I grew up on and around the Cheapeake Bay. At some point I tackled reading Chesapeake, by James Michener. It’s a huge tome. It’s sheer size is intimidating. Let me tell you something. Once you start reading you can’t put it down. Having a connection to the area made this monumental story feel close to my heart. For many years this was my absolute favorite read. If I could only recommend a few books to you, Chesapeake would be among them.
I’ve since read more of Michener, and really enjoyed The Caribbean.
In this classic novel, James A. Michener brings his grand epic tradition to bear on the four-hundred-year saga of America’s Eastern Shore, from its Native American roots to the modern age. In the early 1600s, young Edmund Steed is desperate to escape religious persecution in England. After joining Captain John Smith on a harrowing journey across the Atlantic, Steed makes a life for himself in the New World, establishing a remarkable dynasty that parallels the emergence of America. Through the extraordinary tale of one man’s dream, Michener tells intertwining stories of family and national heritage, introducing us along the way to Quakers, pirates, planters, slaves, abolitionists, and notorious politicians, all making their way through American history in the common pursuit of freedom.
Praise for Chesapeake
“Another of James Michener’s great mines of narrative, character and lore.”—The Wall Street Journal
“[A] marvelous panorama of history seen in the lives of symbolic people of the ages . . . An emotionally and intellectually appealing book.”—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Michener’s most ambitious work of fiction in theme and scope.”—The Philadelphia Inquirer
“Magnificently written . . . one of those rare novels that is enthusiastically passed from friend to friend.”—Associated Press
Later in life I moved to Florida. I quickly absorbed all I could find about local history and folklore. Somewhere along the way I stumbled on to A Land Remembered, by Patrick Smith. It entranced me. Another truly classic historical novel. Again, if I was limited on reading recommendations to you, A Land Remembered would be among them.
n this best-selling novel, Patrick Smith tells the story of three generations of the MacIveys, a Florida family who battle the hardships of the frontier to rise from a dirt-poor Cracker life to the wealth and standing of real estate tycoons. The story opens in 1858, when Tobias MacIvey arrives in the Florida wilderness to start a new life with his wife and infant son, and ends two generations later in 1968 with Solomon MacIvey, who realizes that the land has been exploited far beyond human need. The sweeping story that emerges is a rich, rugged Florida history featuring a memorable cast of crusty, indomitable Crackers battling wild animals, rustlers, Confederate deserters, mosquitoes, starvation, hurricanes, and freezes to carve a kingdom out of the swamp. But their most formidable adversary turns out to be greed, including finally their own. Love and tenderness are here too: the hopes and passions of each new generation, friendships with the persecuted blacks and Indians, and respect for the land and its wildlife. A Land Remembered was winner of the Florida Historical Society’s Tebeau Prize as the Most Outstanding Florida Historical Novel.