Both in fiction and in nonfiction, I tend not to be into "sweeping family sagas that span the generations" (as they so often seem to be described). Authors' celebrations of their own ancestry and heritage seldom fascinate me as much as it does them. That's why I was pleasantly surprised by what a good read "Kentucky Clay" turned out to be. While I'm not sure how accurate the description of the family as a "dynasty" really is, it seems pretty clear they certainly thought (think?) of themselves that way, and that's part of what makes this volume sociologically as well as historically and genealogically interesting. This is not history on a big stage the way looks at Kennedys or Adamses or Bushes turn out to be, but within their own context the Clays, Motts, Batemans, and their extended clan are certainly worth the attention. Readers with an interest in local history, Kentucky, or even just exploring how this kind of writing can be done well would definitely find "Kentucky Clay" worth checking out.
The author's photo on the inside back flap shows a strong, handsome older woman with striking dark eyes and a faint smile that speaks of wry humor and dry pain. In "Kentucky Clay", we will learn that the eyes, along with the humor and the pain, are family traits well-earned and well-honored. Bateman has ancestors from both the Clays (founding families of Virginia and Kentucky) and Cecils (founding families of Maryland and Virginia), placing her in the direct lineage of American … more
"With wit and candor, Bateman reveals her lifelong struggle to avoid the disturbing patterns of [her family's colorful] legacy, while mining the emotional gifts passed on to her." —Nancy Horan, author, Loving Frank
"With storytelling skill, historical research, and a questioning imagination, Katherine Bateman follows her family's odyssey in America since the seventeenth century." —Jean B. Lee, professor of history, University of Wisconsin-Madison
"This riveting book is at once a journey into centuries of the American past and a deeply personal family saga, coupling the author’s meticulous historical research with her passionate curiosity and vivid imagination." —Ronne Hartfield, author, Another Way Home: The Tangled Roots of Race in One Chicago Family
"A most readable family history." —The Decatur Daily