the face of the growing Nazi presence that is consuming Europe – and the extended families they left behind. Tonia struggles with faith, politics, identity, personal ambition, and a blossoming – but seemingly impossible – romance, as she seeks a safe place to call home, in a terrifying world. Seen through Tonia's evolving political, spiritual, and social sensibility, this period is brought to life in a compelling read that requires no prior familiarity with the time and place. Especially adept at portraying personal growth and changing perceptions, The Lonely Tree is a riveting work that deserves a place in any collection of contemporary historical fiction or Jewish/Israeli literature.” Midwest Book Review April 2019, D. Donovan, Senior eBook Reviewer

“The writing is very eloquent and the story

  • Digital version published as Amazon Kindle book by Yael Politis
  • Paperback version published by Holland Park Press, London
  • Jewish Fiction
  • Historical Fiction (British Mandate Palestine and State of Israel 1934-1967)
  • 444 pages
  • ASIN: B07F3V54M6
 

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Photograph of library in banner courtesy of House Beautiful, Photography by William P. Steele