Thursday, May 31, 2012

Review of Footprints in the Ozarks, A Memoir by Ellen Gray Massey

A few months ago, Ozarks writer Ellen Gray Massey wrote and asked if I would be interested in reading and reviewing her memoir, Footprints in the Ozarks.

It took less than a minute to reply, "Of course!"

At that time I had a list of books I'd already been assigned to read and review, along with deadlines for several writing projects, but Ellen's request was a no-brainer.

Full disclosure: I've known Ellen for about 15 years, and for as long as I've known her she has been an inspiration to me and other writers. She is kind and generous and wise, as well as a talented writer and storyteller and a respected authority on the Ozarks.

After explaining my workload whining about my workload, I wrote that most likely I couldn't finish my review until May. She graciously answered that would be no problem and promptly sent me a signed copy of her memoir. While Ellen gave me a copy of her memoir, she did not pay me to review her book, and I did not promise to give it a favorable review--just an honest one--by the end of May.

True to my word, on this last day of May, I am reviewing Ellen's delightful memoir.

Footprints in the Ozarks is a collection of short essays that capture the essence of the Ozarks, its people, its traditions, and its impact on American culture. Ellen's Ozarks story opens in December, 1944, with a story about her future husband Lane Massey. Dedicated to the memory of Lane, Footprints in the Ozarks is a  personal glimpse into Ellen's years as a wife, mother, teacher, writer, and Home Agent for the Missouri Farm Bureau.

The memoir is divided in three parts: Home Agent in Lebanon, The Farm, and Back in Lebanon. The book's primary setting is Laclede County, Missouri, around the town of Lebanon, Missouri, located along historic Route 66, now Interstate 44.

As you read about Ellen's life, you'll learn about Ozarkians, Ozarks customs and sayings, and a rural lifestyle in bygone days --- a time of Shivarees, homemade rag rugs, pie suppers, and one-room schoolhouses. The photos enhance the memoir and give an intimate portrait of Ellen and her family.

While Ellen Gray Massey's footprints mark her life's work, her memoir Footprints in the Ozarks will leave an indelible impression on readers who want to learn about the people and the place --- the mysterious, magnificient, Missouri Ozarks.

15 comments:

  1. I love books that capture a culture. This one sounds like a gem. Shivarees? I may have to read just to find out what that is.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Tammy,
      The book is an Ozark gem, and so is Ellen.
      Donna

      Delete
  2. I've heard of shivarees, but my memory is a bit foggy. Memoir is my favorite genre, so I might have to put this on my reading list this summer.

    Thanks for the review, Donna. I always appreciate hearing of a good book (as my pile gets higher).

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    Replies
    1. Hi Sioux,
      You are welcome.
      A well written and interesting memoir like Ellen's is like receiving a personal history lesson.
      Donna

      Delete
  3. This book sounds like something right up my alley. I love memoir.

    I was teaching at Steelville High School when I got married. My principal promised (threatened?) that he and the faculty were going to Shivaree me and Hick on our wedding night. I didn't know him well enough at that time to guess if he was joking or serious. It kind of made me wonder whether getting married over Thanksgiving weekend was such a good idea.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Val,
      What a wonderful memory. You need to write an essay about that one.
      Donna

      Delete
  4. Books sounds great and I have read her books before and never disappoiinted. I have checked amazon already and the book is not available there right now. Other suggested places?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Claudia,
      Ellen tried unsuccessfully to post in the Comments section, so she e-mailed me an answer to your question.

      Donna
      ***

      "It's supposed to be at Amazon, but people can get it from me. It costs $17.99 plus $3.00 postage--cash or check. My address is 126 Maple Drive, Lebanon, MO 65536. They can also order it from Ozark Writers, Inc's website which is http://www.owinc.webs.com

      ***
      Thanks, Ellen

      Delete
  5. Sounds like a wonderful book. I grew up in the Ozarks and that's where I left my heart.

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  6. The Ozarks are indeed a fascinating place. This memoir sounds like a winner!

    Pat
    Critter Alley

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  7. Your review has made me homesick for days gone by.

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  8. Hi Linda,
    I figured you had a special place in your heart for the Ozarks.

    Hi Pat,
    I think you'd enjoy it.

    Hi Clara,
    Thanks for your comment.
    After reading it I re-read my post and realized I had a typo, or maybe I invented a new word. "bydone days"

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  9. Sounds like a good book. My friend I go to church with was telling me that she was shivareed when she got married. Too bad the custom doesn't still exist.

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  10. I do believe I've seen Ellen before at conferences - your review makes me want to check out her memoir. Thanks.

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  11. Read it! You'll never be sorry...I promise!

    ReplyDelete

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