Thanksgiving by Ellen Cooney

A charming story that follows one family over a 350 year period: told in the viewpoint of the women in the family, focusing on a tradition or an element of the family gathering at Thanksgiving.  What could have been overwhelming in scope, Ellen Cooney manages to jump forward in time for each chapter: detailing the home and the family, without great loss of constancy.  Part of the similarity appears in the voices of the women used to narrate each chapter: many have a similar style and feel to their voice, while not providing a great distinction between the women, it does give solidity and consistent feel to each chapter’s retelling, even as the focus may vary.

The Morley women are depicted with Cooney’s smooth and introspective style that presents a dream-like quality to the novel, while conversations and historical details are dealt with in a more perfunctory manner, they are fashioned in a way that moves the story forward: there is no extraneous detail or embellishment, each word and phrase is specifically placed to present an impression that arrives fully formed and is easy for the reader to grasp. 

What stood out for me most strongly was the relationship between the women and their family: that adherence to the past while forming new traditions, some lasting generations.  A story that is sure to bring a smile, while perhaps encouraging readers to think in terms of their own family traditions and those who came before, I heartily recommend this story.

Thanksgiving by Ellen Cooney

Title: Thanksgiving
Author: Ellen Cooney
Genre: Literary Fiction
Published by: Publerati
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Pages: 274
Rated: four-stars
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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 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 their possessions handed down or lost forever. All along, in the same house, in the same room, Morley women are getting dinner ready, one part at a time, in a room that begins with a hearth of Colonial times and ends as a present-day kitchen.

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

A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.

What I didn’t mention (and shall now) is that the publisher Publerati has made book buying a feel good while you do good venture.  Purchasing one of their published titles  YOU the reader get a great read – but you are also helping to support furthering literacy through the Worldreader  Organization: a non-profit that serves literacy using technology.  Go on – do good, and enjoy yourself at the same time.  What book lover can’t support that idea?

About Ellen Cooney

Ellen Cooney was born in 1952 in Clinton, Massachusetts. She is the author of eight novels and stories published in The New Yorker and many literary journals. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, and taught creative writing for over twenty-five years, most recently in the writing program at MIT.

She now lives in mid-coast Maine. Her next novel, The Mountaintop School For Dogs And Other Second Chances, will be published in the spring of 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

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