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‘Dobyns Chronicles’ starts out with a picture of an Indian Territory Map which I especially enjoyed looking at. This story gives the reader a true taste of what life was like in the 1890’s. The setting is in Chickasaw Territory, North East Texas and in Eastern Oklahoma.
Turning the page from this map to chapter one, line one, the reader is struck with “OLD AGE IS hell, but it’s something all of us have to go through” and shortly thereafter another line that reads “You never know what road life will lead you down. Pa told me when I was a little boy, “You just have to take a deep seat and hang on for the ride.” He sure told the truth.”
Vivid story telling with beautiful old lines like “the heavens opened up and let loose with one of those toad soakers” draws the reader into the time period. Truer than life characters that pull at the reader’s heart strings as their lives show the harshness and simplicity of times gone by. Shirley McLain’s characters like Charley have a strong sense of family, friends, community and faith which carries him from youth to being the matriarch of a large family leaving behind an incredible legacy.
Life in the 1890’s is based on survival off the land and animals like the pigs that provided food such as “crackling corn bread out of the fried cracklings”. This story will remind the reader what travel was like in horse draw wagons that took days to complete 85 miles. Days gone by with the children had three sets of clothes, work/pay clothes, school/street clothes and our Sunday best. Old time remedies like mudpacks to keep the mosquitoes off and the use of Indian herbal medicine. A time when death was only an arm’s length away due the circumstances of the times. A story of a young boy who is forced to become a man, a time when wages were $20.00 a month and a time where horses, buggies, trains, trolleys and carpetbags were of importance. Your will read great conversations, family letters and experience home, heart, love and a home birth produces a son that makes one man’s world complete.
Story telling is an art form and Shirley McLain is an artist. If you have any sense of history and/or had grandparents or someone older tell you stories than this book will make your heart skip a beat and your mind to go in places where it hasn’t been in while. This amazing family chronicle brought back memories for me growing up with an older generation that kept me spell bound by their stories. I have often thought as a society we have lost the art of storytelling. Shirley McLain has brought encouragement back to my soul. She did her historical research and has family stories of her own no doubt cleverly woven into this story.
Theodocia McLean endorses Dobyns Chronicles: A Boy Becomes A Man by Shirley McLain as an inspiring historical fiction that will send chills up and down your spine, keep you glued to the pages and remind you of an era gone by that must not be forgotten. Review date September 2014.