Ellen Cooney’s Thanksgiving follows one family through 350 years of Thanksgiving preparations. One family, one house, one room, one meal. Cooney’s book connects generations, shares family joys and sorrows and as family items and heirlooms are handed down and sometimes lost, reminds us what is important in life.
I have to admit that the first time I started to read this (back in 2013) I was bored early and put it away to try again. I’m glad I waited and tried again because this time, perhaps fueled by my own interest in family history and genealogy, I was more interested in making the connections and following the family.
Seeing how little humans change over the centuries is fascinating. Our technology changes, and perhaps our perception of how we fit into the world changes, but at our core we, as humans, have many of the same concerns, loves, fears, and fervor now as we did 350 years ago.
Cooney manages to give us a little bit of the historical backdrop to each chapter (which features a new generation in the family line) as well as something that has a family member concerned.
One of my problems eight years ago when I tried reading this is that I was that I was not realizing that we were not going to be seeing the same people from chapter to chapter – that this was not a book about a person, but a book about a family tree. It’s definitely a different sort of read than what I am typically used to. This is ‘big picture – compare and contract with lots of glimpses at many individual stories’ rather than the more typical ‘one story with maybe a couple of subplots pulled together by one or two individuals.’
I liked that each chapter was titled for an item on the Thanksgiving table which helps pull together the metaphor of family gathering around the holiday table – even though the family is separated by time.
This is clever, tender, and well written, but ultimately it is a book that pulls together an idea and not a story, which is maybe why I was left just a little unsatisfied as I finished. Still, I give it four stars because I liked the message and the way it was done.
Looking for a good book? Thanksgiving
, by Ellen Cooney, is a book about family and history and the coming together, using the American Thanksgiving meal as the common event between the generations.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Ellen Cooney
ebook, 248 pages