Saturday, December 24, 2005

A Splendid Country

During the recent Maysville Festival of Books, historical author T. Austin Cumings made an appearance to talk about his book A Splendid Country, which is a historical novel based on his ancestor's journey from the local area in Kentucky to Texas in the early 1800s. A large part of the novel takes place in what are now Lewis and Mason counties, between 1776 and 1821.

From the Publisher:

I had a difficult time editing this book--because I kept getting lost in the story and forgetting I was supposed to be looking for problems. The author's writing style is very smooth. With his family history as a foundation, Cumings is able to tell the story in an almost heartfelt way, while keeping himself distanced as narrator.

The facts behind the family history have been gently molded by the author's talent in conjuring "what-if" possibilities. His creativity is particularly evidenced in his treatment of the relationship between Rebecca Cumings and William B. Travis. His knowledge of history (which is not limited by any means to Texas history) is not forced upon the reader; rather, it subtly weaves into the fictional story and provides a plausible foundation for his plot and subplots.

I especially enjoyed his descriptors and the way his phrasing effortlessly but accurately paints vivid scenes, so much so that we could imagine being there ourselves. A Splendid Country spans a full century, telling of a family's progression from the Ohio Valley and ending up in Texas at its most crucial hour, during the fight for independence. The general history behind it many of us know, but there is nothing tired in this story: It comes at us fresh and alive and open for reconsideration.

As you might be able to tell, I thoroughly enjoyed the book! I just hope I'm lucky enough to be able to edit another from Tim Cumings. I suspect, however, that I'd have to land a job with a major publisher on the East Coast to be able to do so!

If you missed the book festival, A Splendid Country will be available at the Mason County Museum and it is also available online at

posted at 6 PM by Jeremy Parnell