Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Book Review: My Brother's Keeper

I just finished reading My Brother's Keeper by Marcia Davenport for the second time.  It is one of my favorite novels of all time.  Although I didn't know I'd be writing a novel anytime soon when I first read it in 1992, I did fall in love with the story and a tip for writers that I've cherished ever since.

My Brother's Keeper was published in 1954.  It is the fictional story of the Holt brothers who grow up in an beautiful Chelsea mansion at the end of the Nineteenth Century.  Through a series of insurmountable events, the two brothers retreat into the house they both despise yet neither can escape.

The main reason that I fell in love with this story, is it's historical setting.  Ever since I saw the John Jakes' North and South trilogy on TV in the 1980's, I've been a fan of historical fiction.  (Hence, my inspiration to set A Place to Call Their Own in prairies of Kansas after the American Civil War.)  I do wish there would have been more references to the exact year everything was taking place.  It was more than halfway through the novel that the first mention of an exact year with the ages of the characters. As I grow older, age has become more important to me.  I can definitely relate to characters who are around my current age.  I can relate to characters younger than me when I remember some of the feelings and experiences I had at those ages.  And, because I am such a fan of history, I like to be able to understand the exact lifestyle of characters during a specific time frame.

The other reason this novel resonates with me, is the basis of it's origin.  The Holt Brothers of Davenport's story are based on real-life Collyer Brothers who were found entombed in their New York City brownstone in 1947.  Davenport followed the newspaper stories at the time to learn about the real-life brothers and their situation.  What a fascinating idea for a writer to find inspiration!  I've followed this advice ever since.  In the years I've been actively writing, I've filed away a dozen or so story ideas that have come from newspaper clippings. And this weekend I found an article in the Kansas City Star that has helped me get A Place to Call Their Own jump started again.  Thank you, Marcia Davenport!

My Brother's Keeper is a historic and fictional version of Hoarders.  Anyone who enjoys those types of reality shows will love this novel.  I also enjoy the view of history through the looking glass of the 1950s.
In closing, let me shout out to the universe and thank Marcia Davenport for her wonderful story and inspiration to get my own writing going again.  Make it a great day, everyone!

P.S. This is my third post in as many days.  Thanks for the inspiration new followers on Twitter!

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