Sunday, April 12, 2009

Another "Novel" Approach to Understanding Florida: A Great Read for Your Sanibel Vacation

In earlier posts I have mentioned books specifically about Sanibel Island or using the Island for its backdrop.

Because having a great read on vacation is de rigueur, I delight in finding just the right book when vacationing on the Island.

One such novel, based on the history of Florida, is A Land Remembered by Patrick Smith. I read this engaging publication several years ago and was so smitten with the story I bought copies for our Sanibel vacation rental properties. Each time we visit, I have to replenish the supply as renters obviously find the story so compelling they often take the book with them.

And I don't blame them. There is nothing more frustrating than reading half a great book on vacation that does not belong to you! And Sanibel is a wonderful place to lose yourself in a wonderful read. It's hard to let go.

In this best-selling novel, the author tells the story of three generations of the MacIveys, a cattle raising 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 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 a 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 Tebeau Prize as the Most Outstanding Florida Historical Novel.
Buy the book. Take it to the beach. Read it at the pool. Take it home again. It's a terrific story and helps to put Sanibel in a whole new context.

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