• Geneaology by Mae Wood
Mae Wood
Historical Fiction
October 25, 2018

Inspired by real, hundred-year-old love letters.

My great-grandmother's name is bold across the cream envelope, now golden at the seams with age. I can't remember the last time I’ve seen graceful, purposeful handwriting with a fountain pen and not the hasty scrawl of ballpoint.

Alice Hirshhorn, Astoria Hotel, Seattle Washington.

“Letters to Great-grandma Alice,” I say with wonder, tracing my fingers over the faded postmark and foreign stamps.

December 1915. Philippine Islands.

I turn the thick envelope in my palm, slide out the tightly folded pages, and unfold the thin paper, taking care not to tear the letters that were important enough to keep for a century.

My dearest Alice

“Great-grandpa was in the Philippines?” I ask.

“Oh no. Not your great-grandfather,” answers Grammie, her eyes twinkling with her mother’s secrets. “Elliott.”


At thirty-three and with her future unclear, Ali Waller finds her way home again. A box of long-forgotten love letters written to her great-grandmother holds the unlikely key to Ali finding her new path.

As she tracks down the letter writer and his descendants, Ali learns the magic of love, hope, and resilience.

Told by three characters, and across century and an ocean, Genealogy is an enchanting story about love and loss, taking chances, and embracing the surprises that life brings.


Genealogy contains a discussion guide, making it a perfect selection for book clubs. A printable version of the discussion guide is available at www.maewood.com

“Marry me. Because when the ground gives way under my feet again, I don’t want to have been the man who sent you pink roses, too afraid to buy the red ones that I wanted to give you.”

This story encompasses so many genres, it’s hard to categorize it. It’s difficult to explain what you’ll feel and the experiences you’ll get when you read it. History blends with romance. It is fiction, based largely in reality. Every reader’s reaction will be varied and personal. And the words, oh the words, are all carefully chosen, exquisite and full of depth.

I admit, for me it was a slow start. The details of the past sometimes felt heavy. The story, though intriguing, moved slowly. And because of the way the plot was unraveled, through letters and a third person narrative, the action was minimal. I think a lot of the fault here lies with me, though. Historical fiction, especially set in the World War I era, is very outside my wheelhouse. So I pushed through. Because I adore this author and all her previous books and I KNOW how talented she is, even if I just hadn’t quite found my groove yet. 

I am beyond thrilled that I did. The second half of the book, for me, was phenomenal. Intriguing, emotional, romantic and perfectly paced. Mentioning specific names, details, or plot points would ruin the delicately woven story, as how things played out was a surprise I wouldn’t have imagined. And so I will avoid referring to anything that could possibly spoil the magic for potential readers. But I will say that I couldn’t put it down from fifty percent on. And when I reached the conclusion, I only wished there would have been more.