I cannot say enough good things about this book. Prior to reading this compelling novel, A Land Remembered, by Patrick D. Smith, I believed I understood the resistance of native Floridians to the droves of newcomers. I was wrong. There is so much more than overcrowding, and a clash of Southern vs. Northern cultures and accents.
It also reminded me that, 150 years ago, people died from things we don’t even think about today. Things like being gored by a bull in your own backyard, or drowning when your horse stumbles when crossing a river causing you to drown because your foot got caught in a stirrup, and bushwhackers stealing your food and livestock, then burning your home and barn. What’s a bushwhacker? Those are groups of deserters from the War Between the States who became homeless gangs of criminals.
A Land Remembered spans three generations of the McIvey family, beginning in 1858 as Tobias and Emma McIvey, and their young son, Zech, who, after abandoning their Georgia farm in order to escape the war, are desperately trying to survive on their small homestead in what is now the Ocala National Forest. The sweeping saga continues to Zech’s son, Sol McIvey, who became a Miami area real-estate tycoon.
Smith takes his readers on a guided tour of old Florida, before the days of tourist attractions, and theme parks, to the beginning of the cattle industry that, still today, makes Florida the largest cattle-producing state in the U.S. The story opens with Sol’s impending death in 1968, as he looks back over his and his family’s lives after Tobias brought the family from Georgia. Near death, Sol regrets his part in developing so much of south Florida — development that still causes ecological problems, particularly with water, that will continue to be burdensome to future generations.
What Makes This Book Reviewer Grumpy?
Not a thing!