The Daughters of Erietown: A Novel
“Connie Schultz has a reputation for writing about everyday people and their lives. With this novel, she further cements her position as a writer of considerable talent and compassion.”
Long known for her insightful and clever commentaries, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Connie Schultz has now joined the ranks of fiction writers. Her debut novel does not disappoint.
Set in northeast Ohio, an area of the country Schultz knows well, the story begins in 1957 and follows the lives of Brick McGinty and his wife, Ellie. It’s the story of a blue-collar, middle-class family that will be familiar to anyone who grew up in similar circumstances. The fathers went to work, the moms stayed home and looked after the house and kids.
Schultz takes readers on a journey from the McGinty’s hasty “had to” marriage, through the years struggling to come to grips with the realization that life just hasn’t turned out the way they expected, the betrayals, the forgiveness, the questions replete with the mantra of “coulda, woulda, shoulda” that can plague life.
There are not many books that focus on this segment of Americans. Maybe it’s because they don’t seem as exciting as New York socialites or west coast celebrities. But these are the folks who make sure the whole thing works. Brick McGinty works in a power plant—the guy who can fix anything. He forfeited a basketball scholarship because he “had to” get married. Ellie, planning to wait for Brick to finish school, found herself married and raising a family. It’s a sad story and predictable in some ways. Reading the book brings to mind a line from Robert Burns’ 1785 poem, “the best laid plans of mice and men go often askew.”*
It is not necessary to have been born in a blue collar or middle-class family, or come from Northeast Ohio, to appreciate this story. The story reflects the tenacity of people who make the best of what they have and spare little time in maudlin remorse over what might have been.
The characters in this novel are not saints—they are flawed and redeemable, pathetic at times and honorable at others. In the end, they are everyone.
This book is a lazy summer day read, rocking on the porch with lemonade at hand and it is a book for cloudy, cold, winter afternoons with a cup of tea. Readers may recognize their own experiences or those of people they know.
Connie Schultz has a reputation for writing about everyday people and their lives. With this novel, she further cements her position as a writer of considerable talent and compassion.
*To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough, 1785