Samantha Gordon had from childhood known that she was adopted. Separated from her twin brother at birth, she begins to question who she is and where she came from. Throughout this novel, Samantha is seeking answers to her heritage and background. Although the answers she seeks are revealed almost from the very beginning ,the reader is caught up and taken along with Samantha on her journey to discovery.
More of a family saga than historical fiction, “Titans” is a novel about ranchers and oil in Texas, set in the early 1900’s.
Readers will be introduced to several (fictional) founding families in Texas; the Holloway, Gordon, Singleton and Waverling family all have their stories, some of which are detailed and others left to the reader’s imagination.
“The Gordons were landed gentry. In 1820, the patriarch of Las Tres Lomas de la Trinidad had come to what was then a province of Mexico and established a ranch he stocked with a breed of cattle native to the region known as Longhorns. In 1867, Neal, along with his father and two younger brothers, owned the beginnings of what would become one of the largest ranches in Central Texas, but prosperity was nearly fifteen years away. Comanche raids and Reconstruction were wreaking financial havoc…”
All the way through I was wondering if Samantha will ever find her true parents and discover that she has a twin brother.
“Life expectancy for a woman in 1900 was forty-eight, and she was almost halfway through her allotment of years upon the earth. Her ship was firmly underway on an unalterable course, and there was no setting it in another direction.”
Some of the book was a little repetitive and sometimes it seemed the sentence structure a little awkward (maybe could have used better editing?) However it did engage me and raised questions about the dilemma ranchers faced; whether to risk drilling for oil in the days when much of the technology was yet undiscovered, or whether to continue running the ranch as before, dependent upon the weather and beef prices in order to make the mortgage payments.
The character I liked most of course was Samantha. Her loyalty is commendable although her choice to take over the ranch from her stepfather, rather than pursue her interest in paleontology, could have been made more of in this story.
“No, she had no regrets. Las Tres Lomas de la Trinidad was the place where she was meant to be, no matter that her ‘fit’ for it did not come from inherited blood. The wide-open range, where the wind blew fresh and unobstructed and the only smells and sounds were natural to the country, was for her a vast laboratory that offered plentiful opportunities for scientific exploration and analysis. Land and livestock management required paleontological skills. Samantha had rigged up an outdoor workshop with basic tools for testing water, soil, grass…she felt at home on a horse, with cattle and cowmen, and when her father discovered she had a head for making judicious financial decisions, she became indispensable to the business operations of the ranch.”
There are real-life situations and character struggles; Sam’s stepfather Neal vacillates between his love for his stepdaughter and feelings of possessiveness. He cannot hide his disgust at her pursuit of her biological family. Samantha’s true mother is shallow and longs for position in society. Todd Baker is weak and disloyal and Billie June, Sloan’s sister, chooses to indulge in a relationship that threatens her family’s security. I did wish that Nathan, Samantha’s brother, had been more developed as a character.
I had read Meacham’s “Somerset” and really enjoyed it. When I looked up the author I was surprised to find that although she had written a couple of light romances previously, she did not begin serious fiction writing until after retirement, at the age of 65! Her novel “Roses” became a NY Times bestseller within days, although it had taken five years to write.
I found “Titans” started out with a strong beginning but for some reason, the second half petered out for me. Samantha’s birth story was a dilemma that was perhaps drawn out for too long. “Titans” is ‘escapist fiction’, and although it does have its weaknesses (an unfortunate and rather unlikely tragedy occurs late in the book), it is a book to immerse yourself in if you enjoy reading a family saga-type book.
I had always meant to read “Tumbleweed” and “Roses” after finishing “Somerset”. I found this latest book written by Leila Meacham on the ‘new reads’ shelf at the library and it gave me the impetus to look this author up once again.