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The Little Reading Nook

The Keepers of the House - Shirley Ann Grau Sometimes you come across a book that reminds you why you love your favorite genre.  From me, the genre is literary fiction and for me The Keepers of The House is one of those books that reminds me why I am a literary fiction reader.

The synopsis of the book is a little misleading.  Yes, it is a story of family and tradition but the racial injustice angle is not a major issue.  It's more like a reflection of the time and location.  This novel spans two generation of the Howland family and their history after they settled in Alabama.  The synopsis makes it seem that Abigail and the Howlands are mixed-race.  They are not all of the Howlands (including Abigail) are white, there is small a branch of the family that is mixed race and their role in the story is not prominent until the end.

The Keeper of The House starts off the the narrator, Abigail, reflecting on how her and her children ended up where they are.  To fully understand the Howland family and the county the helped found.  She takes the readers on a journey through her colorful and rich family history.  A large portion of the story focuses on her grandfather, William Howland, and how he came to father three children by his mistress, Margaret who is black.  The second part of the story is Abigail telling the reader about how her grandfather's past ends up effecting her present and the future of herself, her marriage and her children.

Grau picked the prefect narrator in Abigail.  Her voice was authentic.  It was interesting to see how she developed as a person as the time pasted.  I just can't say enough about her.  I just really liked her and wanted to see how she got to the place in her life she was in when she was introduced in the first chapter. All the characters (good and bad) were well thought out and presented.  Now of them were flat.  They all had good qualities and bad.

The Keepers of The House reminded me a lot of John Steinbeck's East of Eden (which I loved).  The difference being that The Keeper of The House is a much smaller book, without all the details that Steinbeck's East of Eden had.  But they were both tales of family history, how the started, and how they developed.