In this beautifully written work, Andie Tucher considers family stories as another way to look at history, neither from the top down nor the bottom up but from the inside out. She explores not just what happened—everywhere from Jamestown to Boonesborough, from the bloody field at Chickamauga to the metropolis of the Gilded Age—but also what the storytellers thought or wished or hoped or feared happened. She offers insights into what they valued, what they lost, how they judged their own lives and found meaning in them. The narrative touches on sorrow, recompense, love, pain, and the persistent tension between hope and disappointment in a nation that by making the pursuit of happiness thinkable also made unhappiness regrettable.
Based on extensive research in archives, local history societies, and family-history sources as well as conversations and correspondence, Happily Sometimes After offers an intimate and unusual perspective on how ordinary people used stories to imagine the world they wished for, and what those stories reveal about their relationships with the world they actually had.
"A highly original and wonderfully written book. Happily Sometimes After tells the fascinating and often gruesome stories of the author's many ancestors, but its larger purpose is to explore the nature and role of stories in knitting families together across decades and centuries."—Kathy Roberts Forde, author of Literary Journalism on Trial: Masson v. New Yorker and the First Amendment
"Though Tucher is skeptical in analyzing many of her ancestors' stories, she stays focused on how all stories contain the kernel of historical truth. Because Tucher revels in journalistic and playful prose, the book is an exquisite read—so much so that this reviewer fears readers will consider it more a book of fascinating stories than the historical exposition that it is. Summing Up: ESSENTIAL. All readers."—Choice
Selected as a 2015 Choice Outstanding Academic Title