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Thanksgiving by Ellen Cooney: A Book Review

Author: Ellen Cooney
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Publerati
Release Date: September 16, 2013
Pages: 248
Source: I got this from NetGalley as a request from the author in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis: One Family. One Table. One Meal. 350 years.

     This dramatic highly inventive novel presents the story of one family through many generations, as Thanksgiving dinner is prepared.

     The narrative moves swiftly and richly through time and changes as we experience the lives of the Morleys against the background of the historical events. This is history that comes fully alive, for we become part of the family ourselves, sharing their fortunes and tragedies, knowing their truths from their lies, watching possessions handed down and lost forever. All along, in the same house, in the same room, Morley women are getting dinner ready, one part time at time, in a room begins with a hearth of Colonial times and ends as a present-day kitchen.

     Thanksgiving serves up history, in lively, entertaining way that offers an original viewpoint of the everyday concerns of family across the generations.

     My review: Thanksgiving is an American holiday that symbol is a family and tradition. In Ellen Cooney's novel, Thanksgiving, it focuses on Thanksgiving of the Morley family tradition from pre-colonial America to the present time. The story is told in short vignettes from the women's perspective. It is the women who have contributed much to the traditions of the Thanksgiving meal that has been passed down to the present Morley family's Thanksgiving dinner.

     This book is a generational story that starts in 1662 in pre-colonial America from the perspective of Patience Morley and how turkey became the center of their Thanksgiving meal. The novel then continues to tell the story of her descendants. In the background, the major events in American history has affected the Morleys. Some of the events that the author makes references to are: the American Revolution, the Civil War, women's suffrage, WWI, anti-prohibition, WWII, Vietnam War, and the assassination of President Kennedy. It is also enjoyable that despite of the historical references, the author also made modern references like South Park.

     I liked the message of the book, which is that we are still deeply connected to the past. The women in this book are matriarchs of the family. They are independent and are leaders of their household. Each of these women are deeply respected by the Morley men, and it is the women who have made an impact on their family. They are smart and have helped teach the children of the next generation. However, some of the women in the novel are not likable. While these women are strong, intelligent, and independent, some of them can be judgmental, stubborn, fussy, and tend to frequently nag and criticize. These kinds of women I would most likely want to avoid, and I don't want to be near them at a Thanksgiving meal.

     Overall, this is an excellent novel about the meaning of family. This book is filled with family loyalty, humor, and love. The setting is well-developed, and the characters are very realistic. This novel is about how the Morleys still participate in their family traditions. I would have liked this book to start with an introduction of the present Morley family and then go into the pre-colonial times so the reader could have more focus on the contributions that these women made to the modern Morley Thanksgiving dinner. This novel will appeal to people who are not only interested in American history, but also to those who are interested in the importance of family.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


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