I’ll bet you didn’t know I was a southern girl. And I’m not speaking of Southern California. I wasn’t actually born in the American south, but family roots run deep and I often realize that some of my tastes and preferences pull from my close relationship to my maternal grandmother, born and raised in Mississippi.
My grandmother lived many more years in Southern California than in her home state, but her siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and extended family were still in Mississippi when I was a child, and I made my first 1800 mile visit, traveling in the family car, when I was only five.
And I couldn’t be sure how many times I’ve made that trip since then.
A family reunion in 1998 introduced us to the 100-year old daughter of my great-great grandfather, a Confederate soldier. Somehow meeting her, and realizing that her father had fought in the Civil War, emphasized living history.
There is so much history in the Deep South.
I was very young when I first traveled a portion of the beautiful Natchez Trace. I couldn’t have really understood that it represented 10,000 years of North American history, or even the importance of the highway’s significance in the role of westward expansion.
What I first recall hearing was adult conversation about the Indian mounds. I don’t know what I really thought at the time, but in subsequent travels I began to piece together that the mounds represented an ancient culture and that the entire Trace has a mystical appeal.
And that brings me directly to my friend, author Andra Watkins.
Andra is currently walking- yes WALKING– the 444-mile Natchez Trace as part of her deep immersion into the historical significance of the characters in her newly released book, To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis.
I am so eager to share with you my recommendation for this very interesting book. Released as both an e-book and in paperback, I hope you’ll consider making the purchase and reading this fast-paced tale that doesn’t easily fit a traditional genre category.
The book takes an “afterlife” look at the unfinished business and story of celebrated American explorer, Meriwether Lewis of Lewis and Clark, and the Corps of Discovery fame.
On both Amazon and Goodreads I posted the following review:
I started reading this book on my lunch hour and had trouble putting it down and getting back to work. I relished the strong descriptive narrative, completely fascinated with the way the story unfolds in flashes between the historical past and modern day, and with my imagination stoked, I strategically carved out “reading appointments” to meet with Merry and Em.
I was a participant fellow-traveler along the hauntingly mysterious and beautiful Trace. The highway, home to the famous and infamous, is an important additional character in the story where memories of the distant past blend into current experience, and the reader is treated to the very satisfying challenge of discerning the ghostly past with the emotional present, concurrent with glimpsing potential future events.
I emotionally connected to the characters, and although I wanted to know their end, I was not eager to conclude the book. However, since my interest in Meriwether Lewis increased substantially due to the author’s creative interpretation of this fascinating explorer’s life and death, I will carry this story and these characters forward as I consider reading some of the books she has cited as research materials.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys an element of mystery mixed with strong plot lines and a creative encounter with well-researched characters. A love of American history would be an added bonus, but is not necessary to finding this book an exciting read. ‘To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis’ would be an excellent book club selection. There is so much that would make for a lively and rewarding discussion!
I hope you’ll consider reading Andra’s very enjoyable book, and if you leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or other social media site, you’ll also be a participant in this very exciting book launch.
Read HERE to learn more about Andra’s Trace walk, as well as to learn about an excellent travel opportunity. To enter a contest that would lead you to Charleston, South Carolina, Andra’s current home, find the details HERE.
I am so impressed with Andra’s commitment to this project, and as you may recall, I am still looking for a way to claim her as a distant cousin.
Both of our grandmothers share a family name. Until I can establish clear family ties, I think I’ll draw a dotted line on the family tree and pencil her in. I’d love to claim a familial relationship to someone with her talent and artistic dedication!
I must repeat–she is walking the entire Natchez Trace!
Please take the time to check out Andra’s site, and to learn more about her and her book—then read it and enjoy! You won’t be disappointed.