A large Queen Anne-style house with a distinctive witch’s hat tower something like this is the headquarters for Cassia’s extended family in my new novel, What’s Left. If only this one were pink, like hers.

In my personal genealogy research, I’ve found that brothers in one family wedding sisters in another was a common occurrence in earlier times, especially when marriage fell within a shared religion or ethnic tradition. I’ve been intrigued with the actually functioning within those households, especially when they moved off together to resettle on the frontier. I’ve assumed that each member brought some specialty to the wider relationship.

Thus, in my new novel, What’s Left, having her great-grandparents be one-half of the quartet that founds her family in the New World makes perfect sense. I like being referring to them as brothers/brothers-in-law and sisters/sisters-in-law. It does make for an especially close family.

Having them break so completely with the Old World is another matter altogether, though I’ve heard their argument told by descendants of other immigrant families.

They do far more than build the foundation for the financial security for Cassia and her brothers and cousins enjoy. They establish a unique urban village, too.

As my story unfolds, their influence continues, culminating in their reappearance in the 14th chapter. I’d say they really become characters.


Among the passages no longer needed in the novel, try this:

And they treasure so much the men in their lives never could comprehend, much less value, even as it’s enriched us as a family.

Papou Ari and Papou Perry, in their hearts, think more along the lines of a diner – lots of variety, maybe even open all night, seven days a week.


As she finds many of her family’s photographs in her father’s studios, Cassia views ancestors who worked hard on her behalf long before she was conceived.

What are the oldest pictures in your family? What do they tell you?

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