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Friday, October 25, 2013

Thanksgiving by Ellen Cooney

ThanksgivingThanksgiving by Ellen Cooney
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**Thanksgiving** by Ellen Cooney
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I can define this book in 6 words: *She Had Me At The Turkey* That means from the very beginning I was hooked. Not after meeting all the characters. Barely after settling into Cooney's writing style. Nearly before I could notice anything else about the book. Nope. From the very beginning. And the rest of the way, throughout the stories of individual women all from the same family, I kept feeling that I had to find out what happens next.

As well as being Women's Lit, this is also a historical novel. It begins in 1662 with Caleb and Patience Morley. They are newly weds, and they don't have much in the way of worldly goods. This doesn't bother them very much, but Patience would dearly love to have glass panes for the windows of their small home. Her father-in-law promised to get them for her, but since he's made it well known that he doesn't approve of her marriage to Caleb, even though he's the one who forced it to occur sooner than expected, he's dragging his feet on having the glass delivered. Religion played a large part in how people perceived events back in 1662, and that influence became more and more obvious as more information is revealed about The Morley Family both in the past and in the future. Caleb's father is particularly harsh in his judgments, the results of which are passed along to his own wife and children. The impact of those judgments are revealed later in the story.

**Thanksgiving** is made up of chapters, each with the name of a dish served at the Thanksgiving dinner, and in addition, these chapters label the dates in which future family members relate to those from the family's past. Cooney does an excellent job of making each new generation different from the one before it in many ways, but the overall sense of these people sharing a heritage is also well preserved through the years. Without fail, no matter what I thought about each newly introduced woman when I began her chapter/dish/story, by the time I'd finished that section I admired her. None of them would have claimed to be particularly strong, but that's not how I ended up viewing them. They all deserved respect for a life's job well done. Some stories were funny, some were sad, and some were downright heartbreaking. That's the kind of diversity I look for in what I read, and **Thanksgiving** certainly delivered. So many issues were presented as well. Caring for the elderly, unwed motherhood, widows, developing skill sets for specific purposes other than vocational; all these and more are explored from a deeply felt human perspective. And all of it serves to enrich the book in interesting ways.

There are also some surprises; twists and turns that often showed no matter how far we've come in years, some things never change. There's also the matter of stories handed down for generations. How those stories are altered in small and very big ways. Everything Cooney put into this family is there for a reason, and I enjoyed what those reasons revealed later.

If I were invited to someone's house over the up coming Holidays, no matter what kind of observance is being shared, I would give the hostess a copy of this book as a thank you. I would also recommend it to my friends so they could do the same. It's that good!

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