Summer Reading 2022

Summer Reading 2022

Summer is that glorious season when we relax from life's usual routine to refresh and recharge for the coming school/work/volunteer year. The kids and grandkids are out of school. The mountains, beaches, and rolling hills are beckoning. The bicycles are loaded on the car, the swimsuits are packed, suitcases loaded, and we are off to a spot which promises a break from the everyday schedule.

The summer vacation is the time to curl up with a good book in a cottage or on the beach, unwind with a new movie, play a favorite board game, or listen to the waves break along the coast. It's summer and we need its slower rhythms.

Miguel's Bay is a great book to bring along on your trip. Its warm-hearted story about a family, a geographical area, and historical time period make it the perfect mode of transportation ferrying you away from the twenty first century into the past. 

Peggy Donoho and Ron Prouty are no strangers to Miguel Bay. Peggy is the great-great granddaughter of Miguel and Fredericka Guerrero, the married couple who the story centers around. Miguel Bay near Terra Ceia, Florida, is named after Miguel. Ron Prouty is a multi-media designer with thirty years at the Tampa Bay Times and a life-long resident and lover of  Manatee County history.

Since my husband and I are new residents to Florida, I was thrilled to meet Peggy and Ron when they came to St. Augustine on a research mission. When they put Miguel's Bay into my hands and told me to keep it as a gift, I was pleasantly surprised.   

When I picked up the book to read it, I wondered who wrote what? I learned later that Peggy wrote all the chapters related to Fredericka, and Ron wrote those related to Miguel. The story begins with Miguel, a sailor/fisherman, recalling his life in Menorca as he leaves for his new life in America. His adventures take him to the west coast of Florida, north of the Manatee River and the Island of Terra Ceia via New Orleans.  If you check out Terra Ceia on a Florida map, you will find a bay named after Miguel.

Miguel is not so much looking for adventures as he is looking for roots. The roots one puts down when you have matured; be it 20 or 50! He wonders if he will ever find the right woman. He finds the English language hard to learn. Perhaps he is destined to grow old alone.

Fredericka has the opportunity to leave Germany and begin a new life with her aunt and uncle in Florida. The German economy is failing. Her father's successful furniture business is no more. Her brothers are leaving. Should she? 

The Atzeroths, Fredericka's aunt and uncle, have managed to buy land, start a general store, and build a home in Florida. They invite Fredericka. There is a place for her, and she is a welcome addition with her alert mind, work ethic, personality, and good looks.

And so the story goes on with Miguel and Fredericka eventually meeting one another. He is older. She is twenty-five. Neither speaks the other's language. But there is something in the character and substance of each one that brings them together in a life which lays down roots and brings forth five children.

The retelling of their life together is filled with warmth and joy. The warmth of a woman and a man who have found a good mate in each other despite the limitations of language. (They do learn the rudiments of each other's language.) Mostly, though, there is a depth in each person which finds a depth in the other, amidst the day to day living of ordinary life. 

The welcoming of children reflects the depth of their love. Each looks forward to the birth of the new life they have created together. There are many lovely descriptions of family life, ordinary family life, but cherished family life in the scenes which play out before the reader's eyes. In a day and age, when there are fewer children and often not wanted, it is refreshing and reaffirming to read of the love of a mother and a father for their own, treasured children.

This story is historical fiction. The basic facts are true. Miguel and Fredericka and their five children did live on Terra Ceia Island.  But the flesh and blood details that are woven into this work of fiction and which bring it to life are taken from the families who formed the hearts and souls of Peggy and Ron as they grew up in Manatee County, Florida. There is love of the family as I have mentioned, but there is also love of the sea, love of the land, and its history. It is a land brimming with palm trees, palmettos, sunshine, geckos, flowers, and water. A land Miquel and Fredericka loved. It was the period when Florida passed from territory to state, and its men were called to bear arms. The love of one's homeland runs deep. This story of family, land, and country is set in the 1840, 50, and 60ties and paints a picture of life lived by those who settled Manatee County, Florida, and those who know and love its land today

Miguel's Bay is available on Amazon.

 Miguel's Bay

My 91 year old father, Alan, with Peggy on right 
and me on left.


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