In two beautifully counterpoised narratives, two women—mother and daughter—try to make sense of their own lives by revisiting what they know about each other. The History of Great Things tells the entwined stories of Lois, a daughter of the Depression Midwest who came to New York to transform herself into an opera star, and her daughter, Elizabeth, an aspiring writer who came of age in the 1970s and ’80s in the forbidding shadow of her often-absent, always larger-than-life mother. In a tour de force of storytelling and human empathy, Elizabeth chronicles the events of her mother’s life, and in turn Lois recounts her daughter’s story—pulling back the curtain on lifelong secrets, challenging and interrupting eachother, defending their own behavior, brandishing or swallowing their pride, and, ultimately, coming to understand each other in a way that feels both extraordinary and universal.
The History of Great Things is a novel about a mother and daughter who are intimately connected and not connected enough; it will make readers laugh and cry and wonder how we become the adults we always knew we should—even if we’re not always adults our parents understand.
Elizabeth Crane is the author of the novel We Only Know So Much, and three collections of short stories: When the Messenger is Hot, All this Heavenly Glory, and You Must Be This Happy to Enter. Her stories have been featured on NPR’s Selected Shorts. She is a recipient of the Chicago Public Library 21st Century Award, and her work has been adapted for the stage by Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater Company. A feature film adaptation of We Only Know So Much will be released in 2016.