The Old Cape Blood Ruby
by Barbara Eppich Struna

"I mean, everything circles back to Provincetown."

Walter Ellis is offered a work opportunity to mine for gold out in Alaska during the last great gold rush. It will mean leaving his wife, Sarah, and their kids behind in Provincetown for years on end, but it is a chance to strike it rich and recuperate any losses from the previous year's storm. Walter's journey out west proves to be treacherous but sets in motion the unexpected for his family as they fall into seemingly good fortune of their own.

Rich in detail and suspense, this historical novel is an enjoyable read about adventure and family roots. Walter's travels to Alaska in search of a better life echo the migration of his ancestor Maria Hallett, who moved to Provincetown to secure a future for her family. Hallett was brave, according to Walter, and he wanted to be brave for his family too. This family theme is also echoed in the present-day chapters of the novel, where the old Provincetown home is being cleaned and sorted through to be sold. As Nancy Caldwell goes through the old Ellis possessions, she wonders about the mystery of their lives.

Jumping back between the present day and the cusp of the twentieth century, the novel juxtaposes the Ellises' lives in the past with the modern family trying to make a living among the remnants of their house in Provincetown as interested parties clean it out in the hopes of finding treasure. The author artfully weaves these timelines together, recounting where and how the Ellis family manages to survive the various hardships they face.

A 2018 Eric Hoffer Book Award Category Finalist

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