As a young girl in Michigan, Bella Colquhoun knows she’ll be a writer. It’s not easy for a woman in the 1920s to have a career of her own. She decides to never marry, but Ray promises to support her dreams. No one could have anticipated the railroad accident that would claim his life, teaching Bella things she never wanted to know about investigative journalism.
She moves to New York to attend Columbia University, but she never loses touch with the families back in Michigan, brought together by a nephew given Ray’s name. She eventually researches the family tree and decides to record the interrelated stories of extraordinary women who never quite became who they thought they would be. Across four generations, Bella traces the stories of women confronted by societal challenges as they struggle toward more than ordinary lives.
Bella’s family saga begins with European immigration to the Midwest and moves with the younger generations across 20th century America into the Pacific and even Africa. From women’s suffrage to civil rights, the Titanic to the Great Depression, these women face conflict with spouses and family members related to gender roles, childbearing, politics, and education. Yet, they find the strength to be someone, driven to rise above the challenges of a work-in-progress America.
Reviews of Bella’s Legacy by Luanna Meyer
“Luanna Meyer’s engaging novel Bella’s Legacy, exploring four generations of a family, focuses on women struggling to find their place in the world despite limitations of social convention, familial duties and economic circumstances…. Meyer’s well-research work artfully provides context with interesting historical details about the Titanic, Pearl Harbor, anti-Vietnam protests, and more…. a creative, character-driven story. It will challenge readers to reflect on women’s place in society, now and yesteryear.” –-BlueInk Review
“Teen pregnancy, marital strife, racial tensions, and ambitious husbands are among the problems the characters face…. Historical tidbits appear throughout the narrative, and the work strives to tell some of the lesser-known aspects of American history…. A sprawling novel that provides a satisfying exploration of women’s experiences across generations.” –Kirkus Review
“Young widowhood, lost babies, triumph and regret, conflict and reconciliation, dreams taken up and dreams deferred—these are some of life’s turning points that Bella’s Legacy explores…. The book’s historical context is meticulously researched, and the characters are vividly brought to life. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it!” –Christine Sleeter, author of White Bread and The Inheritance
“This is a very important book—it’s a family saga about several generations of women, some in poverty, all dependent on their historical context to get by in the world…. I cheered for the triumphs of these women facing educational challenges, financial worries, health problems, drinking husbands, and parents who could dictate what a daughter’s life would encompass. This is a beautifully written and insightful story of what it means to be a woman for the past 130 years of American history. I wholly recommend this book.” –Cherri Randall, author of The Memory of Orchids