Etta just wants a home, a safe haven for her family; her daughter Florence wants to make a positive difference in the world. After suffering tragic loss, Etta walls off her heart. Florence opens hers to love again. Though they do not understand each other, both understand the struggle with cultural expectations of the day for women. They also grapple with personal insecurity and faith. Set in the early twentieth century, the stories of Etta and Florence intertwine as each seeks fulfillment. Follow them from Midwest America to the state of New York; from the Isle of Pines, a tropical spot off the coast of Cuba, to the heart of American power, Washington, DC.
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About the Author
Cathy Slusser is a second generation Floridian who grew up in St. Petersburg, but spent holidays and vacations with her grandparents who lived in Manatee County. She moved to Terra Ceia Island in northwest Manatee County in 1979. Cathy fell in love with history upon reading Eugenia Price novels in Middle School. When she traveled to St. Simons Island, Georgia and saw the places those characters lived, she knew that the subject of history could be alive and exciting. Ever since that time, she has made it her goal to share that message with others. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in History from Furman University and a Master’s Degree in History from the University of South Florida. She has worked for the Manatee County Clerk of Circuit Court’s Office since 1984 and is Chief Historian. In this role, she supervises five historical sites, the Manatee Village Historical Park, the Manatee County Historical Records Library, and the Florida Maritime Museum, the Palmetto Historical Park, and the Manatee County Agricultural Museum. Cathy has two grown sons, Rob and Tim, a fabulous daughter-in-law, Miranda, and a daughter of the heart, Christina. She has been married to her husband, Glen, a third generation Floridian since 1981. She enjoys dog training, sewing and writing. Cathy is the author of three novels about Manatee County history and the Atzeroth family, first settlers of Terra Ceia Island, published as a trilogy called From A Heavenly Land and a fourth novel, The Sea Beneath Us about her grandmother and great-grandmother. Cathy is passionate about preserving Manatee County’s past and telling its stories to residents and visitors of all ages.
A lengthy story of family tragedy and extensive emotional distancing between a mother and her children. Told from the diverse perspectives of a mother (Etta) and her daughter (Florence) from the years 1880 to 1934. By way of conclusion, the author offers a helpful chapter-by-chapter explanation of what is fact and what is surmised or fictionalized to create the narrative. This story makes the reader wonder more about the emotional specifics of their own family history!
This is not a light read but it does contain interesting historical detail about U.S. relations with Cuba, and the effects of the ratification of the Hay-Quesada Treaty in 1925 on American citizens who were landowners on the Isle of Pines. The other interesting details of life in Washington DC during these eras are additions sure to please historical fiction buffs.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book. A favorable review was not required, no compensation was received, and all views expressed are my own.
Guest Post from Cathy Slusser
Writing a book about my grandmother, Florence Louise Tichenor Pace was not on my “to do” list. I am one of those people who loves “to do” lists. I enjoy the satisfaction of crossing completed items off my list so much that I add things that I have already done to the list just so I can cross them off! But, I never thought to write a book about my own ancestors.
When I finished the From A Heavenly Land trilogy, a lot of people asked me what was next. I had some ideas, but before I could put fingers to keyboard, I felt compelled to write this story. Maybe it was because every time I look into a mirror, I see my grandmother’s eyes looking back at me. I look very much like her, as does my mother, Emily Pace Bayless. I imagined Grandma saying, “You write about extraordinary women. What about me? When are you going to put my story on paper?”
I could have argued that she had already done an excellent job of that, having left us her handwritten autobiography in a spiral notebook. Once at a historical meeting, participants were asked to bring a memento that we treasured. I brought that notebook. In it, I learned about my grandmother’s tenacity, her creativity and her love of God.
Those characteristics were nothing new to me, having known my grandmother until her death at age 97 in 1992. Grandma was an intimate part of my life. During my childhood, she and Granddaddy travelled once a week to our house where they greeted my sister and me upon our return from school. She made many of the clothes my sister and I wore, including Nehru jackets and pants which were all the rage at the time. She did not like the “loud” colors, but made them anyway because she loved us. I still have a wrap around skirt that she made me in high school.
We spent many holidays and weekend trips with her and Granddaddy at their retirement home on Ware’s Creek in Bradenton and shared a love of books. I knew that I could read all weekend without being told to get up and do something productive. Reading was productive in her eyes. She often gave us books as gifts, but most of the time, we found potato chip crumbs inside, evidence that she read them before passing them along.
One of the stories that most characterizes my grandmother is her involvement with our local health department. She sewed baby layettes that included clothing, blankets and diapers and donated them to the health department for distribution to the poor. She embellished the pastel colored flannel outfits with embroidery saying, “Every baby, no matter what their circumstances should have a pretty, new outfit to come home from the hospital.”
A second story involves me. When I was in girl scouts, I started an embroidered sampler in order to earn my sewing badge. My grandmother taught me the stitches, but it was clear that I was not interested in the work, nor that I would finish it in time to earn my badge. While she finished it for me, she left one flower incomplete as a message that I had not done my part. It is signed FP and CB with both our initials.
My grandmother was a remarkable woman who made a strong impact on me and everyone who knew her. Just recently, I talked to someone who remembered Grandma and told me a story about her even though she has been dead 25 years.
The story she never told us and left out of her autobiography are the details about her relationship with her mother, Henrietta Emily. I sensed some conflict between the two women and wanted to know why. I don’t know for sure that my version of the story is accurate, but it is a good theory.
To celebrate her tour, Cathy is giving away a grand prize of a special quilt handmade by Cathy!!
Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!
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