A Land Remembered by Patrick D. Smith
5 out of 5 stars!
I haven’t read a book this good in a long time. It was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in 1984 and the author has two other books nominated for a Pulitzer Prize as well. He has also been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
It was recommended to me by my mother. We don’t usually share the same taste in books. She borrowed it from a family member, told me how good it was and that I HAD to read it and loaned it to me.
I wish I still had the book because I read it back in March and I’ve kind of lost some of my thoughts about it by now. So late in getting this review up. I haven’t even read a book since I finished this one as I’ve been catching up on my magazine, blog, and web reading.
First of all, it grabbed me from the beginning. I can’t even explain it. A fiction historical novel that had so much intricate detail yet keeps the storyline moving is hard to find. Sometimes they get bogged down in the details and forget to keep the plot going. Not this one. It is one of those books that the entire time you are reading it you can just picture the entire story happening in your mind like a movie. I didn’t want it to end. It could have gone into more detail and just been an epic 12″ thick book and it wouldn’t have been enough for me.
The book starts in the 1960s in Miami and then goes back in time to early Florida pre-Civil War before statehood. I learned things I didn’t even know. I would have liked more perspective about the lives of not just the pioneer men in the three generations of this family but the women too. He did tell her story a bit but I just wanted more.
One of the most fascinating things about the book was the perspective the author gave on people experiencing historical weather systems when they didn’t know what was going on. We know when cold weather and hurricanes are coming now but to read about it from the perspective of people who didn’t know it was coming nor what was even happening was quite interesting. I know that kind of sounds boring but the author makes it fascinating. I promise. Also, it was interesting to read about the pioneer perspective of how farming of oranges got started.
I could totally see this as a mini-series in the 80s. Like North and South style mini-series. But then that makes it seem like the book is cheezeball and it isn’t. I really like this cover, don’t you? It is amazing in its 80s glory.
The Goodreads short describes the book as:
In this best-selling novel, Patrick Smith tells the story of three generations of the MacIveys, a Florida family who battle the hardships of the frontier to rise from a dirt-poor Cracker life to the wealth and standing of real estate tycoons. The story opens in 1858, when Tobias MacIvey arrives in the Florida wilderness to start a new life with his wife and infant son, and ends two generations later in 1968 with Solomon MacIvey, who realizes that the land has been exploited far beyond human need. The sweeping story that emerges is a rich, rugged Florida history featuring a memorable cast of crusty, indomitable Crackers battling wild animals, rustlers, Confederate deserters, mosquitoes, starvation, hurricanes, and freezes to carve a kingdom out of the swamp. But their most formidable adversary turns out to be greed, including finally their own. Love and tenderness are here too: the hopes and passions of each new generation, friendships with the persecuted blacks and Indians, and respect for the land and its wildlife.
The author died in 2014 but his son carries on his website where you can buy all of the books as many are out of print. I’m going to try and get a few from the inter-library loan at my local library. Hopefully, the other books are as good as this one.
The book is also taught in Florida schools and his son travels around doing a “show” based on this book to educate about Florida history.
Patrick D. Smith Biography from Amazon:
Patrick D. Smith is a 1999 inductee into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, which is the highest and most prestigious cultural honor that can be bestowed upon an individual by the state of Florida. A native of Mendenhall, Mississippi, he holds a B.A. degree and a Master’s degree in English from the University of Mississippi. He moved to Florida in 1966.
In May 2002 Smith was the recipient of the Florida Historical Society’s Fay Schweim Award as the “Greatest Living Floridian.” The one-time-only award was established to honor the one individual who has contributed the most to Florida in recent history.
Patrick Smith is the author of seven novels: The River Is Home, The Beginning, Forever Island, Angel City, Allapattah, A Land Remembered, and The Seas That Mourn, and a story collection, A White Deer. He is also co-author of the non- fiction book The Last Ride and author of the non-fiction book In Search of The Russian Bear.
Smith has been nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize, in 1973 for Forever Island, which was a 1974 selection of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books both in the English language edition and in all of the worldwide foreign language editions; in 1978 for Angel City, which was produced as a “Movie of the Week” for the CBS television network; and in 1984 for A Land Remembered, which was an Editors’ Choice selection of the New York Times Book Review. In the annual statewide The Best of Florida poll taken by Florida Monthly Magazine, A Land Remembered has been ranked #1 Best Florida Book ten times.
Smith’s lifetime work was nominated for the 1985 Nobel Prize for Literature.
Previous honors include: Tebeau Prize for A Land Remembered as the Most Outstanding Historical Novel, Florida Historical Society, 1986; Outstanding Author Award, Council for Florida Libraries, 1986; Communications Achievement Award, Space Coast Writers Guild, 1987; Communications Achievement Award, Toastmasters International, 1987; Environmental Writer’s Award, Florida Audubon Society, 1987; FLORIDA TODAY Best Writer Award, 1987, 1990, 1992; Medal of Honor, National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution, 1988; Order of the South Award, Southern Academy of Letters, Arts and Sciences, 1996; Florida Ambassador of the Arts Award, Florida Department of State, 1996; the first Florida Cracker Heritage Award, presented for outstanding contribution to Florida Cracker pioneer heritage, Florida Cracker Trail Association, 1997; Lifetime Achievement Award, Lee County Reading Festival, Fort Meyers, 2001; Florida Literary Legend Award, Florida Heritage Book Festival, St. Augustine, 2008.
In 1990, Florida PBS-TV released a documentary, “VISIONS OF NATURE, Patrick Smith’s Florida,” which portrays his work as a writer and his “on-the-site” research. In 2007 Panorama Studios released a documentary, “Patrick Smith’s Florida, A SENSE OF PLACE,” that has won several top film awards.
In October 1990 Smith received the University of Mississippi’s Distinguished Alumni Award and was inducted into the Alumni Hall of Fame. In 1997, the Florida Historical Society created a new annual award, the Patrick D. Smith Florida Literature Award, in his honor.
By an act of the 2006 Florida Legislature, a section of a major highway, SR 520 running from East Merritt Island across the Banana River to Cocoa Beach, was named the Patrick D. Smith Causeway. Secretary of State Sue Cobb was the dedication speaker with Senator Bill Posey acting as emcee. In June 2013, Smith was selected as one of the Great Floridians. Governor Rick Scott and his wife personally came to his home to give him this award.
Patrick D. Smith passed away on January 26, 2014. His wife Iris still lives on Merritt Island.0