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Bookshop to celebrate retired UVA professor Christopher Tilghman’s new novel

Crystal Graham
Christopher Tilghman
Submitted/Christopher Tilghman

New Dominion Bookshop will host a book reading and signing with author and retired UVA professor Christopher Tilghman on April 28 at 2 p.m.

Tilghman will be reading from his new novel, On the Tobacco Coast, which was released from FSG.

This in-person event is free and open to the public.

On the Tobacco Coast is the culmination of Tilghman’s great Chesapeake saga, a story spanning four centuries of an American family.

In the book, it is the Fourth of July 2019, and the Mason family is gathering for its annual celebration at the family’s historic Chesapeake farm, Mason’s Retreat. It isn’t everyone’s favorite tradition, but Harry Mason has once again goaded his wife, Kate, and their children into participating. Their oldest, Rosalie, is having trouble with her marriage; the youngest, Ethan, is in the throes of a fitful first relationship. In between, Eleanor despairs over her stalled novel, a fictionalized memoir of the wife of the first Mason immigrant who landed in 1659.

Kate, recovering from a second round of chemotherapy, is at the center of this ritual of remembrance. Tart and candid, she asks her husband, “What crimes against humanity did your family not commit on this farm?”

And so it happens that when the family, joined by a cast of neighbors and cousins from France, sits down for dinner, the question of how they should regard their past comes to the fore.

Told with warmth and humor, On the Tobacco Coast is Tilghman’s concluding meditation on the themes of his novels about Mason’s Retreat: place and history, the persistence of family stories, race and white privilege, the enigmas and customs of regions.

It is a reflection on the state of America today, its battles with its own history, and efforts to reckon with the wrongs of the past while looking forward to a more just future.

Tilghman is the author of two short story collections, In a Father’s Place and The Way People Run, and four previous novels, including Thomas and Beal in the Midi, The Right-Hand Shore, and Mason’s Retreat, which recount the connected stories of the Mason and Bayly families.

He lives with his wife, the novelist Caroline Preston, in Charlottesville and in Centreville, Md.

New Dominion Bookshop is located at 404 E. Main St. in Charlottesville.

For more information, visit ndbookshop.com.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked for nearly 25 years as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.