Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Family Way

Just finished re-reading some of Louis L'Amour's Sackett series. One thing I really admire about L'Amour: he can give you the flavor of down home speech without resorting to phonetic nightmare Hicksville. You'll find no character saying, "Wal, Ah figgered yew wuz out thar, cuz Ah smelt yer purty toilet water."

For those who aren't familiar with the Sacketts, they are a family of noble character, if not noble birth, in Tennessee. L'Amour has written about the first Sackett, in England in the 1700's (I think, don't have the book with me) coming to America, and most of the successive generations to the late 1800's. The main family traits are not backing away from any fight, following their honor code, and family loyalty. In the extreme. Any Sackett can call on another Sackett for help, even if the twice-removed cousins have never met. If you're family, you're taken care of.

I like family sagas; watching the generational ebb and flow. Romance is filled with them because families are guaranteed sequels. Any unattached siblings or cousins are automatic sequel fodder, especially if they proclaim they'll never marry. But they are also one area where romance tends to fall flat- when the couple who has been featured in a previous book appears, all is sunshine and light. I'm supposing no one wants to mess with the HEA, but I think an exploration of the happy couple after the wedding or the baby is interesting. I want to see how they're doing. I may want to be sure they'll make up after the fight, but I wouldn't mind witnessing the marital spat.

Lori Wick, a Christian inspirational writer, did a Western historical story where the heroine and hero married young and were separated. When they got back together, he was a Christian and she wasn't. But by the end of the book, the heroine hadn't changed her mind. I was sure we were going to get a salvation scene, but it never came and I was floored. The couple was referenced in another book, 20 years later. They were still happy together, but she was still unsaved. Very brave choice, and one I didn't see coming. I loved meeting the couple again; it certainly didn't ruin my enjoyment of the original tale.

What about you? Do you like reading about dynasties, royal or common?

8 comments:

Alice said...

A long time ago, I read the John Jakes - North & South, but I don't remember how dynastic that was.

And dang, Patrick Swayze looked good on the TV series they did.

Bernita said...

Hmmm. Really depends.

StarvingWriteNow said...

I LOVE the Sacketts! Love Louis L'Amour in general. Yes, family sagas rock--so long as the stories stay good.

Missie said...

Ah never done redd 'bout them Sacketts. Sounds like durn good readin' tho.

p.s. Ah can smells yah frum heah, and yah donne smell like toilet watah.

Robyn said...

Alice, nobody puts Patrick in a corner. I was so sad to hear about him fighting cancer.

Depends on what, Bernita?

Beth, I love that Mr. L'Amour was able to make the stories just different enough that the Sacketts didn't get boring.

They ere, they ere, Missie. Dang good readin!

Manager Mom said...

I just finished a Cormac McCarthy book called The Road. It was amazing, but I'm still not exactly sure what it was actually about...

Robyn said...

I've read books like that. Of course, I was drinking at the time...

Stewart Sternberg said...

I am in the midst of the Sackett saga myself. I wanted to sample westerns and see if this was a genre I wanted to toy with as a writer. I must say, I love Lamour. He knows economy and is able to write pulp without it feeling overly like pulp...at least in his early sixties work. I think, based on his stuff of twenty years later, that sometimes his writing became sloppy.

As for dialogue, I think it's tough knowing how much to twist the language for the benefit of flavor while maintaining the integrity of style. And as for toilet water. I find I like it chilled.