fiction with genealogy theme
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This thread covers fiction (as well as nonfiction). It's a good place to look for good genealogy-related fiction titles...
Rett MacPherson has a series of books featuring amateur sleuth Tori O'Shea, a genealogist/historian from New Kassell, MO.
Great books with this theme are the Vilhlem Moberg tetrology, beginning with The Emigrants and Unto a Good Land. Also Wiliam Maxwell's The Ancestors.
Several books do four generations and many were modeled from East of Eden. Haley's, Roots, sprouted from Steinbeck's creation. Lost Man's River or the trilogy compilation Shadow Country would be my recomendation. Matthiessen has the son of a legendary character study the legend and family history of the father.
Janeology by Karen Harrington is a thriller that examines one woman's personality from the perspective of her geneaology, going back four generations on each side of her family to explore the dark traits she may or may not have inherited.
In full disclosure, I am the author of this work. :) It was fueled by my own passion for researching my own family's geneaology.
I'm not a member of this group, but I'd like to mention William Gibson's (not the sci-fi writer) A Mass for the Dead as an elegaic portrait of the author's family. I'd also like to second the recommendation for William Maxwell. They Came Like Swallows, is a moving novel about the aftermath of the death of Gibson's mother from, I believe, Spanish Influenza.
The Heir Hunter, a mystery built around finding heirs of people that die without a will or family.
Wally Lamb's newest book The Hour I First Believed has a good genealogy subplot dealing with the main character's parents, adopted parents and other extended family. It's a great read!!
Search for the Shadowman by Joan Lowery Nixon is a great children's book with a geneology theme. A sixth grade boy is doing a school assignment of searching his family tree and finds evidence of a man who is not in family records. The boy searches him out. There are several unexpected twists.
Just looking at the books mentioned previously, Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff is one of my favorites. I loved reading the chapters told by Willie's ancestors and watching as her family tree grew and grew.
I read and liked Death on the Family Tree by Patricia Sprinkle, but was less enthused about the second book in the series and never continued after that. G.G.Vandergriff's Tangled Roots was too much romance and not enough mystery for my taste.
"The Winter Sea", Susanna Kearsley. It's Scottish history, two love stories, a genealogy, a mystery and it raises the question that we may be haunted by the deeds of our ancestors. The characters are interesting and there is a real sense of the history and the people.
This is probably one of the best books you will read in a year. Beautifully written. Not a fluffy love story and it will grab your attention from the beginning.
I look forward to more from this Canadian author.
Folly by Laurie R. King
Edited to try to get the touchstones to work.
I second the recommendation for The Winter Sea. I picked it up from an overstock sale table at Garden Ridge, of all places, and I was very impressed. I've always been interested in the possibility of genetic memory -- I think it more likely than past lives -- and this book treats the subject well.
A good set of books, if you like historical war-and-peace multigenerational family stories that are intelligently written, is Elswyth Thane's Williamsburg series beginning with Dawn's Early Light and ending with Homing. There is a strong thread of genetic memory in the last few books. There are some rather dated societal (not to mention racial) attitudes but the books give you an excellent feel for the times and each book has a family tree diagram to help you keep everyone straight.
5 > I loved those books. I was so disappointed when I discovered the series was finished!
This is part of the appeal of authors like James Michener (e.g. Hawaii) and Edward Rutherfurd (e.g. London). While their focus is on a place rather than people, they do tell a multi-generational story about fictional families in the area. Fortunes of those families often change dramatically, just like in real life. Most of their novels have family trees laid out in the opening pages so you can trace genealogies as you go along.
>17 MerryMary:: I was about to add China Court and I was glad to see it's already on the list! I'm only in the first chapter and I love it already. The writing is beautifully descriptive but not overly so. She starts off with a series of glimpses and you have the feel of the family's story as it has played out over time.
I love China Court, and I have since I stole it from my mother 30 years ago. It is so delicate, so layered, so...oh, my. (/gush)
Found another one. The Glass Painter's Daughter. In researching the history of her father's stained glass business, to fill a special request while he is in the hospital, a musician finds the history of her own family.
I just read Briar Rose which starts with a grandmother dying whose identity is a bit of a mystery. Her granddaughter finds a box with old photos and news clippings etc. and the hunt begins.
The Sea Keeper's Daughters is one of those novels that uses a modern story of someone finding family letters, to bring attention to a historical period. In this case the letters were written by an unknown great-aunt of the main character as the great-aunt was touring the Appalachians collecting stories as part of the Federal Writers Project. I liked the historical account better than the modern one, which I found overly melodramatic. All in all the combination works, though. I've only read one other novel by Lisa Wingate. I may have to check out other books in that series.
Member dragonfly has recommended to me In the Blood by Steve Robinson, a genealogy themed mystery. Touchstones are down today, but will try to fix soon.
In the fantasy genre, The Chronicles of the Cheysuli (beginning with Shapechangers!) is one of those multi-generation stories where you move down the family tree with each succeeding volume. Towards the end you have this whole vast family history in your mind to enrich what you're reading about the current generations, who occasionally make fun references to legends from their family's past (which you know better than they do). I think similar series can be found in most other genres.
There's a detailed read-along of the Cheysuli series at Tor.com that's not quite done, one book left to go: http://www.tor.com/tag/the-cheysuli-reread/
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