Chocolate Book Review no. 3: Climbing Family Trees by Trina Boice

OK, so the book is actually called "Climbing Family Trees: Whispers in the Leaves" and it's by both Trina Boice and Tracey Long, but that would be an absurdly long title for a blog post.

I've been reading fiction books for my chocolate reviews up until now, so I thought this would make a nice change - and it did. I loved it. I'm not involved in genealogy at the moment (too busy with my descendants to have time for my ancestors) but did have a brief foray into it before the kids came along, and I know how exciting and addictive it can be. I went to St. Catherine's House in London with my Dad and pored over the records of Births, Marriages and Deaths, and we also went to Heveningham in Suffolk where we found the graves of many ancestors in the parish churchyard. It's exciting and fun, and I'm looking forward to having the time to get stuck in again.

And when I do, you can bet that this is absolutely the book I want guiding me. There's a real risk with family history books that they can be dry and difficult, but this one is superb. The tone is light and friendly, and I loved the activity suggestions, the funny asides, and the true life stories contributed by others who'd had their own adventures in family history. It starts by assuming that you're completely new to the pursuit but does it without being patronising and very quickly reaches a level which even experienced genealogists can benefit from. It's a joy to read, and I raced through it and thoroughly enjoyed it even though I wasn't doing any family history research.

I try not to be too gushing about books, and generally feel obliged to pick out one thing which could be improved, but I struggled with this one. Perhaps the only thing I can think of is that near the beginning the writers explain what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is and how and why it is involved in genealogy. Yet it then goes on to have contributions from people who are LDS, and to use terminology and talk about doctrines which a non-LDS reader might struggle with. Is it written for church members or not? (Not a very good criticism I know. Obviously the writers are well aware that the majority of their readers will be LDS, but not all, hence the explanation.)

Anyway, LDS or not, experienced genealogist or new to tree-climbing, I heartily recommend this book.


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