A Family Place by Leila Philip
A Hudson Family Farm, Three Centuries, Five Wars, One Family

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Synopsis

A Family Place is an evocative, first-person account of Leila Philip's search to uncover and then to come to terms with her family's rich and complicated past. This is a past populated by manor lords and tenant farmers, romantic-era gentlemen farmers and Civil War heroes, wealthy ne'er-do- wells, renegade aunts, and secret children, all of them inextricably linked to a white-columned mansion named Talavera, located two hours from New York City in the Hudson Valley.

Today, Talavera is managed as a commercial fruit farm called Philip Orchards. Since inheriting the estate after their father's death in 1992, Leila Philip and her four siblings have struggled to find the means to keep the house intact and the land from being consumed by development. This uphill battle has forced Philip to ask: What compels a family to risk everything—financial well-being, its place in the modern world, even each other —to hold on to a piece of land?

In her quest for answers, Philip began researching her family's unbreakable bond with this remarkable place. From 1730, the first year of the family tenure on the land, to the present, A Family Place chronicles a fascinating history that is full of surprises. Like Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life and Kathleen Norris's Dakota, A Family Place is both deeply personal and broadly resonant as her search becomes entangled in the tensions between memory and recorded fact.
 

About Leila Philip

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Leila Philip is the author of "The Road Through Miyama," a memoir of her apprenticeship to a master potter in Japan, for which she won the 1990 PEN/Martha Albrand Special Citation for Nonfiction. She teaches creative writing at Colgate University.
 
Published October 1, 2001 by Viking Adult. 288 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for A Family Place

Kirkus Reviews

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An exquisite rendering of a Hudson Valley family farm, as detailed and colored as a Persian miniature, from Philip (English/Colgate Univ.;

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The New York Times

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The history of an apple farm is not the sexiest of subjects, but in ''A Family Place,'' Leila Philip manages to seduce the reader into wanting to know what's happened for centuries behind the doors of her family's house, Talavera.

Nov 25 2001 | Read Full Review of A Family Place: A Hudson Fami...

Publishers Weekly

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In a style that's more prosaic than poetic, she tells of her own decision to take a leave (as professor of English at Colgate) to help her mother run the farm, while exploring her fascinating family past of 18th-century manor lords and tenant farmers, Civil War and World War II heroes, dissipated...

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