From Publishers Weekly
This enthralling stunner, a good old-fashioned read, may herald the overdue return of those delicious doorstop epics from such writers as Barbara Taylor Bradford and Colleen McCullough. Meacham's multigenerational family saga, set in East Texas circa 1914–1985, charts the transformation of Mary Toliver, a wide-eyed 16-year-old heiress, into a calculating cotton plantation queen as hardheaded as Scarlett O'Hara. Her brother, Miles, goes off to WWI, returns home, but then goes back to France to marry Marietta, a French Communist, leaving Mary to deal with their plantation, Somerset, and Darla, their alcoholic mother (who later hangs herself ). Many years later, Mary, now an elderly, terminally ill widow, resolves to defeat the Toliver Curse and regrets selling her soul for Somerset and giving up her true love, Percy Warwick, the father of their secret child, to marry their friend Ollie DuMont, who helped her save Somerset when Percy refused. Meacham uses three well-balanced viewpoints: Mary's, Percy's and Rachel's, Mary's great-niece, who must confront Percy when she discovers some disquieting family information after Mary dies. A refreshingly nostalgic bouquet of family angst, undying love and if onlys. (Jan.)
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At the beginning of the twentieth century, the small east Texas town of Howbutker is run by two families. The Tolivers preside over the massive cotton plantation of Somerset, while the Warwicks possess acres upon acres of timber. The children of the families, pretty and stubborn Mary Toliver and suave, strong Percy Warwick, are like water and oil. Percy insists that Mary will eventually marry him, and Mary is adamant that she will never have room in her heart for anything but Somerset, yet their undeniable attraction pulls them together. Through a trick of fate, Percy and Mary are forced apart. The consequences of their separation vibrate throughout the years, giving rise to lies, deceit, secrets, and tragedies that their families must suffer through, until, ultimately, they just have to leave it to Percy, Mary, and plain fate to see if they can make things right in the end. First-time novelist Meacham’s sweeping, century-encompassing, multigenerational epic is reminiscent of the film Giant, and as large, romantic, and American a tale as Texas itself. --Hilary Hatton