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Monday, September 16, 2013

Thanksgiving by Ellen Cooney

"Hester sees they need God to look in the direction of this house and set in motion a mighty splash of light, sweeping through this room like a broom." (Thanksgiving, Ellen Cooney)

About the Book: 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.

My Thoughts: It's September, which means that Halloween decorations are showcasing store shelves and television is filled with all sorts of ghosts, goblins, and zombies to scare us. October is right around the corner and by its end, red, green, and gold-glittered everything will be on display for a shopping experience comprised of things we don't need and never knew we wanted until the flashy advertising entranced us into thinking our lives would be improved if only we owned this or that. And somewhere in the middle, slightly less prominent with each passing year lies Thanksgiving in her quiet gratitude.
     Did you ever have a book find its way to you when you were in most need of what it had to offer? Today our lives revolve around "post-worthy" events and activities to share on social media with our "friends." Do you remember when you only "shared" with those that were present? When family dinners were about creating dishes from recipes that had been passed down for generations to enjoy with those around the table and not about capturing a program-enhanced photo of a store-bought dessert?
     Thanksgiving by Ellen Cooney begins in a quiet descriptive of the life and times of early settlers in 1662 Massachusetts. As the years quickly progress in this saga of the Morley family, the characters and the lives they lead become much louder. While the early Morleys long for tools to make life more simple such as the modern technology that fills our homes today but were unimaginable in their time, the later Morleys find themselves somewhat nostalgic about the simplicity and hand-crafted ways of the past.
     Thanksgiving explores the bonds of family over many generations and the roots that ultimately tie them together even as they venture outward on their own. Home is much more than a house. For the Morleys, the house and land they have inhabited for centuries is both their beginning and end. "Pearl says the worst things her own ears ever heard was the sound the door never made, opening to reveal the first Roger, home from the war. The house is still holding that silence, Pearl says." 
     It is the mystery of what really happened within the walls of the old Morley house that keeps each generation intrigued, so many secrets never told, dreams never shared. "And of all those things, done and not-done, when you come right down to it, what have you actually got? You actually only have the things that someone was willing to pass along. And of the things passed along, you have to wonder, how many of them are the truth?"
     Throughout the book, it is the care of the dinner and food preparation that unites each story told up to 2012. The traditional food that remains the holiday staples today- pumpkins, squash, cranberries, turkey, yams, potatoes, rolls- are in many ways additional characters. When the parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme are dried hanging in the kitchen eaves, something magical seems to have taken place. The reader follows the Morleys through their struggles and achievements, love and heartbreaks, births and deaths. And while each of the characters come to life on the page with their own unique personality, it is the house that is at the center of the realm, waiting to open its doors to a new Morley seeking refuse from storm.
     In our ever changing world where each new day seems to process faster, Thanksgiving is the perfect reminder that sometimes all we need to do is slow down, then stop...and celebrate the blessings of family, food, and home sweet home.

 About the Publisher: Publerati specializes in fine fiction for e-books, donating all of its e-books and a portion of its sales to the Worldreader Organization's efforts to provide e-readers and e-books to teachers and children in developing nations for free to promote literacy. To purchase this book for your specific e-reader, visit

** Learn more about Author Ellen Cooney on my Book Beginnings post here.

Book Club Suggestions: For the discussion meeting, have each member bring their favorite Thanksgiving dinner dish and share the recipe with the group; Take turns allowing each member to share what they are thankful for this year; Discuss family rituals that take place on Thanksgiving or heirlooms that are brought out of storage for the special day; Have members research an ancestor before the meeting and share their discoveries with the group.

Happy Reading!


  1. oh wow!! Can't wait to read this now. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Beautiful review. I'm absolutely going to read this one!

  3. Would be a great read for people like me in the Indian sub-continent who are not very exposed to the concept of Thanksgiving as it is lived through there.

  4. I thought this was a beautiful story too. It's such a perfect read for this time of year, as we pull close to our loved ones and our traditions.



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