Near the end of this historical novel, a character named Baxter thinks ``could enough ever be said, could language in fact be found to tell the story of our ancestors, and do justice to our memory of them.'' In writing about his ancestors in Tennessee and Oklahoma, the author must have kept that thought before him, because he elected to put together vivid images and impressions for a collage effect, rather than construct a direct, comprehensive narrative. This imagistic, Faulkneresque style might have gained in effectiveness without quite so much genealogy, but certain eloquent passages do kindle the spirit of reverence for the meaning of family. This large family has its quota of interesting and notable personages, among them the two governors who ran against each other in Tennessee's ``War of the Roses'' political campaign. Andrew Peters, Norman P.L., Okla.