All posts tagged: family history

Lush and graceful reflections on life, love, family, and nature–it’s about the South and the interstitial space between humans and the natural world

By Leslie Lindsay  From NYT opinion writer Margaret Renkel comes the most luscious and unique portrait of a family, how it’s touched by love and loss, and also nature.  ~WeekEND Reading~ The Today Show’s “Read With Jenna”  book-club pick for December A finalist for the Southern Book Prize Highlighted in year-end lists by The A.V. Club, the New Statesman, the New York Public Library, the Chicago Public Library, BookPage, the Washington Independent Review of Books, and Iowa Public Radio Growing up in Alabama, Margaret was a devoted reader, an explorer of riverbeds and red-dirt roads, and a fiercely loved daughter. Here, in brief essays, she traces a tender and honest portrait of her complicated parents—her exuberant, creative mother; her steady, supportive father—and of the bittersweet moments that accompany a child’s transition to caregiver. Braided into the overall narrative, she offers observations on the world surrounding her suburban Nashville home. There’s love and heartache, detailed and gorgeous descriptions of nests, wings, red-tailed hawks, fluffy bunny fur, even snakes and orb spiders, bees, ladybugs, more. These two threads–the human connection and the animal world–haunt and harmonize …

What if you learned you had a relative you knew nothing about? And he was a Holocaust victim? Margaret McMullan delves into the ‘unspoken history’ in her moving and illuminating memoir, WHERE THE ANGLES LIVED

By Leslie Lindsay  Historical, family-oriented, and yet universal, Margaret McMullan delves into a little-known piece of her family’s heritage and brings it into the light.  I first ‘met’ Margaret McMullan with her interlinked short stories of another tragedy—the devastating effects of Hurricane Katrina, AFTERMATH LOUNGE—and then later, with her anthology, EVERY FATHER’S DAUGHTER. She’s also the author of seven other books, and her writing has appeared in USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, Glamour, and others. WHERE THE ANGELS LIVED: One Family’s Story of Loss, Exhile, and Return (Calypso Editions, May 2019) begins in 2008 with the author’s visit to Israel’s Holocaust Museum, where she learns about a long-lost relative by the name of Richard. McMullan is thrust into a mystery–just who was this man and why hasn’t she learned of his existence before? She feels compelled to do some digging, tirelessly searching the history of her ancestors, the Engel de Janosis. Receiving a Fulbright cultural exchange, McMullan and her family (husband and teenage son), relocate to Pecs, Hungary to teach (and research Richard’s life) at a Hungarian University. This town is now largely …

Joanna Goodman on her new novel, HOME FOR UNWANTED GIRLS, repeating family history, & more

By Leslie Lindsay  More than the title suggests, THE HOME FOR UNWANTED GIRLS is a multigenerational family saga focusing on historical events in the Canadian Province of Quebec. Inspired by real-life events, the author draws on her mother’s childhood and spins a tale that is oh-so-good, but also heartbreaking. In the 1950s, the French and English Canadians tolerate each other at best, but there’s hatred brewing under the surface. Maggie Hughes’s father has ambitions for his daughter, and they don’t include anything to do with the French boy, Gabriel Phenix. But Maggie has other plans. When she gets pregnant at 15 gives birth to Elodie, her parents force her to give up the baby and come back home. Maggie’s heart will forever be with Gabriel. Told in alternating POVs between Maggie and her daughter, Elodie, we get glimpse into both of their harsh lives. Maggie is married to a businessman but the marriage lacks passion. Elodie is being raised in an orphanage at the cruel hands of the nuns until one day, it’s decided the …

Wednesdays with Writers: Ella Joy Olsen talks about the fascination of genealogy, a tie-in from her first book; grief, hope, love, pre-pub jitters, the development of a title and so much more in her new book, WHERE THE SWEET BIRD SINGS

By Leslie Lindsay  A thoughtful and wholesome story about love, grief, hope, resilience, but also family history and genealogy. WHERE THE SWEET BIRD SINGS (Kensington, August 29 2017) is Ella Joy Olsen’s second novel, and you’ll find a lovely little twist between the two titles, though they are intended as stand-alone reads.   Emma Hazelton and her husband are at a crossroads since the death of their darling—and much wanted child, Joey—died due to a rare genetic disease. Emma’s been trying to move on, but it’s just so hard. Meanwhile, Noah is ready for them to try again for another baby. It’s been a year, but…Emma agrees to help her mother sort through her recently-deceased grandfather’s belongings and she stumbles across a perplexing 1916 wedding photograph. WHERE THE SWEET BIRD SINGS is told entirely in Emma’s POV, whereas Olsen’s first book, ROOT PETAL THORN was told by multiple narrators. WHERE THE SWEET BIRD SINGS is about family, deeply hidden and buried secrets, hope, and the interesting marriage of family history/ancestry with genealogy. I found the story–and mystery–richly …