Florida's favorite novel, "A Land Remembered- is a modern literary masterpiece. Published in 1984 by Pineapple Press, Patrick D. Smith's historical fiction novel gives a fictional, albeit accurate account of the history of Florida from its pioneer days in 1868, shortly after the American Civil war to 1968, arguably one of the most tumultuous years in the history of American culture.
The story is that of a family (The MacIvey family) through three generations, a family emigrated from Georgia into the wild and untamed lands of Florida. They start out eeking out a living from the earth, but over time learn to round up wild cattle and drive them to market. Over time, the family fortune turns to orange groves (gold growing on trees), a common, if not cliché theme among Florida's oldest families. .
What makes the novel work is not so much its straight forward plot. It is the realism involved in what the family faced through the years, the common struggles of those who lived through the pioneering days of Florida's rich history. Floridians especially can easily relate to stories of malaria and mosquito swarms. They can relate to hurricanes, heat and crop devastating frosts, not to mention wildlife problems, from hogs, alligators, cougars, bears and wolves. .
This is a novel for both Floridians and history buffs and it gets at the essence of the human condition. No one is perfect. Everyone is flawed. Those we think are perfect are still susceptible to the forces of nature and of God. While many of the struggles faced by MacIveys are now the stuff of history, the choices they make, the feelings they endure, the challenges they overcome, and the means by which they overcome them ring as true today as they did in 1984, and 1968, and in 1868, when the story first begins. There is a fluidity of humanity that leaves the reader identifying with the characters, leaves the reader feeling simultaneously in that world and this.