Summertime is finally here. If you plan to take a break from your genealogy research, it may free up some time for more leisure reading.
I am an avid reader of all types of books. I often look for novels with a family or genealogy theme. Whether you need a good book to take to the pool or on your vacation, I have a few suggestions.
Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner, New York: Penguin Books, 2000. This book was first published in 1971, so it is an oldie but a goodie. The main character is Lyman Ward, who is a retired history professor suffering from a crippling bone disease. The story centers around his hunt to uncover the story of his grandmother. Using her letters, he follows her travels west in the 1870's and discovers a woman with immense talent and courage.
Isle of Canes by Elizabeth Shown Mills, Provo, Utah: MyFamily.com, Inc., 2004. Isle of Canes is the story of four generations of a colonial Louisiana slave family. Coincoin, who is the family matriarch, was determined her descendants would be free. But her descendants learn that being free in a white world is not always easy.
A Promise To The Past by James G. Brown, New York: Writer’s Showcase, 1991, 2000. After the death of his mother, David Baker discovers a family tradition involving a “stolen family treasure.” He starts on a quest to discover his roots. This quest brings to light a two hundred year old mystery which David is determined to solve it.
A Ghost Upon Your Path by John McCarthy, London: Black Swan published by Transworld Publishers. In this book, John McCarthy, a former Beirut hostage, writes about his journey to County Kerry, Ireland to find his family history. But he discovers much more than his family history. He also learns the history of Ireland and comes to terms with his Irish heritage. Only a Few Bones by John Philip Colletta, Washington, DC: Direct Descent, 2000.
This book revolves around one event–the fire that destroyed a general store and killed five people in Rolling Fork, Mississippi in 1873. Colletta takes a family tale, separates truth from fiction, and what we get is a murder mystery. Sometimes truth can be more interesting than fiction!
The Bondswoman’s Narrative by Hannah Crafts, edited by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., New York: Warner Books, 2002. This manuscript was discovered in 2001 by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. It is believed to have been written in the 1850's by a former American female slave. The story is about her life as a slave in the South and her eventual fight for freedom. The book has a long Introduction which I would recommend saving for last.
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004. A dying man, Rev. John Ames, is the main character in this novel and he is writing a letter to his young son. Rev. Ames tells his son the story of three generations: his grandfather, who was a abolitionist preacher during the Civil War; his father, a pacifist preacher; and himself, a preacher who led a solitary life until late in life.
A Painted House byJohn Grisham, New York: Doubleday, 2001. This is the story about three generations of a family living in a house that has never been painted. The setting is rural Arkansas in the 1950's and it is told through the eyes of seven year old Luke Chandler. Many things happen to his family during the six weeks they are picking cotton. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, New York: Picador, 1997. The Rent Tent is a fictional story about the biblical character, Dinah, daughter of Jacob. Jacob had four wives and 13 children. The book focuses on the many and varied family relationships of this family and the society in which they lived.
Start your list of “What I read during summer vacation” and enjoy.