The Kingsley House

The Kingsley House

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by Arliss Ryan
     
 

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A classic American novel inspired by a real house

In 1843, newlyweds Nathan and Mary Kingsley envisioned a good life in their new house in the pioneer community of Livonia, Michigan. Then a runaway slave on the Underground Railroad takes refuge in their cellar, and Mary must make a desperate attempt to save her wounded husband and the slave from hunters who are

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Overview

A classic American novel inspired by a real house

In 1843, newlyweds Nathan and Mary Kingsley envisioned a good life in their new house in the pioneer community of Livonia, Michigan. Then a runaway slave on the Underground Railroad takes refuge in their cellar, and Mary must make a desperate attempt to save her wounded husband and the slave from hunters who are pursuing them.

Drawing on her own family history, Arliss Ryan has written a richly imagined story of five generations-from Nathan's son Horace, a born schemer who is all too ready to sacrifice his birthright; to Emma, who helps sustain the family through a heartbreaking diphtheria epidemic; to Nathan's great-great granddaughter Laura, who falls in love with a daredevil pilot. By the time the wilderness where Nathan built his home has grown into a suburb of Detroit, the Kingsley House has seen wicked deeds, a summer of lost childhood, a suicide, and a chance to fall in love a second time.

Arliss Ryan vividly brings over one hundred years of American history to life through the unforgettable story of a simple family house and the generations whose lives passed within its walls. The real Kingsley House is preserved in Greenmead Historical Village.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Inspired by the author's own family story, this first novel, spanning five generations of the Kingsley clan, is an ambitious historical saga. In 1843, Nathan Kingsley is proud of the new house he's just built for his bride, Mary, in the fledgling farm community of Livonia Township, Mich.; this abode, which over the years comes to be known as Kingsley House, forms the physical heart of the narrative. A sparsely decorated but cozy farm house for the first generation, it's adversity a grand or noble homestead. Rather, it becomes a well-worn testimony to the Kingsley family's endurance in the face of hardship--the difficulties of farming on poor land, the 1887 winter diphtheria epidemic that takes the lives of two young Kingsley children and renders their mother insane, the family black sheep who connives twice to sell the treasured home to the highest bidder. Ryan attempts to contextualize the Kingsleys' trials by evoking historical elements: the Underground Railroad, the urban development of nearby Detroit and the impact of WWII on American society. But these broader world events are secondary to the churning family drama. Opening with an illustrated family tree, each of the novel's five parts introduces a new generation and centers around a critical character. This structure doesn't help the plot cohere, however, and the novel winds up reading like five separate tales tenuously drawn together by the author's insistent accounting of the names, ages and relations of the characters. While an uneven literary endeavor, Ryan's first effort is a sympathetic, earnest fictionalization of a colorful family history. (Apr.) FYI: The real Kingsley house was removed from its foundations in 1977 and moved to a historic village near Detroit. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Detroit Free Press - Linnea Lannon
"Good historical fiction brings the past to life. In The Kingsley House, Arliss Ryan gives us wars, the Ford assembly line, the Depression, the spread of the auto industry through southeastern Michigan and modern commercial development, but most importantly, she makes us see the past through the lives of good people we can't help but care about."
Providence Sunday Journal - Sam Coale
"[A] charming, old-fashioned, heart-warming family chronicle...Ryan's buoyant, spritely prose does not turn away from death and evil, but her style is so life-affirming that we know they cannot possible lie at the ultimate center of the universe."
Booklist - Patty Engelmann
"The old Ryan home, the Kingsley House, still stands...and now Ryan shares a fictionalized version of her family's fascinating history...[a] wonderful tale about ordinary people who lived more than ordinary lives..."
Historical Novels Review - Sarah Johnson
"The author...has created in The Kingsley House an unforgettable portrait of her own family...All family members are true-to-life individuals, with plenty of flaws and foibles, and as with every family, there's the occasional black sheep. It's remarkable that in a tale of over 400 pages, the story never drags: the action-filled storyline and the personalities of the characters keep it alive. I enjoyed every minute."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781500385958
Publisher:
CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
07/01/2014
Pages:
440
Sales rank:
981,820
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.98(d)

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Meet the Author

Arliss Ryan is the author of three other novels: Sanctuary, The Secret Confessions of Anne Shakespeare, and How (Not) to Have a Perfect Wedding. She lives with her husband in St. Augustine, Florida, where she works as a writer and professional storyteller. Visit her website at arlissryan.com.

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Kingsley House 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is rich in family history and heritage. Nathan and Mary Kingsley are the first inhabitants of the Kingsley House. Built in the 1840's by Nathan to welcome his new bride Mary. Dreams of a happy family living in this home, they never dreamed of all the lives that would be lived through their modest, but cozy home.Each chapter starts a new story to add to the homes history. Always full of love, family, birth, death, trials and mystery of live.It takes you through pioneer times to pre-millineum. This book made me think of my own family hstory and how short time is and how precious family is. After I finished the book, I wanted to start researching my own family history. I loved this book and I encourage anyone who is interested in history and in their very own family history to read this.