Weekly Geeks 2011-02

I’m not sure how many weeks it has been since my last Weekly Geeks posting, but I thought this week’s topic was interesting.

“What book/novel would you suggest for someone like me, someone interested in learning about your state, city and/or country? What book do you think is perfect for presenting the history and culture of your place of residence in the most perfect and interesting way?”

I haven’t lived in Maryland that long compared to all the time I spent growing up in Massachusetts, but I think I can offer up at least one book that represents some of Maryland’s history and culture during a tumultuous time in our nation’s history.

I’d recommend Jarrettsville by Cornelia Nixon, which takes place just after the U.S. Civil War ends and the south has lost.  Remember Maryland is south of the Mason-Dixon line, which served as a demarcation between the North and South and thus the ideological differences about the legality of slavery.  Jarrettsville is just below that line in Maryland and is a perfect setting for a novel, especially since some of its residents held similar beliefs to their northern brethren that slavery was wrong.  I reviewed this book as part of the War Through the Generations U.S. Civil War reading challenge this year and really enjoyed it, especialy after learning that the story was based upon the life of Nixon’s distant relative, Martha Jane Cairnes.

What’s compelling about this story is that Nixon takes a tragic and personal event and weaves a story that illustrates the continued tensions between the North and South even after the end of the Civil War and the power of love to change someone’s long-held and deeply rooted perceptions about the world.  However, it also demonstrates how insecurity can breed deception and suspicion and tear apart love and family.  Slavery was not just a political issue or a business issue, but a family issue that even led to some men fighting one another on the battlefield and in the home.

What book would you recommend about your state?


  1. I remember discovering that MD was below the Mason-Dixon line when I drove across it to visit my uncle in PA. I had no idea! I still consider myself a New Englander, though.

    I think this is a good choice, since our state is rich in Civil War history.

    • I think its fascinating that the state is considered the South, but that there was still a deep tension between those that sympathized with the North during the Civil War.

  2. Shows what I know! I thought Maryland was north of the Mason Dixon line – I guess I really need to read that book! I can think of tons of books set in the lowcountry of South Carolina, but can’t think of any here in the upstate, and believe me, they’re very different.

    • My hubby still thinks Maryland is a “northern” state. 🙂 I hope you run across a book about your area soon. That would be interesting to see what the differences are.