Backlist Review: Cataloochee

Between the Civil War and the government’s creation of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park lives were lived in Cataloochee, a town in the mountains of North Carolina.


You can visit when the roads are open. It’s a great alternative to the crowded main parts of the park. And if you do go read this book, because the multi-generational family saga is the perfect compliment to a day spent exploring the trails, crossing the creek, and exploring abandoned homesteads.

The book begins with gunshots. In the chapters that follow we go back and learn the story of Ezra Banks, and the years of hard work and darkness that brought the shots on. This book is everything I love in a novel. It’s a slow build of a multi-generational classic.

For fans of Cataloochee:

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REVIEW: The Green Road by Anne Enright

I read about The Green Road on Library Thing, and thought it sounded like the perfect book for me. I love Irish family sagas. Then I picked the book up from the library, and saw it had been longlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize. I avoided it for a while then because I assumed that meant unlikable characters with an unresolved ending. It was only a looming library due date with a holds list three people deep that kept me from renewing this book that got me to give it a try.

An old picture from a trip to Western Ireland I took in college. The trip that started my love for Irish family sagas. 

An old picture from a trip to Western Ireland I took in college. The trip that started my love for Irish family sagas. 

You know what? The characters were pretty unlikable, and the ending was a bit unresolved, but I still loved this book. Despite their total selfishness, the characters read true, and Enright's writing was beautiful and efficient. She used just the right words. She let you know what was going on in the way F. Scott Fitzgerald told you all about Jordan Baker just by the way she drove.

Don't be scared off by this book's success. The Green Road is exactly the Irish family drama you were hoping for.

REVIEW: The Secrets of Happy Families (For Real)

Tis the season for family disharmony. Before you get divorced/abandon your home and kids/vow never to celebrate another holiday with your in-laws again, try implementing some of the tips from The Secrets of Happy Families from Bruce Feiler.

I was skeptical at first, but I followed some of Feiler's tips on a recent family vacation. No joke, it was the best one we ever had. Why? Because instead of all sitting around trying to fulfill everyone's vision of a perfect vacation we banded together to dig a huge hole in the sand, and to rescue a rubber chicken from a tree. That sentence would make sense if you had read this book. Well, maybe not, but it worked, and I would have never instigated this kind of nonsense if it weren't for this wonderful, wonderful book.

If your family is already perfect, try this book:

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