Reading By Theme: Feuds And Vendettas

Image courtesy of The History Channel
If you were one of the over 13 million viewers who tuned in to watch Hatfields & McCoys this past week, you were part of television history.  The three-part mini-series, which aired over the course of three nights on The History Channel, is now the highest rated non-sports related telecast ever for an ad-supported cable channel.

The Hatfields and McCoys were real people, and their saga continues to capture the imagination.  The success of the mini-series also illustrates that some of us cannot get enough of feuds and vendettas.  Now that our television screens have faded to black, why not check out some great adult fiction, in a variety of genres, that features feuds and vendettas as central sources of conflict?  Here are just a few suggestions:

Red Grass River by James Carlos Blake

Description: A powerful historical saga of family loyalties and frontier spirit -- of blood feuds and betrayed friendships -- this is the legend of two men. John Ashley is a criminal, a folk hero, whose family hacked out a home in the merciless grass river world of the Florida Everglades at the turn of the century. Deputy Bobby Baker is a lawman born of lawmen. As youths, they were close companions. As men, they are the most bitter of enemies. When John breaks out of prison where he was being held for killing a man, he begins his life of bank robbing, rum running, and turf battles with the Chicago mob. As the 20th century encroaches and the Everglades are grudging way to the rising boom town of Miami, Bobby Baker senselessly pursues his sworn goal of bringing Ashley to justice -- an obsession that will force him to make a devastating moral decision that could destroy him as well as his adversary.

The Quickening by Michelle Hoover

Description: Enidina Current and Mary Morrow live on neighboring farms in the flat, hard country of the upper Midwest during the early 1900s. This hardscrabble life comes easily to some, like Eddie, who has never wanted more than the land she works and the animals she raises on it with her husband, Frank. But for the deeply religious Mary, farming is an awkward living and at odds with her more cosmopolitan inclinations. Still, Mary creates a clean and orderly home life for her stormy husband, Jack, and her sons, while she adapts to the isolation of a rural town through the inspiration of a local preacher. She is the first to befriend Eddie in a relationship that will prove as rugged as the ground they walk on.  Despite having little in common, Eddie and Mary need one another for survival and companionship. But as the Great Depression threatens, the delicate balance of their reliance on one another tips, pitting neighbor against neighbor, exposing the dark secrets they hide from one another, and triggering a series of disquieting events that threaten to unravel not only their friendship but their families as well.

Julie & Romeo by Jeanne Ray

Description: A deliciously funny and wickedly sexy novel of love found (finally!) and love threatened (inevitably) by the families who claim to love us best. Romeo Cacciamani and Julie Roseman are rival florists in Boston, whose families have hated each other for as long as anyone can remember (what they can't remember is why). When these two vital, lonely people see each other across a crowded lobby at a small business owners' seminar, an intense attraction blooms that neither tries to squelch. They're not sure what fate has in store for them, but they're not about to let something as silly as a generations-long feud stand in the way of finding out. That is, not until Romeo's octogenarian mother, Julie's meddling ex-husband, and a cast of grown Cacciamani and Roseman children begin to intervene with a passionate hatred that matches their newly found love, stroke for stroke.

Homefront by Chuck Logan

Description: Undercover cop Phil Broker reunites with wife Nina Pryce, on leave from the army, and together they move to bucolic Minnesota to recover from professional stress. But then daughter Kit picks a fight with the wrong kid on the playground, and the family finds itself up against the Clumps, a notoriously evil clan.

Between Georgia by Joshilyn Jackson

Description: Nonny Frett understands the meaning of "between a rock and a hard place." She's got two mothers, "one deaf-blind and the other four baby steps from flat crazy." She's got two men: her husband, easing out the back door; and her best friend, laying siege to her heart in her front yard. She has a job that holds her in the city, and she's addicted to a little girl stuck deep in the country. And she has two families: the Fretts, who stole her and raised her right; and the Crabtrees, who lost her and won't forget how they were done wrong. In Between, Georgia, population 90, a feud that began the night Nonny was born is escalating, and a random act of violence is about to ignite a stash of family secrets. This might be just what the town needs, if only Nonny weren't sitting in the middle of it.

Bleeding Kansas by Sara Paretsky

Description: In Kansas, three families have coexisted not-so-peacefully for more than one hundred and fifty years: the Grelliers, the Fremantles, and the Schapens. Into their lives comes Gina Haring, a relative of the Fremantles who is house-sitting the derelict family mansion while she puts her own life in order. Her lifestyle and beliefs will put her at odds with her neighbors and test the mettle of a community being swept up in events beyond its control.

Sons of Texas by Elmer Kelton

Description: Mordecai Lewis and his sons Michael and Andrew ride into the Spanish province of Texas to hunt wild horses, planning to sell the animals back home in the Tennessee canebrakes. The expedition proves fatal for Mordecai and leaves the Lewis boys in peril on both sides of the border: with a murderous Spanish officer in Texas and a blood vendetta with the Blackwood clan, a neighboring Tennessee family.


KE said...

I enjoyed reading Julie and Romeo. Not only for the family situation, but also the love story between two older adults.

WC said...

KE: I had several friends love Julie & Romeo for that very reason - the romance between two older adult characters.