Elle Newmark: The Sandalwood Tree

by Rachel Baker on March 20, 2015

Last night, after a two-day reading spree, I finished The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark. Now, many years ago, I’d read The Book of Unholy Mischief…and LOVED IT. I’d not heard much on the Elle Newmark front after that, and occasionally, I wondered why, but didn’t go searching for answers.

I recently joined Scribd (which by the way is a great service), and ran across Newmark and The Sandalwood Tree. This book was the first book I read on Scribd. I noted the author’d changed the name of her first book “…Unholy Mischief” to The Chef’s Apprentice which I felt was a shame, but I figured there was a good reason and didn’t think too much of it.

Fast-forward to about 10 minutes ago, I sat down to do a bit of research and to my sad dismay, I found out Elle Newmark had passed away…in 2011. WTF?! My first reaction was odd devastation for the completely selfish reason that I will never read another one of her books. My second reaction was: How lucky I am to have read a book I was so moved by without even realizing what I was reading. See, Elle Newmark was sick in 2009, and didn’t allow her sickness to keep her from writing The Sandalwood Tree. When the book was published in 2011, she was already on hospice care.

The book is about love, war, death and the stories that we leave for the living. I’m glad I didn’t know of her passing when I started reading; but now, I’m sure I will re-read the book with this new insight. Knowing now that she was dying when she wrote this book makes an already beautiful story, even more beautiful.

The review I was prepared to write is now completely different. I was going to talk about all the wonderful pieces of philosophy and advice on love, life and acceptance in the book. Now, I feel as if I was given an opportunity to peek into someone’s most intimate thoughts as she wrestled with sickness, death and grief.

As Newmark wrote in the opening to The Sandalwood Tree,

Death steals everything but our stories

In hindsight, it seems she ensured she left an incredibly meaningful story.

If you haven’t read The Sandalwood Tree, I highly recommend it; and I would have highly recommended it before I found out the author died. The story is truly one that will enrich your life for having read it.

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to follow on Twitter; or you can follow her at The Crafty Veteran on Bloglovin

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