The Lonely Tree

Yael Politis

A great love story set against the violent birth of a nation.

Sample Passages

  • That's him, her Amos

    May 1946, Jerusalem, British Mandate Palestine

    The day that Tonia Shulman first noticed Amos had begun as an
    ordinary one. When her tenth-grade Civics class – and the school
    day – finally ended she stretched and looked at her watch.
    ‘Feel like going to Café Atara for coffee and cake?’ Ilana
    Rozmann swiveled in her seat to face Tonia.
    Tonia shook her head. ‘Can’t. No time.’ She had heard that
    the gooey chocolate cake they served was delicious, but she
    had to catch her bus back to the kibbutz. Besides, she had no
    money.
    Ilana shook her wavy blonde hair and ran the fingers of her
    right hand through it. ‘My treat,’ she offered.
    Tonia felt her face flush as she stood up. ‘No. Thanks, but
    I can’t. Have to work today.’ The last thing she wanted, today
    of all days, was Ilana Rozmann, or any of the Rozmann family,
    paying for anything else for her.
    Ilana slid sideways from beneath the battered, ink-stained
    wooden desk. ‘More fields to clear?’ She raised her eyebrows
    and stared at the scrapes and cuts on Tonia’s hands.
    Tonia held her hands out, palms up, as if to ask, what can
    I do? Then she busied herself gathering books while Ilana
    swayed toward the door to join her friends. Bunch of spoiled
    rich kids, Tonia thought. Let them choke on it. She shrugged
    into the straps of her backpack and tied the sleeves of her frayed
    navy blue cardigan around her waist. She could see Ilana giggling
    with two other girls out in the hall. They all wore brightly
    colored shirtwaist dresses and white patent leather pumps. Tonia
    watched them for a moment and her resentment faded. What
    did she care? She was not ashamed of her faded blue skirt and
    scuffed work shoes. She wouldn’t want to get a permanent wave
    or wear stupid nylon stockings if she had all the money in the
    world. That much she had inherited from her parents – a disdain
    for fashion and the accumulation of material goods for their own
    sake.
    Though Tonia had little in common with her classmates, she
    loved her new school. Thank God her father had agreed to allow
    her to switch from Miss Landau’s school for religious girls
    to the prestigious Hebrew Gymnasium of Jerusalem. At Miss
    Landau’s they still taught deportment; at the secular and coed
    Gymnasium Tonia was learning philosophy, economics, and
    physics. A diploma from Jerusalem’s first modern high school
    would get her into a good university. That it was located in the
    snooty Rehavia neighborhood and mainly attended by the children
    of professors, doctors, and government officials was a minor
    annoyance.
    Ilana stuck her head in the door and waved goodbye. Tonia
    smiled and waved back. Ilana was nice enough, Tonia reminded
    herself. Anyway, it wasn’t her fault that Tonia had no choice but
    to accept her parents’ charity.
    Tonia descended the wide stone steps and strolled through
    the shady neighborhood with its elegant dress shops and flower
    vendors. As usual, downtown Jerusalem was deserted. Few cars
    passed, and the owners of many of the hole-in-the-wall shops
    had closed up for their afternoon nap. She window-shopped toward
    the Pillar Building on Jaffa Road to wait for the battered
    bus that would take her home to kibbutz Kfar Etzion, about
    a forty-minute drive south of Jerusalem. The long black bonnet
    of the bus soon nosed around the corner. It had high fenders and
    pop-eyed headlights on either side of its tall grill, and its side
    was covered with deep scratches and dents. Since yesterday, six
    of the seven windows on either side of it had been fitted with
    squares of plywood.
    ‘Hey there, Tonia, how are you today?’ The stocky driver
    – dressed in khaki shorts, sleeveless blue T-shirt, and sandals
    – left the engine running and the door open. ‘Don’t go anywhere
    without me,’ he called over his shoulder and raced up the
    street. Tonia knew he would soon be back with a large bottle of
    seltzer.
    She rapped her knuckles against one of the wooden shields
    before climbing onto the bus. With the windows covered, the
    empty bus was dark and airless. Tonia chose the seat halfway
    back, next to the still-uncovered window on the right side, where
    she would have enough light to read.
    By now Ilana and her friends would be lounging around
    a table at the café. That’s what they did after school, threw
    away their families’ money. It never occurred to any of them to
    get a job. To work for anything. Tonia did not envy them their
    wealthy lifestyle, but was determined to one day attain the security
    that money could provide. She was prepared to work hard
    for it; no one would ever have to offer to pay her way again. She
    was going to be rich enough for her children to eat whatever they
    wanted, whenever they wanted it. For years, she had dreamed of
    boarding an airplane for New York and escaping this wretched
    not-even-a-country. Now she was fifteen and would soon be old
    enough to do just that, once she saved up some money. Her children
    were going to grow up somewhere they could feel safe.
    ‘That’s only so we don’t suffocate,’ the driver said when he
    came back and saw Tonia next to the unprotected window. ‘No
    one’s supposed to sit there.’
    ‘At least until Bethlehem,’ she begged.
    The driver shrugged, took his seat, and put his head back
    to pour half the contents of the bottle of seltzer down his
    throat. Five more passengers boarded. Three women, members
    of Tonia’s kibbutz, to whom she nodded, and two young men
    she did not recognize. She presumed they were Palmach boys,
    stationed in the kibbutz by the Haganah, the unofficial Jewish
    army. A bivouac of tents in Kfar Etzion housed a contingent of
    them, the isolation of the kibbutz allowing the Haganah to conduct
    illegal military training on its hillsides, far from the eyes of
    the British Mandate authorities.
    ‘Is there anyone I should wait for?’ the driver asked, turning
    around.
    The passengers shook their heads, and he pulled out onto
    Jaffa Road. The thick pale walls of Jerusalem’s Old City soon
    appeared on their left, majestic under their battlements. A chaos
    of pushcarts, donkeys, and camels mobbed the clearing outside
    the Jaffa Gate. Tonia craned her neck to watch the driver of
    a red delivery van try to maneuver past them, but the single bare
    window allowed her only a glimpse.
    At least the sky was clear, and she wouldn’t get drenched
    and muddy again. She was assigned to work in the orchards and
    had three hours of work ahead of her when she got back to the
    kibbutz. If only she could skip work, get in bed, and read, without
    having to squint in the flickering light of the old kerosene
    lantern or take her book to the dining hall. Of all the luxuries
    Ilana Rozmann took for granted, Tonia did envy that one – the
    electric light next to her bed.
    When Tonia got her dream house in America, she would fill
    it with bright lights and never turn them off. And it would be
    some place where they had too much water. Some place where
    you could take a hot bath every evening. You could leave the
    faucet running all day if you wanted. She would have a room
    full of books with an enormous desk and a thick rug on the
    floor. And a huge wooden table in the kitchen, where friends
    and family would gather for uncomplicated, delicious food.
    Mrs. Rozmann’s recipe for honey and garlic chicken. Grilled
    eggplant salad. Roasted potatoes. Almonds with tea after the
    meal. She would set the table simply, with white plates. Maybe
    a silver rim around the edge, but no fussy flower patterns. Tonia
    would sit at one end of that long table, the man who loved her
    at the other. The shadows of her fantasies cloaked his face, but
    she knew he was tall, slim, and had a warm smile. He would entertain
    the guests with his wit, but his eyes would always linger
    on Tonia.
    She sighed and took out her copy of Anna Karenina in
    English. The bus soon jolted to a halt at the roadblock on the
    outskirts of Bethlehem, and an unfamiliar British police officer
    boarded. The regular policeman was friendly and usually waved
    them through. When he did stop the bus, it was to ask how things
    were or warn the driver about something he had heard. But this
    one was a stranger to them, young and arrogant-looking, brandishing
    a nightstick, square jaw jutting high.
    ‘Open that,’ he ordered Tonia and poked the stick at her
    backpack, which lay on the seat beside her.
    His rudeness angered her and she ignored him, looking
    down at Anna Karenina and pretending to read.
    ‘This bus isn’t going anywhere, Miss.’ He almost smacked
    his lips on the ‘M’ of ‘Miss’ and bent down to bring his face
    closer to hers. ‘Not until I’ve checked that none of you Jews are
    carrying illegal arms. So open the bag.’
    She unzipped the bag and pushed it toward him.
    He turned the backpack upside down and shook it, spilling
    everything out. Her schoolbooks, notebooks, and the books she
    had bought for her father, still wrapped in newspaper, fell on the
    seat and floor. ‘Oops. So sorry about that. Now you can unwrap
    those packages.’ He tapped her father’s books.
    Tonia rolled her eyes, did as she was told, and then gathered
    up her things while he searched the other passengers.
    ‘Get those wooden panels off the windows,’ the policeman
    barked at the driver. ‘Against traffic regulations.’
    ‘I didn’t put them on, and I can’t take them off,’ the driver
    said. ‘You’ll have to lodge a complaint with the bus company.’
    The policeman wrote a citation, muttering about bloody
    hooligans and terrorist thugs. He handed it to the driver and
    gave Tonia a nasty look before getting off the bus. Then they
    pulled away, going south toward Hebron.
    ‘Tonia, get away from that open window now,’ the driver
    said, eyes flitting between the road in front of him and the rearview
    mirror. ‘Be a good girl and don’t make me have to explain
    to your mother that I let you sit there.’
    ‘I’ll tell her it wasn’t your fault.’ She picked up Anna
    Karenina. At least the time she spent riding the bus should be
    hers, to do as she pleased.
    The road ran over the crest of a range of hills that formed
    a watershed. To the east lay the Judean Desert – naked peaks of
    earth and rock, glorious in their desolation. On Tonia’s right, the
    rocky hillsides glistened green, and tangles of yellow wildflowers
    clung to them. These straggly flowers could not rival the
    brilliant patches of pink and white cyclamen and red, white, and
    purple anemones that had sprung up after the first winter rains
    and just as quickly disappeared again, but they still afforded
    a better view than plywood.
    They were approaching Solomon’s Pools, a water reservoir
    two miles south of Bethlehem, believed to have been dug
    during King Solomon’s reign. The area looked like a picture
    book. Cultivated plots near the pools surrounded small homes.
    Vineyards spilled down the hillside.
    They had just passed the large rectangular stone building
    called Nebi Daniel and the driver had to slow for a curve. Tonia
    glanced up and saw three figures – three young men with kaffiyahs
    wrapped around their faces – rise from behind the acacias
    that hugged the roadside. She watched in paralyzed fascination
    as they raised their arms and threw the rocks they gripped at the
    bus. In the same motion they bent to scoop up a second round.
    The first barrage crashed into the bus with frightening force,
    making the vehicle seem to shake. One of the women in the
    back screamed, and the engine roared as the driver tried to accelerate,
    but then hit the brake. Tonia could not take her eyes off
    one of the Arabs. He seemed to be staring right at her as he let
    loose the large jagged rock that came flying through the unprotected
    window.
    It missed her head but grazed the end of her nose, and she
    felt blinding pain. The rock smashed into the opposite side of
    the bus and fell to the floor. Tonia instinctively moved her hands
    toward her nose, but was afraid to touch it. It felt as if the rock
    had torn it from her face, but she looked down and saw only
    a small trickle of blood dripping onto her lap. It couldn’t be that
    bad. She placed a finger on each side and, reassured that she still
    had both nostrils, let out a deep breath. The tip of her nose was
    bleeding, but she did not seem to be badly hurt.
    The driver kept glancing at her in the mirror as he maneuvered
    on the tortuous road. ‘Are you all right? Can you talk?’
    ‘Yes. I’m okay. It’s not so bad,’ she said, resolved not to reveal
    how shaken she was. She wiped the blood on her sleeve.
    He did not slow down until they had gone a few more miles,
    past the dilapidated village that stood high on a hill overlooking
    the highway and past the summer residence of the Mukhtar
    of Bethlehem. Meanwhile, the other passengers huddled around
    her and subjected her to a thorough inspection, clutching the
    overhead rack, as they were tossed from side to side by the motion
    of the bus.
    ‘God in heaven, look how you’re bleeding,’ one of the women
    said.
    ‘It’s not so bad, I don’t think, really,’ Tonia said. Her body
    had begun to relax, fear replaced by exhaustion. She wished they
    would leave her alone. She would be home soon, and her mother
    would take care of her. ‘Just tell me – what does it look like?’
    The woman took Tonia’s chin in one hand. ‘It scraped off
    quite a chunk.’
    One of the Palmach boys bent to pick up the heavy rock and
    fingered its sharp edges. ‘Could have killed you,’ he said and
    shook his head. ‘Easily. No wonder that bloody copper wanted the
    plywood off the windows. Bet the bastard knew. Good thing you
    opened the window. Broken glass could have blinded you.’ He set
    the rock down on the seat beside her. ‘Hang on to that. Good story
    for your grandchildren. You can see your blood on it.’
    When the driver stopped, the Palmach boy went to the front
    for the first aid kit and cleaned the wound for her. She winced as
    he doused it in purple iodine and felt ridiculous when he taped
    a piece of gauze to the end of her nose. ‘Looks like it might
    leave a scar,’ he said, ‘but only a small one.’
    The driver started up again.
    ‘Come, lie down in the back.’ One of the women tried to
    take hold of Tonia’s arm. ‘Until you can collect yourself.’
    ‘I’m all right,’ Tonia said.
    ‘The shock of these things sometimes takes a few minutes to
    set in,’ the woman said. ‘That thing almost hit you in the head.’
    ‘But it didn’t. It only scraped my nose.’ Tonia shrugged her
    shoulders and shook her head. She could not stand people fussing
    over close calls. Didn’t they know that life was one long
    narrow escape?
    The other passengers finally retreated to their seats.
    ‘One more centimeter and she’d have been a goner,’ Tonia
    heard the woman say.
    ‘That girl has nerves of steel,’ the Palmach boy added, shaking
    his head.
    ‘Of course,’ one of the other women pronounced, ‘a person
    should have better sense than to sit there in the first place, especially
    after the driver asked them not to. Some people always
    have to do things their own way. There’s no talking to them.’
    The driver caught Tonia’s eye in the mirror and winked. She
    raised her hands in surrender, tossed the rock out the window,
    and held tightly onto the seat in front of her while she moved
    around to sit there. She opened her book again and squinted, but
    could not read in the dark. It occurred to her that now she probably
    wouldn’t have to go to work. That was almost worth a few
    millimeters of nose. Finally, they turned off the Jerusalem-
    Hebron road, up the feeder road, and arrived at the kibbutz.
    That was the first time she saw him – when she got off the bus
    by the gate of Kfar Etzion. He was working with the group of
    Palmach boys who seemed to spend every waking hour digging
    new outposts along the perimeter fence. He swung a pickaxe
    with steady strokes, and, though the air was cool, sweat poured
    off the taut brown muscles of his bare back. He straightened,
    stretched, turned to take a cigarette from the boy beside him,
    and grinned at something he said.
    Tonia ignored the pain and tore the gauze from her face.
    How ridiculous she must look, her nose all purple. She stuffed
    the bloody bandage in her pocket and pretended to fuss with her
    backpack, but she couldn’t take her eyes off him. He was tall and
    lean. Long brown legs stretched from khaki shorts to thick blue
    socks rolled down over work boots. She flushed, her gaze drawn
    to the backside of those shorts and down those legs. No suntan
    was that even, and his complexion was so dark that she would
    later lie in bed and think of him as ‘that Italian boy’. The yarmulke
    that clung to his thick black hair seemed out of place. How
    could a religious person exude such a physical presence? Maybe
    he wore it to be polite, since Kfar Etzion was a religious kibbutz.
    In profile, she could see his strong jaw line. No need for him to
    grow a pious beard. Tonia always suspected that most of the men
    who had them were camouflaging the lack of a proper chin.
    Then he turned and noticed her. He was not handsome but
    striking, large heavily lashed green eyes above hollow cheeks.
    He stared straight at her, and his face spread into an easy smile,
    both friendly and challenging. Her eyes caught his for a long
    moment, and she felt something inside her turn warm and liquid.
    Then he threw down his cigarette, ground it out, and wiped
    his hands on his shorts. He bent to pick his shirt off the ground
    and started walking toward her. He was going to come and talk
    to her. She felt her face turn red, as she clutched her packages
    and fled. So much for her nerves of steel.

    Read more:
    A letter from Over There
    Goodbye forever?

    Buy The Lonely Tree

  • A letter from Over There

    Not long after the bombing, the mailman delivered a clean white
    envelope addressed to Josef, postmarked Geneva. Inside was another
    envelope, tattered and dirty, from a return address in Bugaj,
    Poland. Leah left the second envelope sealed, as she expected
    Josef home the next day. She glanced nervously at it each time
    she passed the table where it lay, a viper coiled to strike. Josef
    arrived late the next morning and opened it with great care, having
    heard that sometimes people Over There had no paper and
    wrote on the inside of the envelope. It held two stained invoices
    for shipments to a textile factory. The backs of both were black
    with cramped writing, in Yiddish. Josef squinted and haltingly
    read each word aloud.

    Dear Mr. Josef Shulman, I write to you believing you to be the
    son of Sonia (Kaplinsky) and Berl Shulman of Kolo. This letter is
    from Fania Brodsky, born in Babiak –

    Leah gasped. ‘I think I know her. They lived next door to Chava.’
    Josef continued reading.

    – born in Babiak, August 25, 1875 to Isaac and Freda (Solchek)
    Ginsburg and married to Henryk Brodsky, also of Babiak. Your
    letter miraculously followed your parents here to the ghetto in
    Bugaj, so maybe a second miracle will bring mine back to you.
    A man here named Yaschke Hafetz (of Kowak) works outside of
    the ghetto and one of his German guards says he knows a businessman
    who travels to Switzerland and promises to take letters
    and mail them. Of course, this Nazi saint wants much money, but
    I can buy nothing better with my last worthless zlotys than the
    hope that my message reaches you. It is a terrible letter, and I beg
    your forgiveness for each word I must write, but I believe one of
    the few comforts left to us is to know the truth. In October 1940,
    your parents and your brother Daniel and his wife were driven
    from their homes in Kolo to this ghetto in Bugaj. The same happened
    to Henryk and me and every other Jew left in Babiak and to
    those in many other towns. We were the lucky ones. Before this,
    many hundreds of Jews were taken away and disappeared. No one
    knows what happened to them. In the ghetto, me and my Henryk
    shared a two-room flat with your parents. Your father of blessed
    memory was beaten to death by an S.S. devil while on a work
    detail. Yaschke was working next to him and saw this with his
    own eyes. The reason for his murder was that he coughed. Dear
    Berl suffered terribly with pneumonia. Yaschke said the first blow
    was very hard, so your father’s death was quick. Your mother of
    pure soul succumbed to typhus within weeks. I believe she left
    this life with desire for nothing but to be reunited with your father.
    After this, your brother Daniel told me that he and his wife
    had decided to leave the ghetto. I don’t know how they planned
    to do this. He said they were going to escape with six friends.
    I heard rumors that a group of young Jews trying to escape were
    all shot, but I know of no eyewitness to this. Your parents were
    wonderful people and spoke proudly of you every day. It was their
    one consolation, knowing that you and your family are safe in
    Palestine. We were not blessed with children and I beg you to
    preserve the memory of my beloved husband (the son of Otto and
    Ida Brodsky). My dear Henryk suffered from a heart condition. In
    this place there is no medicine and he died in the night. I could not
    bury him, only ask the neighbors to take him down to the street
    where I sat with him until the men with the pushcart came to
    collect bodies. There are always bodies. They shoot people every
    day. I don’t know why. In this place there is no why. They kill us
    as you swat a fly. My prayer is to join my Henryk quickly. I believe
    it was a mercy that your parents left this world when they
    did. It becomes worse here every day. You will live and tell the
    truth of this place. God bless you.

    Josef put the letter down and said nothing for a long time. Leah
    wiped tears away and put her arms about him.

    Read more:
    That’s him, her Amos
    Goodbye forever?

    Buy The Lonely Tree

  • Goodbye forever?

    Old Pista Rácz took hold of the basket of loaves and dragged it into the dark shop. His son Béla smiled in welcome. He took the flat loaves out of the basket and laid them one by one on the shelves. He couldn’t get them up there fast enough: the queue outside the shop was getting ever longer. Pista went out back again and fetched more new loaves. After the fourth basket he sat down for a moment and lit a cigarette.
    The customers stood silently in line, with red-cheeks and glasses misted up, enveloped in their thick coats. He knew most of them and when he gave a friendly nod, people nodded back. He was well regarded. He, Pista Rácz the baker, supplied bread. Only the doctors had higher status. They and Pista kept the silent faces alive. The people said: ‘When the Jews leave, the town will be finished.’
    Indeed, the vast majority of the Jewish community had already left, but Pista had stayed. His family had come to Sarajevo at the end of the nineteenth century, with the Hungarian occupying forces, and had never left.
    His family in the Diaspora, spread through the whole of Europe and North America, wrote long letters in an attempt to persuade him to emigrate with his family. Uncle David in New York promised to send money for the journey, and cousin Saul in Lyon had offered to find him a job. All Pista had done was to write back polite but determined letters, and after Passover he had found a refuge for his wife Agi and daughter Agnes with friends in the countryside. They had not visited him since the summer. The old town was becoming more dangerous every day. But as long as Rabbi Steiner stayed, Pista would stay, and he knew that the Rabbi would never leave the town.
    The queue outside seemed endless. Soon he would have to disappoint people again. Business seemed to be thriving, but people could no longer pay. So Pista accepted everything: goat’s cheese, rakija, cigarettes and even clothes. His customers were now mainly Muslims. The greeting ‘salaam aleikum’ rang through the shop with increasing frequency. The other groups had left, and with them the range of bread on offer also shrank. The matzos, which with approval of the rabbi he baked for exactly eighteen minutes, and the bread that met the requirements of the Koran. But also black Russian bread, croissants, baguettes, English pies and Viennese bread. He had been famous for his Schwarzwälder Kirsch, but now virtually all he baked were flat Turkish loaves. He was supplied with flour by the battalion from the Ukraine and occasionally from UNHCR. Sugar, though, was becoming an increasing problem.
    At the end of the morning, when the last loaves had been sold, Béla pushed the people back. Pista had just put three padlocks on the door and was watching the unlucky ones slinking off with a dazed expression on their faces, when he heard the low growling sound. The glass in the windows trembled and father and son dived under the counter. The blast shattered the glass.
    ‘That was a close one, Dad,’ shouted Béla.
    The old man looked round his bakery for the last time. A few seconds later there was a gaping hole where once Pista Rácz’s shop had proudly stood, smouldering in the cold winter air.

    Interested? So why not buy King of Tuzla

Sample Information

Summary

New – The Lonely Tree has received an honourable mention in the Eric Hoffer Award

Tonia is not sure about living in her country, this ‘not-even-a-country’. This is reflected in her love- hate relation with her father Josef, a most staunch supporter of this promised land.

Why? Well first of all Josef asks his small family, his wife Leah, Rina, Natan and Tonia, to live with Uncle Shmuel and Aunt Rivka in their tiny apartment in Tel Aviv. Tonia thinks it is even worse when he takes his family off to his beloved kibbutz, Kfar Etzion.

Life during Israel’s struggle for independence is harsh. Yet the hikes Josef organises for just the five of them are exhausting but magical. Throughout, the news from Europe is growing more and more alarming.

Tonia creates her own world by finding an ingenious way of enrolling in the coveted Gymnasium in Jerusalem and by dreaming about her ideal home. It is a dream house in America, full of bright lights with plenty of water and a kitchen with a large wooden table to entertain her family.

And then she meets Amos, tall with ever so long legs and dark complexion, her ‘Italian boy’. Both have their hearts set on different ideals, yet they are unmistakably drawn to each other.

They make an interesting pair. Amos Amrani is a handsome and exotic Yemenite who fights in the Jewish underground. Tonia Shulman, whose family is from Poland, longs for security and comfort.

This new beginning is brutally interrupted when Kfar Etzion is besieged. A moving description of the desperate fight for and surrender of Kfar Etzion, a true story, forms the heart of this remarkable book.

In spite of her great personal loss, Tonia is still keen to leave the country. Even though she now knows she has always loved her father, she has not yet understood his true legacy.

Tonia, although still attracted to Amos, also wants to make her own way in life and is not ready to follow this charming but highly traditional man. She makes a great sacrifice in order to realise her dream.

She rejects Amos. In Grand Rapids, Michigan, she turns out to be a successful business woman and even manages to buy her dream house.

But what is a house without family? What about Amos? Tonia thinks it is very unlikely that he could have waited for her.

Will Tonia find her true heritage?

ISBN: 978-1-907320-08-8
Number of pages: 442
Price: £0

Reviews

‘I really enjoyed this novel, for its well-researched depiction of recent history, its starkly honest view of Israel’s birth, and its characters, wisdom and plot.’ –  Sheila Deeth on Amazon

‘a very emotional read.’ & ‘a storyline that builds to a stunning conclusion. Just extraordinary!’ – Wanda Beaver on goodreads

‘The descriptions and the references to historical events are authentic, and Tonia is a fascinating character.’ & ‘It also yields an intimate familiarity with the turmoil during this time, both politically and personally.’ – Uvi Poznansky on Amazon

‘It is truly an interesting and informative page turner – a Palestinian/Israeli War (mostly) and Peace’ – Adam on Goodreads

‘For me this book is one of the reading highlights of the year, a powerful story that stayed with me long after I finished reading.’ – Christopher Fischer on Amazon

‘So, if you are in the mood for something deep, unique, and thought provoking…you may want to give this a try!’ – Steph on her Unlikely Librarian blog

‘Its a wonderful read with a bit of a complex plot which makes it all the more interesting.’ – Pick your Poison Book Review blog

‘This impressive look at a character’s harrowing journey through one of the most tumultuous times in Jewish history is explored in this emotional book.’ Without a Book blog

‘If ever there was a story crying out for someone to make a mini-series, it’s The Lonely Tree – the most moving story I have read in a long time.’ – Catherine Cavendish on her blog

The Lonely Tree is an exciting love story, with unforgettable characters and a thoughtful perspective of the history behind the emergence of Israel.’ – Bookish Magpie blog

‘Politis does a very good job bringing the raw drama of the times and place into bold relief. … History lives and breathes and bleeds in these pages’ – Pam Spence in The Ohio Jewish Chronicle

‘In the end, freedom and security are defined differently by each character, and their paths to finding both make for a book well worth reading.’ – Historical Novel Society

‘Tonia Schulman is a strong young woman who uses inventiveness and hard work to get what she wants.’ – Review by aoli

‘Yael Politis has written an extremely moving portrait of a nation, her people, her enemies and the lives lived there.’ Lisa Johnson on her Seeking with all Yur Heart blog

The Lonely Tree is a breath of fresh air … it has a lot of heart.’ – Gillian Polack on Bibliobuffet

‘Yael Politis has created an entirely believable heroine, who I warmed to and grew to care for.’

‘The writing is very eloquent and the story flowed beautifully.  The narrative is moving, with humour and pathos and is also very informative about a specific part of Jewish history.’

‘I would highly recommend this book.’ – Between the Pages blog & BookRabbit

‘The author’s writing style is excellent, it flows well and tells the story in such a way that it is immediately interesting.’

‘…Yael Politis is an excellent author who really knows how to make a story readable, this is a book that everyone should read at some point.’ – Curious Book Fans

‘The book is well written, with evocative descriptions, gripping action, well-realized characters, and authentic appeals to the emotions.’

‘It is a good read for people interested in family relationships, courtship, marriage, cultural identity, and the birth of the modern state of Israel.’ – Elma Schemenauer on her blog and goodreads

‘Politis’ style is restrained, economical and mostly understated. She is a remarkably unobtrusive author. I believe that you will find not a single dull paragraph in this entire work. It is a gripping insight into the psyche of several different kinds of person, a vivid account of the forces that drive both human idealism and human destructiveness.’ – Gold Dust magazine.

‘It is also a story about the importance of family that is, … a badly needed reminder in our increasingly secular, disconnected world.’

‘… it is the story of a group of people who hate war and take up the sword only because their Arab neighbors refuse to let them live in peace, and a reminder that the most powerful weapon Israel has, is hope.’ – Aaron Hecht’s blog.

The Lonely Tree, movingly written by rising author Yael Politis, is an important contribution to Jewish and Zionist literature.’ –  Jewish Tribune Canada

The Lonely Tree by Yael Politis is a sweeping tale set against the Jewish settlement of Palestine and the establishment of a Jewish state. … This book is a great one for book clubs.’ –  Mother and Daughter Book Club

‘…I recommend this book….. at 443 pages, I finished this book in a couple of days…’ –  Valerie McInroe on her blog Life is a Patchwork Quilt.

The Lonely Tree won at the YouWriteOn book of the Year 2009 awards.

‘The judging panel and YouWriteOn readers alike agreed that The Lonely Treeis really a great read, carrying the reader along with a unique and intelligent story…’ – Edward Smith, manager of YouWriteOn

‘The historical setting, the atmosphere and dialogues are so authentic,… This is a mature, vivid story, great material for a motion picture.’ – Rivka Keren (Kati) on YouWriteOn

‘… writing is powerful, evocative and extremely moving. Tonia is wholly credible … the reader is drawn into her world…’ – Ann Nibbs on You WriteOne

‘Tonia’s character is very well drawn and the reader immediately empathises with her.’ – Elaine Hankin (EDH) on YouWriteOn

‘The tensions of living under constant fear in the Settlement is captured perfectly’ – Neil A Randall on YouWriteOn

‘I was riveted. I was right there in all the action…’ – Erich Orser (Squid) on YouWriteOn

‘…has a steady pace, perfect characterisation and the establishment of the settings can only come from personal experience.’ – Prue Batten (Taggie01) on YouWriteOn