Family Through the Ages: Multi-Generational Sagas: Background information when reading The Latecomers

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The Latecomers

by Helen Klein Ross

The Latecomers by Helen Klein Ross X
The Latecomers by Helen Klein Ross
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  • First Published:
    Nov 2018, 432 pages

    Jul 2019, 432 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Meara Conner
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About this Book

Family Through the Ages: Multi-Generational Sagas

This article relates to The Latecomers

Print Review

HomegoingThe Latecomers utilizes a multi-generational structure to bring the stories of the Hollingworth family members vividly to life. Here a few more novels I recommend that employ a similar narrative structure:

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
Allende's first novel follows three generations of the Trueba family. Esteban, the patriarch of the Truebas, is a proud, unpredictable man who is voracious in his pursuit of power. The novel also follows his wife, Clara, a delicate woman with a mysterious connection to the spirit world; and his daughter, Blanca, a strong-willed girl who embarks upon a forbidden love affair. The House of the Spirits is an enchanting epic that spans lives and decades, weaving together the political and the personal into a story of love and fate.

White Teeth by Zadie Smith
This novel centers around two friends, Samad Iqbal and Archie Jones. Veterans of World War II, Samad and Archie become unknowing agents of England's march into the modern age. Archie marries beautiful Jamaican, Clara Bowden, a woman half his age, while Samad has an arranged marriage which produces twin sons who force him to reexamine his Islamic faith. Set against the intersection between London's cultural and racial backdrops, White Teeth explores the ways in which modern life is influenced by the expectations of the past.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Gyasi's debut novel opens in 18th century Ghana with half-sisters, Effia and Esi. The sisters' lives diverge as Effia marries a British office and Esi is sold into slavery and shipped to the United States. Each chapter focuses on a new member of the sisters' respective family lines through eight generations, from the plantations of Mississippi to Jazz Age Harlem, up until the present day. Homegoing tackles issues of race, identity, and place through a variety of perspectives and time periods.

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
A Spool of Blue Thread opens with Abby Whitshank describing the day she met and fell in love with Red in the summer of 1959. However, the scope of this novel goes far past this one instance and these two characters. The novel spans from Red's parents, newly arrived in Baltimore in the 1920s, to their grandchildren carrying the legacy of the Whitshanks into the twenty-first century. It explores the dichotomy between a polished exterior and the imperfections that lie within.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
When Bert Cousins arrives at Franny Keating's christening party uninvited and proceeds to kiss Franny's mother, Beverly, he sets in motion the dissolution of marriages and the reformation of two families into one. Commonwealth spans five decades and explores the consequences of this decision for the two families' six children. As the children begin to get to know each other over several shared summers, they form a lasting bond based on their disillusionment with their parents. Commonwealth is a contemplation on the far-reaching ties of love and loss that bond us together.

Filed under Reading Lists

Article by Meara Conner

This "beyond the book article" relates to The Latecomers. It originally ran in January 2019 and has been updated for the July 2019 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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