John Dennis Fitzgerald didn’t consider himself an author until he published his first book Papa Married a Mormon. For years before its publication he had written hundreds of stories for magazines and penny dreadfuls. No matter how hard he tried, a book of his own eluded him.
In 1955, all that changed. Prentice Hall Publishing unleashed John’s western family saga. A year later it would be listed as a publishing house best seller.
The Papa book, as I like to call it, is the tender love story of an Irish Catholic man and a young Danish Mormon woman. Fitzgerald wrote, “Tom saw only a girl standing on a stepladder behind the counter placing goods on a shelf. Her corn colored hair hung in two thick waist-length braids. Her hazel eyes showed curiosity as she saw the stranger, and her small mouth crinkled into a smile producing two dimples in her cheeks….”May I help you, sir?” she asked….Tom tried to speak, but his tongue clove to the roof of his mouth.”
Though their cultures were miles apart their love for each other guided their lives. This love reached beyond them and became a force for healing in the lives of family, friends, and neighbors.
Papa Married a Mormon is a beautiful book. The prose is perfect, the description compelling, and the plot line enriching. If you want to experience the old west family style, this book is the perfect read.
There are no records which tell if Fitzgerald planned on writing more books about his family’s past. Authors weren’t pushed to create book series back in 1955. The few interviews he gave imply that he was only planning on one. However, readers wanted more. Fitzgerald obliged.
Mamma’s Boarding House begins where Papa Married a Mormon ended. The family has grown up. They are all busy now choosing careers, pursuing higher education, and getting married. New family members grace the pages of the book. While old familiar ones shepherd the story forward.
Fitzgerald’s love for Utah’s history is not lost in this book. Readers are privileged to enjoy the annual Pioneer Day celebration. They also watch as the final outlaws from the territory meet their fate. Near the end of the story Uncle Will tells of the historic silver find that led to the establishment of Silver Reef, one of Utah’s most famous mining towns. The story closes tenderly allowing the reader to savor the memories of the Old West.
Book 3 – Series Complete
Uncle Will and the Fitzgerald Curse, was the third book in the series. Set around Pre-Civil War America, this unique story is the history of William Dennis Fitzgerald of Pennsylvania. Will is a bright but impatient youth whose enthusiasm drives him to seek a life out West. Far from his strident Catholic home.
Young, angry, and impetuous, Will sets off across America towards his dreams. Along the way he becomes the sophisticated saloon owner of the White Horse Saloon in Silverlode, Utah. Inwardly missing some of the true joys in life, Will finds through his brother, Tom and his family, a healing he had been searching for since his childhood.
Among the trilogy this book is a departure from the sweet and tender stories of the other two books. Yet, for Uncle Will fans this book is a treat.