The Lowells of Massachusetts: An American Family

“[A] stirring saga…” says the Wall Street Journal; “Vivid and intimate … Sankovitch has made a compelling contribution to Massachusetts and American History.”

Meet American’s Most Extraordinary Family: the Lowells…” says The Washington Post“Sankovitch has searched out these letters to write the powerful story of one of America’s most extraordinary families, a family that helped shape the course of American history in dramatic and decisive ways…By the final pages of this volume, one feels deeply attached to the individual Lowells, while also exhilarated at having experienced this grand sweep of American history.

The Connecticut Post calls it, “an astonishingly compact 328 pages (considering how much family history it covers) and reads like a fine novel. You might be reminded of one of those deep digs into history and storytelling that James Michener used to do in his novels “Hawaii” and “Chesapeake.”

“A fascinating collective biography … paying tribute to both worthy individuals and everyone else in this prominent, complicated family,” says Booklist.

Recommended by Library Journal:  “Sankovitch’s use of interpretative passages breathe color into descriptions of home life of various Lowells, adding an artistic dimension to the account. Her ability to switch the focus among the family members while keeping readers fully engaged in the narrative is a significant achievement.”

“A sturdy, busy multibiography of an eminent American family… Exhaustive work by a clear admirer and dogged researcher,” says Kirkus Reviews.  

Merchant prince turned farmer, preacher turned community organizer, lawyer turned revolutionary, society debutante turned social commentator, trader turned manufacturer, poet turned abolitionist; traveler of the Far East turned traveler of the Universe.

Ministers who fought for change, lawyers who fought for human rights, boys who fought to end slavery, and young women who fought for the chance to live their own lives: these are The Lowells of Massachusetts.    Read more…


Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing is the story of my quest to understand what it is about letters that make them so special. Years ago, when I was a young mother, I discovered a trove of hundred-year old letters in my backyard. The letters had been written by a Princeton freshman in to his mother in the early 1900s. cover-signed-198x300

Now I find my own son is heading off to college and I want him to write to me. But will he? Will he write as the Princeton student wrote his mother and as I wrote to my parents? Times have changed. Before I can persuade my child of the value of letters, I must first understand exactly what it is about letters that make them so special.

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In 2005, my oldest sister died of cancer at the age of 46. For three years I struggled with grief but it was only when I turned to books that I was able to find my way through sorrow. Reading became my therapy and it was intense. For one year, I read a book a day. Every day. I read 365 books written by 365 different authors, and I wrote reviews of each book I read here on my blog. My year of reading was a year of escape and discovery, of comfort and of resurgence. I learned how to live again, how to remember my sister in everything that I do, and how to connect with people, not only through conversations about books but through conversations about everything.TolstoyAndThePurpleChair

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading is my memoir of reading a book a day, and of all the lessons I learned, about holding tight to memories, letting go of guilt, creating intimacy with others,acting with kindness and forebearance, and savoring JOY whenever possible, through moments of beauty, pleasure, grace, laughter, and connection. My soul-baring and literary-minded memoir is a chronicle of loss, hope, and redemption. I turned to reading as therapy, and found the power of books to help me reclaim my life.

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