Tracking Your Past

Doris Green

Good news! Family historians who pause now and then to read genealogical fiction are cheering the announcement that Wisconsin author Kathleen Ernst has found a new publishing home for her Chloe Ellefson mystery series. The series follows the heroine’s adventures in solving mysteries set in various historic sites, from Old World Wisconsin to Pendarvis. Number 11 in the series, “The Weaver’s Revenge,” is expected to appear in spring 2021 from Three Towers Press, an imprint of Henschel Haus Publishing, Milwaukee.

Ernst worked at Old World Wisconsin for a dozen years, wrote educational programs for public television, and authored award-winning children’s books for American Girl, as well as the Chole Elefson series. Her research delves deep, including travel, ethnic handwork and cooking that bring a time and place to life and add credibility to her written words.

Reading genealogical fiction can spark our own research directions when facing those inevitable brick walls. Fiction may suggest new research routes to explore. A novel may broaden a too-narrow focus on our particular roadblock and distract us enough to allow a more innovative approach into our overtaxed brain.

Options abound. If you want to read an Irish genealogical story, consider “Shannon,” by Frank Delaney, or “The Irish Inheritance,” by M. J. Lee. 

British author Nathan Dylan Goodwin’s genealogical crime stories are set in England, where his main character Morton Farrier solves crimes as well as his own family history mysteries. For a taste of Goodwin’s work, read a short story free at nathandylangoodwin.com. “Morton Farrier in Lockdown” is an unusual type of story in which you, the reader, control where the story leads. There are hyperlinked options throughout giving you a choice in the plot: Should Morton go to the shop? Or answer the phone? Goodwin suggests the use of a desktop or laptop computer rather than a mobile phone or tablet for the best viewing.

While a significant number of genealogical novels feature British Isles research, you can find fiction focused on other cultures. Chloe is Norwegian and the characters are Swedish in Fannie Flag’s “The Whole Town’s Talking.” Also of interest: “The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion,” in which a leading Southern lady searches for her biological roots and uncovers a fascinating story about the World War II female pilots, the WASPs.

Other places to narrow down your search for your next fiction break include genealogist Lisa Louise Cook’s website https://lisalouisecooke.com/genealogy-book-club and Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/genealogy-fiction.  

Doris Green authored “Elsie’s Story: Chasing a Family Mystery” and “Wisconsin Underground: A Guide to Cave, Mines, and Tunnels.” Now available: “Minnesota Underground: A Guide to Caves & Karst, Mines & Tunnels” is co-authored Greg Brick. Contact http://henschelhausbooks.com, Amazon or your bookstore.