Date: December 5, 2012 7:00 pm Category: Things to Do Type: Book Reviews
I admit, most die-hard Floridians have read this book. It was printed in 1984. But I couldn't begin the Authentic Florida Book Club unless I started with A Land Remembered. It just wouldn't be right.
If you have any inclination for Authentic Florida, this is the book for you. It's like sitting and chatting with your best friend for hours and hours. You've heard of comfort food? Well this is comfort reading at its best.
In fact, while recently having lunch with my father and brother at Walt's Seafood Restaurant we were discussing the book and it started an entire chain reaction and conversation in the restaurant. Our waiter reported that he reads it every year. The woman at the next table shared that she gives the book away as Christmas gifts, and a full conversation sparked throughout the restaurant – it was like A Land Remembered Love Fest. Really.
The story is about the MacIvey family – Tobias and Emma MacIvey and their son Zecheriah, grandsons Sol and Toby. The MacIveys settle in the Central Florida wilderness around I858 facing rugged adversity - swarming insects, and Florida critters - bears, boars, rattlers and alligators in addition to food scarcity, winter freezes and marauding confederate army deserters. Tobias, a good man with a deep respect for nature – taking only what he needs and no more – underlies a theme and struggle throughout the book. As a reader, the extraordinary gift you receive is the journey into Florida's past. It's as if you were there – absorbing all the magnificence of the raw, spacious land and vast Florida wildlife - which few authors portray as well as Patrick Smith.
The story spans 110 years of Florida history and is told through three generations of the MacIvey pioneers. The book includes cultural and historical events such as early cattle drives, the growth of the citrus industry, the development of the Henry Flagler railroad, the plight of the Seminole Indians and the Everglades. But rather than feeling sad, you feel connection, kinship and respect for human endurance through a kind and gentle read.
I salute our Florida pioneers and all those who settled this state despite challenging conditions - providing us with lessons to protect our beautiful state. Happy reading!