Conner’s unusual plotline will resonate with readers fascinated by genealogy research, especially as Phoebe and Elliott uncover more information, and their friendship blossoms. Elliott’s somewhat myopic view of William’s life, with a focus on heroic endeavors like a ship journey around Cape Horn, makes Elliott believable and relatable. But Conner hints at Elliott’s greater depth and his capacity to be open to new ideas. Elliott gradually seems willing to embrace her positive, inquisitive nature, enabling him to explore the greater truths of his family’s heritage and write about their remarkable lives along with their human frailties.
Conner’s novel is a moving consideration of how art imitates life, as artist/author Elliott expands his world to include Phoebe and all she’s discovered about how her own ancestor’s impact on his great-grandmother’s life. With his engagingly detailed depictions of Amelia’s harrowing trip west on a wagon train as well as Benjamin’s traumatic days as a Union soldier, Conner offers both a riveting glimpse of the past and what it takes to face it honestly today.
Takeaway: A compelling novel centered on a retiree facing the surprising truth of his California ancestors’ lives.
Great for fans of: Kristin Hannah’s The Four Winds, William Martin’s Bound for Gold.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A